Bravery, prowess and nobility: these are some of the lion’s trademark characteristics. Used symbolically throughout history, nowadays the figure of the lion is most associated with the Narnia chronicles, the Griffyndor household and as the Lannister emblem in Game of Thrones. While it undoubtedly symbolises ferocity in many forms, the lion can be at its most arresting when its fierceness takes on its most unexpected form: cushioned.
Illustrator and embroiderer Megan Ivy Griffiths is a testament to this kind of soft power. Her soft dolls are an excellent example of what happens when the lion's ferocious character is transformed through intricate craft, and into style.
Inspired by folklore and fairy tales, Griffiths was first trained as an illustrator before transitioning into textile design – and it’s easy to guess as much from the pastel palettes of her thread and the simplified, curved forms of her dolls. As well as lions she casts bears, rabbits, cats and people in fairy tale roles, carefully considering each character’s individual costume design hailed from the decorative textiles of European folklore. Her ornamental touch tames her characters' abandon in a wondrous and affectionate labour of love.
Griffiths' approach to such a culturally saturated character is beautifully intimate. Subverting the lion’s typical character as protector, standing proud and guarding its pack, she instead chooses to render him asleep. This vulnerability is at the heart of her ferocity, and is typical of the power behind her gentle, subtle stylings. Who says gentility can’t be ferocious? Not us.
Megan Ivy Griffiths will be leading a fairy tale embroidery workshop at the Selvedge studio in London next January.