When you think about embroidery the image that pops in your head is your grandma, needle in one hand, sitting in her swing chair, surrounded by carbon paper, focused on creating complicated still-lives, destined to be stored and forgotten in a drawer. But probably, browsing through new hashtag trends, we could discover a whole new world.
Embroidery Art - next to needle punching and modern macrame - is having its 15 minutes of fame between new artists, mostly on Instagram: from the most simplistic floral design @morningswithmasonneedlework [Fig. 1], to some very unorthodox lettering @ellucystitches [Fig. 2], passing by very accurate architectural representations @petronella.art [Fig. 3].
A technique that requires time, method and a lot of patience, in which, based on the stitch and the fabric, a piece can take up to weeks, but that surely offers the space and free expression every artist needs.
Embroidery has played, during centuries and in the life of many women, an important role: in past ages, for women, mothers, housewives it was the only getaway, a quiet way out from the routine and society constraints. This getaway became then a not very silent weapon for artists during the 20th century, as in Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party [Fig. 4].
«Because of its history and associations embroidery evokes and inculcates femininity in the embroiderer. But it can also lead women to an awareness of the extraordinary constraints of femininity, providing at times a means of negotiating them, and at other times provoking the desire to escape.»
That is what Rozsika Parker writes in The Subversive Stitches enlightening the importance embroidery had in feminist fights.
But even though embroidery has always been seen as a feminine activity, with its comeback, and thanks to its suppleness, more and more people are embracing this technique. Charles Henry is the most immediate example: starting his career as a photographer and illustrator, he fell in love with embroidery the very first time he saw what a needle and a simple thread can create and decided that it had to be part of his future.
He then quit his job and started his journey through embroidery [Fig. 5].
Now Charles Henry, side by side with his wife Elin Petronella, runs a podcast about his passion, gives workshops and sells his own pieces.
They are pieces of evidence that you can live of embroidery.