Green pincushion - Silk organza applique on linen, hand stitched. Images: www.emilyjogibbs.co.uk.
Selvedge’s 2020 programme of residential textile workshops with leading artists and makers has now launched. Here, we introduce Emily Jo Gibbs, who will lead Embroidered Images, Working with Silk Organza and Hand Stitch in August.
Emily Jo Gibbs is a British artist who has established an international reputation for her delicate textiles. Between 1993 and 2006 Emily was the Creative Director of her own luxury handbag company. Mary Schoeser interviewed Gibbs for Selvedge Issue 91, about her upcoming exhibition The Value of Making and her move away from commercial fashion to creating art work:
A conversation with Emily Jo Gibbs is, it turns out, largely about conversations. She speaks with an engaging passion about the craftspeople she has met in the course of her creation of ‘The Value of Making’, a series of portraits of makers tools, exquisitely rendered in layered silk organza, collaged and stitched to a linen ground. This project, celebrating the value of clever hands, began in 2017 and culminated in an exhibition and publication.
Emily Jo Gibbs, Portrait of a Shoemaker. Photo credit: Lol Johnson.
In the beautiful little catalogue produced to document the show, what is striking is the artist’s descriptions of the conversations that took place during the process. It all began with pincushions. Emily had some given to her by her mother, who had studied fashion and passed on sewing skills to her daughter. Having combined those home-taught skills with metalworking while finishing her degree at Wolverhampton University, she went on – after studying leatherwork in Walsall and shoe making in Leicester (‘Very Boring! Leather wallets, men’s slippers...much more industry based. A shock to the system...’) – to run a successful company making designer bags from 1993-2006.
Through London Fashion Week and similar shows, she came to know Bridget Bailey (see Selvedge blog 2 November, 2018) and understood Bridget’s desire to drive her practice away from the relentless pace of the fashion industry and towards being an artist.
Emily Jo Gibbs, Portrait of a Furniture maker. Photo credit: Lol Johnson.
Her work changed direction in 2005 when she won an award from Craft Central to create a new body of work. The award enabled her to explore new techniques alongside many of the skills she’d honed making handbags.
For more information about Emily Jo Gibbs’ workshop held at Chateau Dumas, Toulouse, visit www.selvedge.org