The textiles of Somporn Intaraprayong take us on a walk through the rice fields. Heavy stitches through hemp create an undulating surface, reminiscent of a rhythmic landscape, shaped by paths and contours of thread. Organic rows of stitches create maps, like enlarged cellular drawings or currents in an indigo ocean, with hidden clues to the place and people that created them. Embroidered spider webs, picnicing ants or numbers from a child’s maths book all give a sense of rural life in Thailand and tell the stories of the local seamstresses that work under Somporn’s guidance.
As we look closer the textural terrain reveals slubs of raw cotton, splitting hemp fibres and the uneven stitches of a human hand. Somporn’s work is locally produced. It begins with found or cultivated fibres such as cotton, hemp or linen then dyed using local indigo plants, abundant in the hills of Northern Thailand. Somporn describes how the work begins; ‘Every tiny piece of cloth has a long history. In the case of cotton, for example, the plant had to be foraged or cultivated, picked, spun, and then dyed and woven, or woven and dyed – all this before the cloth is turned into something else. To throw out even a scrap of material, therefore, is painful, so we keep everything.’ This understanding of how the cloth is made has lead to a deep appreciation for the irregularities of natural fibres, which are celebrated through her textiles.
Next, the raw cloth is stitched by many hands. Local women are taught how to become seamstresses to create densely stitched pieces that are sold at the best international craft markets. Somporn dedicates a lot of her time to sharing her sewing skills with anyone who wants to learn, creating work in areas where employment is scarce. There is a beauty that radiates through Somporn’s entire creative practice from the raw materials to the final stitch. She describes empathy as the most valuable tool in her process, which has encouraged her to reach out to those who may be struggling with poverty or lack of education...
From Somporn's undulating surfaces, reminiscent of the landscapes of northern Thailand and recreated through hand embroidery, to antique Dutch darning samplers and Mexican tenango embroidery, wake up to the beauty of textiles from around the world every day of the year with the Selvedge 2022 Calendar.
Featuring 12 beautiful textiles featured in Selvedge Magazine, this is the perfect gift for the textile lover in your life (even if that is you!).