I approached Jessa Fairbrother via email in order to receive feedback/advice about how best to keep the reverse of my embroidered photography tidy.
Although she didn’t give direct guidance, she did say that I was clearly doing things ‘right’ and that we all sew differently, and my development would come with time and exparience.
Part of me feels child-like by asking for direction, as though I can’t stand on my own two feet. However, the reality is that I wish to be an exhibiting photographer, and I will benefit from seeking and accepting the critique of others.
Fig. 1. Minor Constellation 1; 2018
Jessa Fairbrother sews on top of photographs to use “the body-as-site to explore communal meanings and is concerned with making explicit the moment when performed gesture and gaze of the viewer collide.” (Fairbrother; 2019). She uses needlework as exploration and reclamation of her body.
Figure 1 Fairbrother, J; 2018; Minor Constellation I [Silver Gelatin Print and hand sewn tbread]; AT: https://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/print-sales/explore-artworks/minor-constellation-i-2018
Fairbrother, J; 2019; About/Contact; Online: AT: http://www.jessafairbrother.com/about.html
My approach to assignment 5 was that I wanted to learn a new skill to carry forward to the degree in Photography. I was prepared to fail, which can be an important part of learning. However, things are going better than imagined. Here are two snap shots of the embroidery. It’s such a wonderful and enjoyable process.
The top photo is part of a peacock, embroidered on to a self portrait (I’m not posting the completed photo until I post the completed assignment). The second photo is a work in progress of a butterfly.
Progress, I feel like I am getting somewhere. Making the collages has been fun, and once I have finished these I will need to create voice recordings for each, and buy the props that will complete the installations. It’s very exciting that I can now see how this will work. The only perceived difficulty is that the final pieces will not show off their full effect as a photo on my blog.
Step 1, making holes
Step 2, stitching
Step 3, taping the reverse side
Step 4, cutting out objects and positioning
Step 5, making more holes and more stitching
Step 6, a finished collage
Step 7, but matching props and photograph them as a still life in front of the collage
Step 8, make voice recording
Step 9, add voice recordings to each collage
Yesterday I got 12 photos off to the picture framers for mounting. He understood where I needed the cut outs and why, and took an interest in my art. After speaking with him I felt really secure in the knowledge that he got what I needed.
I have begun the embroidery today. I’m starting with those I will be using for six collages, in which excerpts from Laura Letinsky’s I’ll Form And Void Full will be embroidered onto my face. I’m excited. I also know how I’m going to make the animal masks for my primary version.
Yesterday I had some free time to have a look around the Wellcome Collection. Most interesting was the one mask/collage which included some sewing over the top of photography. Produced by Heidi Kerrison, her collage related to fears in relation to cloning and genetic modification.
Her work demonstrates that I could use both collage and embroidery to create the effects that I am looking for. I quite like the stitching around the edge of the face, it’s complex and detailed, but I don’t like the sewing around the eyes.
There were other masks which I found interesting, especially the scolds brindle. I could embroider a mask in this style, and add the tongue piece. It would work well to highlight the element of self punishment and restraint that I experienced as a result of my anorexia.
OCA student Kate Aston, very kindly sent me two of her photos, from a previous assignment, in which she embroidered over photography. Both of which are of a climbing wall.
- Long stitches
- Creates a shape which I can anthropomorpise
- Creates an anchor and relay
- Alters perspective
- Reduces appearance of size
- Small stitches
- Single colour
- Provide definition and detail
Although I’m limiting my focus to the stitching, as this is research for my assignment, I do wish to pass comment upon this second photo.
The depth of field is incredible, and this draws me right into the photo. The DoF is so narrow that I imagine that an extension tube was used on a 200mm- 300mm lens to create a macro lens. I’m also going to assume that the shot is made on the ground, shooting high up into a join between wall and ceiling, and that the plans have been shifted by rotating and cropping during the development process. I’m probably wrong. But this photo is so intriguing. It’s also very easing aesthetically.
Having seen this work I have decided to use the embroidery from Kate’s first photo to provide the relay between my face and the subject in Laura Letinsky’s photo. I hadn’t considered creating an installation prior to viewing Kate’s assignment. This is the advantage of connecting with fellow artists and photographers.
To see Kate Aston’s Context and Narrative studies click here, to view her on Instagram it’s kate513940
The stitching will be done in a manner that uses shape and colour to emphasise the emotional expression.
Maurizio Anzeri (1969)
Fig. 1. Bernard (left) and Georgio (right)
Some of the most complex embroidery on photography that I’ve seen, I can’t help but admire the attention to detail and complexity.
- Colour can be used to highlight character, as can shape
- Bernard has some smooth, peaceful joy to counter elements of mania, business and disjointed thought
- Georgio is serious, effeminate, passionate and positive
Fig. 2. Louise B
- Louise is complex
- Likes order
- Sees everything
- An active intelligent mind
- Outwardly feminine but internally rigid
Fig. 3. Nadia
I find this to be a deeply emotional and sad photo. There is pain etched upon her face through the burgundy’s that permeate the gentleness and light of the pinks and whites. Those downward looking eyes with the black embroidery which follows her gaze, suggests a deep sense of sadness and loss.
Fig. 4. Peter
Perhaps a person with no sense of identity who lives in a complex state of psychotic delusion. He has a brain which is set to combust and explode, with an overload of neural connections. But also an introvert and unable to express his ideas.
Embroidering on top of a portrait can add a depth of characterisation. This can be done by using colour and shape, and with the right level of technical expertise, an artist can bring out different aspects of an individuals personality.
Anzeri’s art is phenomenal and he is a technical expert. I’m going to have to rewatch the following you tube tutorial to gain some tips.
Figure 1 Anzeri, M; Bernard and Georgio [thread on photograph]; AT: https://www.lomography.com/magazine/91702-maurizio-anzeris-embroidered-photography (accessed on 30/12/2018)
Figure 2 Anzeri, M; Louise B [thread on photograph]; AT: https://www.lomography.com/magazine/91702-maurizio-anzeris-embroidered-photography (accessed on 30/12/2018)
Figure 3 Anzeri, M; Nadia [thread on photograph]; AT: https://www.lomography.com/magazine/91702-maurizio-anzeris-embroidered-photography (accessed on 30/12/2018)
Figure 4 Anzeri, M; Peter [thread on photograph]; AT: https://www.lomography.com/magazine/91702-maurizio-anzeris-embroidered-photography (accessed on 30/12/2018)
OK, so this is not the greatest idea of a sampler, but it’s been good practice to try out different stitch samples for my fifth assignment. The majority of the artists who stitch over photography tend to use a long stitch, rather than different styles of stitching. And hey, their work is fantastic, so maybe the idea is to keep it simple. However, I like chain stitch and diagonal tent stitch – and I can see how they can be used, and perhaps cross stitch would be good over eyes.
- Blue – herringbone stitch
- Yellow – running stitch
- Orange – Cross stitch
- Pink – Back stitch
- Red – Tent stitch
- Green – Diagonal tent stitch
- Brown – Chain stitch