All textiles are records. Whether it’s the odd bump in a scarf or the veering line in a blanket, the sign of the maker stays on the surface forever – but it’s not just the artistic process that textiles document. For centuries, artists have chosen to use illustrative stitch to chronicle the world around them. From the most famous historic tapestries to high fashion embellishments, it’s quite clear that to stitch is to record.
Contemporary textile artist Sue Stone does precisely this. With simple, clear shapes, attentive lines and lively colour, Stone portrays the people who form a part of her life in an ongoing series of illustrated portraits. With a distinct snapshot quality she free-styles her way across her chosen fabric with a combination of hand and machine embroidery, giving this ancient craft a crisp, contemporary style. Adding appliqué and needlework to the mix, Stone manages to find a balance between the decorative and the restrained.
Through her body of work Stone’s life can be read like a book; from loved ones performing every day domestic duties to enjoying a drink in the local pub, she imbues her works with a hint of imagination almost every time. Having grown up with a fishmonger for a father, the fish is one reoccurring figure in her portraits that acts as a link between the real and the imagined.
They say that fiction is the truest critique of the contemporary world, and as Stone’s work wavers between her inner and outer life, her artwork will remain a sign of the times, forever.
Sue Stone will be leading an illustrative stitch workshop with Selvedge in Chateau Dumas, France, next August 2018. To find out more and to book your place, click here.
For more about the relationship between tapestry and historic documentation, pick up a current issue of Selvedge to see an epic embroidered tapestry that was recently unveiled at Documenta 14. To find out more and to order your copy, click here.