Power of Stitch 2022

Further to its successful showings in 2019, Power of Stitch returns post-Covid to Babylon Arts Gallery, Ely

Due to a change in EAST membership the work on display will vary slightly from that seen at Braintree Museum and Snape Maltings in 2019.

In Power of Stitch EAST members have interpreted this deliberately enigmatic title within their own areas of research whilst retaining a focus on stitch to define their creative journey.

“You do not need to know hundreds of stitches, but you need to use the ones you know well”
Constance Howard MBE (1910-2000)
Principal Lecturer of Fashion and Textiles, Goldsmiths

Melinda Berkovitz

For the Power of Stitch, I have returned to one of my popular themes - water studies.  

In this work, I considered the relationship between the sea and the men that come every day to fish by the sea wall.

My frequent walks along the Jaffa port and coastline have allowed me to be the observer, the recorder and the collector of discarded fishing apparel. Endless hours of watching the sea in all weathers and the tenacity of the fisherman is inspiring.

Felicity Borwick

'A Place to Live'
This piece was prompted by my feelings of powerlessness, anger and distrust when local plans and reason are overridden by human greed. During the research for this piece, I began to feel increasingly a part of a game beyond my control.

Creating my artwork after a frustrating ordeal with the planning process has been therapeutic and also provides a medium for getting my voice heard and raising awareness of the current trend of allowing unsympathetic developments to erode the English landscape.

The Power of Stitch has been used by many artists from the past to the present day. Nineteenth century artists Lorina Bulwer, Elizabeth Parker and Agnes Richter dramatically stitched text to express their trauma and sense of injustice.

The finished artwork is 1.5 metres square. The centre is hand quilted on hand dyed cotton. This is bordered by appliqued and machined rectangles and with free machined lettering. 

Please note:
As this piece of work was selected to be archived in The Hold, Suffolk Archives in Ipswich it will not actually be shown at the exhibition. Instead, there will be the opportunity to view some close-up detailed images of the hanging.

Janette Bright

A stitch that can make or break - how over a twenty-five year period tambour embroidery could change the lives of London women, for richer or for poorer.

For Power of Stitch, I considered the stories of three individuals or groups of individuals:
* A milliner (Mme Pignerolle) in London 1765
* A group of roughly thirty girls apprenticed from the London Foundling Hospital in 1766
* Two girls listed in the 1780s as having no work, committed suicide.

All were involved in the same technique of tambour embroidery.

Angela Brookford

In the past my work has not had any political dimension. It has expressed my more individual concerns. However, the current situation in the world and especially the issue of climate change, I  now feel such matters cannot be avoided. This triptych Is the first of a series of work on the ‘Killing of Mother Earth’.

‘Shadow Over the Landscape’ is expressing my concerns about my immediate environment. I live in the south of East Cambridgeshire. The farming landscape here is undulating and predominately arable. It seems recent farming practice, including the widespread use of chemicals, have not taken into account the long term impact, on wildlife, ground water and soil health.
In this piece there is reference to the threat of nuclear war. Something that has been a background noise all my adult life. I started this work well before the current situation with Ukraine and although I felt it needed to be expressed as a potential threat, I had no idea how close we would be to this being more of a reality.

For the ‘Power of Stitch’  submission I have used a mixture of hand, machine and manufactured stitching. The landscapes are not realistic, are stylised. The use of bright  colours helps to  exaggerate the effect of the dark shadows, the threats, that creep upward toward the horizon, the future.

Susan Canfield

When the title for the  exhibition, Power of Stitch,  was decided my immediate thoughts turned towards the narrative this phrase evoked.

My work for Power of Stitch shows a brief summary of the textile revolution, from power to empowerment, ending with the badge of the W.S.P.U. (Women’s Social and Political Union), the militant suffragette group, formed in 1903, highlighting the empowerment for all of needle and thread - Power of Stitch - into the twenty-first century.

Liz (Hammond) Eaton

I used stitch to gain confidence and peace of mind after a particularly stressful time of ill health and family bereavement.

I included some of the work created at an enjoyable workshop by Diane Bates to build designs based on Sizewell power station.

Jennie Leslie

After a trip to Yellowstone Park in 2016 I focused on depicting the immense power of volcanic formations by studying Mammoth Springs, which is like a living limestone waterfall, as well as looking at lava flows that can be found in Hawaii.

Lynda Monk

I took the original source for these pieces of wearable art from three main areas of interest: my admiration for Grayson Perry, a fascination with graffiti in all shapes and forms and a fondness of the Punk/Cosplay movement.

Grayson Perry uses his art work as a means to tell the world his thoughts and feelings, Graffiti artists use any available public surface to get their message across and Steam Punk enthusiasts dress to convey their re/upcycling aesthetic in their love of the old, the repaired, the reworked and the imperfect.

I created these wearable art pieces in a style that embraces the Victorian era and that of Steam Punk culture, adorning it with graffiti. I decided against using my own views for the graffiti and have instead used a light-hearted and varied approach with a few of my favourite, and some well-known, phrases and cartoons.

In these pieces I used the power of stitch to construct forms to carry thoughts, opinions and feelings using the power of words.

Kay Mullenger
I was initially inspired by Adrienne Rich's poem Diving into the Wreck. In this work I focused on a favourite area of East Anglia - the Norfolk coast, where elemental forces and the passing of time transform the shoreline and the previously buried groynes on Caister beach.

The groynes emerge from and disappear back into the land and sea, zig-zagging their way as if stitched into place.

The power of the sea has forced large stones between the groynes’ metal poles, while their rusting and decaying bear witness to the fragility and the transience of human-imposed structures that nature will eventually reclaim.

Tricia North

For Power of Stitch I looked at the impact of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), from WW1 on future generations, by exploring epigenetic inheritance.

I studied human DNA and how it can be manipulated and interrupted by each person’s life chances.

My piece of work uses plastic, metal and thread to highlight the perfection of humanity in conjunction with the man-made world with which it interacts.

Libby Smith

A Changing Landscape

Through the use of photographic images, fabric and mixed media I explored the changing seasonal colours and textures of the North Essex landscape and the creeping urbanisation and industrial development.

Vinny Stapley

‘Memories are yet fleeting’ 2013-2021

“The moon ‘spins’ time and ‘weaves’ humans lives. The  Goddesses of Destiny are Spinners” Mircea Eliade
As my mother succumbed to Dementia I was aware of the need to encapsulate her memories into an artwork, and inspired by My Great Grandfather who was a children’s  tailor that I would make a coat sculpture . Made from delicately decayed fabrics and fragments of lace from family wedding and christening gowns, images and memento-mori from my mothers family. I have revisited it over time, adding, stitching and recording more detail and imagery. This is was particularly so over this last lockdown when I wasn’t able to see her, the mark-making of the stitch recording the passing of time. The transparent fabrics gives it a shifting blurred edge and it casts shadows in the space its is hung, for me  a metaphor for unanswered questions. In creation of this piece I have tried to give those fading memories a voice, with each stitch I have harnessed the power to tell my families story.

Margaret Talbot

For my Power of Stitch pieces I looked at rocks and caves, in particular in relation to texture and rock formation seen in Cappadocia, Petra and Yucatan.

Stitch can have amazing strength to fasten and hold shapes without any other supports. My manipulated three-dimensional fabric sculptures are held fast and stand using only the power of stitch.

Stitches are so versatile that they allow the fabric to be manipulated in many different ways.

Julie Topsfield

I have been inspired by the landscape and the blackhouses found on the Outer Hebrides, and how nature and the elements can dictate the way they are built and the land crofted.

I interpreted this powerful landscape by combining some elements found in the islands together with detailed stitch.