Image: Cover of Cannot Be, Whatsoever, Novo Amor, artwork by Tilleke Schwarz (detail).
For the cover of his new album, the Welsh singer and songwriter Novo Amor (Ali Lacey) has chosen to use an embroidery by textile artist Tilleke Schwarz. The album Cannot Be, Whatsoever, also includes songs named after words and phrases featured in Schwarz’s piece, Birdcage (2001). Lacey explains that, while he has never tried stitching, the handmade process reminds him of making music. “It hadn't occurred to me to use an embroidered piece of art until I found Tilleke's work, but Birdcage drew me in. The process of making music for me is messy and full of indecision. Birdcage displays characters, shapes and patterns which feel like they are struggling to settle, whilst the big hand is trying to hold everything together. For me, this echoes the feeling of being inspired, capturing an idea, pulling it close and trying to make something from it.”
Image: Cover of Cannot Be, Whatsoever, Novo Amor, artwork by Tilleke Schwarz
Somewhat surprised by the request from Novo Amor to use her artwork, Schwartz says, “At first I really had to get used to the idea of having my work commercially used. However I was impressed by the careful way Ali tried to persuade me to participate. So now my opinion has completely changed. I am very happy with the results of the project.” Schwarz was born in 1946 in the Netherlands and developed her craft at the Academy for Arts and Industry, Enschede and the Free Academy for Modern Art, The Hague. Initially trained in painting, Schwarz moved to linen and thread. Her work is published in two books, Mark Making (2007) and New Potatoes (2012). We asked Schwartz what she listens to when working, “I like it completely quiet when I need to concentrate on the design. When I need to do a part with repeatedly stitching I like to combine it with music or television (news programs, detectives etc.). My favourite music is folk music, mainly Klezmer but also from many other countries.”
Image: Racing Thoughts, 1996, Tilleke Schwarz
The cover of the single Opaline is Schwarz's Racing Thoughts and other parts of the Novo Amor album also include embroidery. Lacey says: “We've also had my photographs printed and embroidered by Brazilian artist Aline Brant and designed a line of clothing based on some of Tilleke’s characters, which will be embroidered onto garments. It was really appealing to have this embroidery thread running through multiple aspects of the album release.”
New Potatoes, Tilleke Schwarz is available from www.tillekeschwarz.com
Cannot Be, Whatsoever, Novo Amor is out now visit novoamor.co.uk
Schwarz was profiled in Selvedge Issue 16: Archive.