Natasha at Liberty

“Hand stitching is important, it is very different to using a looks different, it is less regimented, less immediate and stitching by hand takes time."

Textile artist Natasha Kerr's pieces all work to reveal hidden histories and family secrets through a captivating cast of characters. Many years ago, inspiration struck when her mother gave her a forgotten album of old photographs. She transferred them to textiles, trying to establish the stories of the family members. This began a theme that has made Kerr one of Britain's most interesting and thoughtful textiles artists.

Kerr wanted to show her work not in a fractured way, but as a chronology of a family, to make it coherent – not just a series of amusing anecdotes. “It is a story of migration, change and the cycle of life,” she explains. A sterile white gallery space seemed inappropriate; instead Kerr rented a decaying property of the Peabody Trust and created an extraordinary installation that reflected her family’s past.

Kerr has also been commissioned to create portraits including surprise presents and approaches these projects like a detective or psychologist; researching the subject through family and friends. “I am creating heirlooms,” she says, “but ones that the public will never see. I am creating not a decorative object but a reflection of who the recipient is, and how others perceive them. These are stories that would otherwise be lost."

Kerr works on blank cream antique linen sheet. The work is hand-painted, silk screen printed, transfer printed, appliquéd and hand stitched. Next month, her work will be on display in the haberdashery department of Liberty London

Adapted from an article by Corinne Julius for the Quilt issue

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