Stitches with meaning

A few years ago at Harrogate I saw some really stunning, original embroidery in the graduate showcase and was really pleased to see the work of Caren Garfen back again, this time with her own exhibition.

Caren’s work is called ‘She was cooking something up’ and is based around a kitchen installation. It takes the theme of women’s lives and their relationship with food, dieting and body image. Not only is it technically amazing, all of this is hand stitching on screen printed backgrounds, but so creative and powerful.

Apologies as my images are all a bit yellow due to the show lighting.

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 2

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 3

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 4

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 5

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 6

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 7

Harrogate 2014 Caren's work 8

I was lucky enough to be able to talk to Caren and tell her how much I loved her work.

There are some more detailed pictures (in better light) at this show link.

Her website  also gives more details of her work and there is a really interesting interview with Caren at this link on the Textile Artist web site. I particularly like the way her work links modern stitching with the history of women’s work and needlework.

As someone who is really interested in the history of needlework it is fascinating the way that women’s lives were often influenced heavily by their skills with a needle in terms of employment, readiness for marriage, social activities etc and this work makes us think through stitching about our lives and current pressures on them.

No longer do we have to be proficient needlewomen to clothe our families, or ‘make do and mend’ to help the war effort, or have 12 quilt tops ready before we get married but for many of us needlecrafts and knitting are still very central to our lives.

It always fascinates me as someone who has crafted all her life that knitting, quilting, embroidery and sewing are now popular like never before (and often on prime time TV), not because we have to do it but because we want to do it and the ‘handmade home’ is now once again valued over mass production.

The fact that the internet (the original idea of linking computers was to protect data in the event of war) is such as resource for us all (not just women but mainly women) to share ideas, encourage each other and to often enable us to sell our work is fantastic.

My life would definitely by so much poorer without my bloggy  ‘imaginary friends’ as my kids call them. So on that note thanks for visiting and have a nice week ahead!

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