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I learnt to sew at an early age, taught by my Grandmother. After migrating to England from Jamaica in the early 60's, with 8 children to support, she began to sew - from clothes to interiors, you name it she made it. It seems to run in the family as many members of my family are skilled seamstresses or keen embroiderers, so its inevitable that it has become something I have grown to love.
Embroidery is used primarily for decorative purposes in my work, I use a combination of machine and hand embroidery, each creating different outcomes. I love the stark contrasts of embroidery, between the rigidness and uniformity of 'standardised' machine embroidery, the looseness and uncontrolled qualities of free-hand machine embroidery and the mark making, illustrative qualities of hand embroidery.
About my Work
My work revisits everyday elements from the built environment, things we all observe daily but often overlook. It aims to celebrate the mundane qualities of those things which are commonly seen as dull and insignificant, thereby heightening a sense of awareness and renewed appreciation.
The work uses a combination of concrete and textile knit, stitch and print methods to translate the contrast between the natural and industrial elements of our built environment. From the weathered textures to the man-made 'graphic' quality of urban objects, the work explores new and worn, bright and dull, man-made and natural - all of which feature in the built environment.
This dynamic combination of materials explores the reversal of the traditional viewpoints of inside/outside and highlights concrete’s new ‘fashionable’ status, which has seen its development from utility to luxury.
Putting a twist on the 'traditional', my work aims to push the boundaries of contemporary textiles by blurring design disciplines and breaking preconceptions.
'Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things' - Theodore Levitt
If you've never used it before, try using Aquafilm - you can buy it from most haberdashery and craft stores. Aquafilm is a water soluble film that can be embroidered onto, by hand or machine, and after wetting it dissolves leaving you with nothing but the thread, creating lace-like pieces that can be used as part of a garment or added to a textile wall piece.
Or how about creating textile sculptural pieces - try placing a piece of wire between two pieces of Aquafilm before sewing, wash off and sculpt away. The possibilities with Aquafilm are endless - and it's great fun!
Note: When stitching, make sure that the stitches overlap otherwise when you come to running your finished piece under water you'll find your design will fall apart as it has no structure.
Bethany has kindly agreed to answer questions from Junior Embroiderers and Textile Students.