In 2006, in the midst of a hugely successful career as a luxury handbag designer, British-born maker Emily Jo Gibbs gave it all up. In high demand from designers and press around the world, it was with thanks to a grant that Emily chose to break free from the constrictions of commercial production and venture into her then lesser-known genre of textile art. She then went on to create her intriguing ‘nature table’ displays, finding the beauty in bits of moss, grass or peeling bark, and recreating them one stitch at a time.
‘I started making hand embroidered drawings of sticks in jam jars,’ she explains, ‘enjoying the quiet beauty of these everyday items… Determined to make work that was personally and creatively rewarding, I then embarked on a series of embroidered portraits of my family.’ Since then, Emily’s reputation as an independent textile artist has become just as celebrated as her career first was in the fashion world.
From her family photographs, Emily reached out to her own community in a project known as Kids Today, where she has been embroidering portraits of the children who live and play on the small cul-de-sac where she lives in South East London. After having her own children, Emily’s priorities in life shifted and this project attempts to capture this new trajectory, interpreting a moment in childhood that can be kept as a memento throughout many generations.
Emily Jo Gibbs will be teaching a Silk Illustrations workshop at the Artworkers' Guild this April. The class will involve experimenting with composition, using over-lapping layers of translucent fabrics to build areas of different colours and tones. Using a variety of media including pencil, ink, silk paint and stitch, Emily will offer individual help, so that you can explore these mediums with confidence and create your illustration.
For more information and to book a place, click here.