Welcome to the blog of Spike Dennis; an artist and sometime curator. Trained in London Spike has exhibited widely, from London to Los Angeles, and has delivered projects from Cardiff to Stockholm, for organisations including the Illustration Research network and Cardiff Design Festival amongst Others.
Kathy Halper is a textile artist based in the United States. She finds source material for embroidered artworks through the internet, more specifically though social media networks like Facebook.
The content for Kathy’s embroidered drawings is sourced from status updates and photographs post online by teenagers. By embroidering these updates she gives these statuses and photographs a permanence that contrasts with the fleeting nature of online content which is constantly being updated, surpassed, rewritten.
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Having been creating embroidered artworks created from content sourced online for the last year or so I was instantly drawn to Kathy’s work (not to mention the reference to a unicorn in the image pictured above).
I like the simplicity of the embroidered drawings which are reduced to line drawings in many instances. In contrast I have been using cross stitch to create my own internet inspired artworks which creates an aesthetic more akin to a low resolution photograph than a drawing.
Similarly though, recreating this online material using a labour intensive physical process such as embroidery questions our experience of time and suggests that we might pause for thought and reflect on our actions before sharing our private thoughts and desires with the great big wide world.
I attended a tapestry weaving workshop at the Fleming Collection in London earlier this month. It was a one day introductory workshop led by Master Weaver Caron Penney of Weftfaced.
The workshop coincided with the Fleming Collection’s exhibition, “From Fleece to Fibre“, which includes the Large Tree Group Tapestry created at Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh. It made for the perfect setting for the workshop; wondrous and inspiring.
Having exhibited alongside artists such as Erin Riley on a number of occasions of the last year or two, and having been looking to the unicorn tapestries as a part of my research, I’ve been keen to try tapestry for myself.
This was only a taster workshop so the warp was already created for us. This gave us an opportunity to get stuck straight in with the yarns to create our weft. Though technical it’s a ‘relatively’ straight forward process although perfecting it will clearly take time; you can see from the image above that my tapestry gets a little narrower towards the top due to the pressure I was exerting when pulling the yarn through the warp. There are also a number of considerations to bear in mind when building up different colours to ensure that the stitches support one another.
Images can be created by counting the numbers of stitches used in a similar way to the way in which cross stitched images can be constructed. This makes me think that there could be a genuine use for tapestry within my practice, particularly with regard to the internet inspired body of work I have been working on for the last twelve months or so.
If you’re interested in tapestry then the Weavers’ Bazaar website is a great source of both materials, tools and tutorials. There is also another introductory workshop at the Fleming Collection at the end of January 2015; check out their website for more information.
I’ve been working with illustrator and puppeteer Layla Holzer this month to create another festive short film for the Pack of Wolves. ‘Mother Christmas’ is an original fairy tale written by Layla which is presented here as a shadow puppet film using handmade paper cut puppets.
Jillian Tamaki is an illustrator and cartoonist based in Brooklyn, New York. I recently came across this hand embroidered quilt that she created a few years ago. Apparently it was the first embroidery project that she created having taken up the craft – not a bad effort at all!
I like the spread of creatures crawling all over this quilt. The fluidity of the design is great as well as the way that illustrative imagery is incorporated into a media not so commonly associated with illustration. It’s definitely one of the most interesting contemporary quilts I’ve come across
I’m working on a hand embroidered quilt of my own at the moment, albeit something very different to this monster quilt, so it was nice to stumble across this piece. Many of the quilts that I’ve come across employ embroidery as a secondary technique to the patchwork and quilting that’s at the fore. It nice to see the embroidery in this work is given centre stage.
This is a little animated GIF made from some glitched images of my Wild Man. I’ve been working with a corrupt image for a new cross stitch project that I’m currently working on as a way of obscurring some of the content in the image. I’m also interested in the ways that I might incorporate corrupt or ‘glitch’ effects into future works.
This is another of the cross stitched panels that I have been working on recently. When complete there will be twelve of these panels which will be stitched together to form the final work of art. They are currently taking around 30 to 35 hours for me to stitch so it’s slow going but I’m hoping to have the final panels completed ready for assembly early in the new year.
I’m starting work on the final four panels for my latest piece of work and with that I’ve bought a new batch of embroidery thread to get me started. Fittingly for this time of year it’s quite a wintery palette I’m working with.
It’ll no doubt be well into the new year before I have finished these last panels so keep your eyes peeled then for some teasers before the whole work is assembled from the 12 embroidered panels.