If 2010 is chugging along at breakneck speed, it must be time for . . . . T.G.I.F.F.T!

I can't believe we've passed so many Fridays in the new year without a self-indulgent exploration of some Small Works Favorites.  

Hopefully, at this point you're thinking:
Thank Goodness it's (finally) Friday Favorites Time!

(Otherwise, we should find a new name for this particular series.  I could add an "S" to the mix, as in "Thank Goodness it's Susan's Friday Favorites Time, but somehow I feel there is something lost. And I hope that my favorites become some of your favorites, as well.)

Anyway, today I wanted to show you an artist I have long admired, although I know very little about her.  In fact, despite exhaustive internet searching, I've been unable to find any images of her work online.  She appears in two books in my needlework library.  I also came across one reference to an exhibit of her work in 2000, but there were no pictures posted.

So we will call her "Vanessa Blackmore, 
International Embroiderer of Mystery." 
(She's British, which I think qualifies her for the title.)

When I first came across her pieces, I was immediately drawn to them. I think there may be something in the fact that she makes small hand-stitched and embroidered pictures with words on them using re-purposed fabrics.

Her Passage Through the Trees, 17.5" x 19", Vanessa Blackmore

I love her combination of a loose working style in the main body of the piece (sort of a Janet Bolton vibe, but with more movement) with dense, intricately embroidered centers.

Then to top it off, she adds a delicate machine embroidered edging. So much eye candy in one small space!

It's a visually delicious box of variety chocolates, 
and I devour them all.

Of this piece, Ms. Blackmore writes:  "Thinking about an 'Alice in Wonderland' theme led to the idea of creating an image that would represent Alice's transition between the ordinary and dream worlds."

Regarding her choice to use recycled materials in her work, she explains:  "I use mostly scraps from clothes.  This is a deliberate act as I feel the work takes on an essence of the person who once wore the fabric, the fabric almost takes on a life of its own, attached to it are memories and feelings".

Vanessa Blackmore

The book in which I found this picture gives no titles, but this description:  "This picture incorporates embroidery, applique and crazy patchwork.  The colours are taken from nature and the natural theme is carried through to the 'frame' of leaves."

The other piece in the same book appears to perhaps be a work in progress, or it is possible she decided to leave the edges raw.

Vanessa Blackmore

It is described thus:  "This appliqued and embroidered panel is made up of tiny fabric pieces appliqued onto a background fabric, as in crazy patchwork.  Fabrics were chosen for their organic qualities."

I've written here before about how I long to be able to work with such a loose and fluid style; I'm beginning to suspect that it is never to be.  These bad photos of pieces from my very first dabblings in fabric pictures are probably the closest I've come.

In the Garden, 1995, 6" x 6", Susan M. Hinckley

Home Sweet Home, 1995, 6" x 6", Susan M. Hinckley

And it seems that my natural control-freakish nature has only
continued to solidify in the ensuing 15 years.

Oh well. I dream of a studio in which I would have a Janet Bolton and a Vanessa Blackmore hanging side by side to encourage me daily to explore my easier self.

Flowers from my Garden, Janet Bolton

I can dream, can't I? 


Lisa Cannon said...

You can most certainly dream. I had never seen the In the Garden piece and I love it. I also love the Home Sweet Home piece. Even though your things are not as freeform as those you admire, they are a representation of you at your best!

Amelia and Justin said...

I've long admired people that can make beauty out of chaos. I don't think it is something I can ever hope to achieve, however, because my OCD tendencies start screaming at me :)

luanne said...

One of the things I love about your work is that you use those tiny, precise, beautiful stitches to create your humorous images.

But as a fellow control freak, I empathize with your longing to be able to loosen up artistically and still make something beautiful. If you figure out how to do it, please share the secret!

susan m hinckley said...

Maybe we should get a support group of control freaks together and make something completely out of control. Maybe something we pass around and everyone has to add to it without putting it in a strait jacket . . . just thinking out loud, but perhaps Small Works needs to start serving a useful purpose in this world. Up-tight art rehab would be a great place to start, wouldn't it?

Darlene said...

Uptight art rehab? What a great idea! :) I've taken up liberated and improvisational quilting in an effort to break away from my control freak tendencies. It's hard, but I do feel like I'm making progress...

But keep in mind that you do have your own distinctive, recognizable style, just as Vanessa does. I think the obsessive tendencies we share come from a focus on perfection that's taken to an extreme. Learning to let go of the idea of perfection does free a person up to play around a lot more. And the more you play around, the better you get.

Strange, when you give up on perfection, you get closer to achieving it!

abi said...

Those edges on those pieces are WONDERFUL! And I think there is quite a bit of controlled chaos in the pieces. Your stuff is very much out of the box - which makes it great!

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