So 2021? Let me show you something I’ve just completed. Sometimes I’m led by the textiles I have found, can’t help thinking that there was also a symbolic force pushing me to use this rising Phoenix in my latest work. Not original but it’s not often I find a exquisite vintage embroidery of one! Regeneration and renewal is also reusing antique textiles and when I find something good, I like to let it shine again.
The Phoenix and other parts of couched metallic embroidery were from a seriously tattered Chinese wall hanging that had disintegrated apart from the embroidery. No idea unfortunately, what it’s original meaning was for or it’s true age. The metallic thread was tarnished so had some age to it.
I had an idea to make a panelled artwork for sometime. I love Chinese and Japanese screens that are beautiful works of art with either ink paintings or paint on gold leaf. I have used imitation gold leaf (not the real gold!) in other work so it felt fitting with the subject that I should use it.
The photos show some of the work in progress, even initial ideas change through the process as trying to find balance in the composition causes adaption. I started with a antique linen sheet which I dyed with coffee, tea, rust and even walnuts to achieve a gently aged look as a backdrop. It is then about working out the elements together, which ones work, which ones don’t. I decided to add the gold leaf on to the two outer panels to “ground” the embroidered appliqués so they weren’t floating around. The appliqués are a combination of early 19th century chenille foliage and some of the metallic embroidery from the original Chinese wall hanging. All the appliqués were hand stitched onto the background, a labour intensive task as the metallic embroidery was fragile in places.
The final piece measures 28” height and 34½ wide as three panels. The central panel is 18” wide and the outer panels are 8¼” wide.