Our latest featured artist Liz Jeary creates embroidered photography. Liz combines often figurative photography with the more detailed and complicated process of hand-stitching to add humour and meaning to her images.
We spoke to Liz about her inspiration as an artist and how she found a love for ‘photobroidery’.
Q: Describe your style of art
A: Whimsical comes to mind, I don’t take myself too seriously as an artist. I like to play with texture and the surface of images, be it digitally or physically. In recent years, this has been in the form of Photobroidery, which is printing photographs and embroidering through the surface. I have also experimented with printing on different surfaces, such as textured wallpaper. Some people may read it as conceptual, which is true for some of the series, but there is also a lot of more organic projects which are the result of spontaneous experiments rather than planned outcomes.
Q: When did you begin your career in art?
A: I was a very creative child but never really found my niche. In my mid-20s I decided to start pursuing my capabilities and found that photography suited my imagination. I’d had a camera since I was about 8 but hadn’t pushed myself to do anything more than snapshots, although I loved what I could do with a simple click. The availability of digital cameras really opened up my eyes to what was possible and the experimenter in me has continued with that ethos. Turning 30 was a real ‘ah-ha’ moment for me, so I returned to education and completed a BA (Hons) in Photography & Digital Imaging, which was really the point in which I felt like an artist.
Q: Who or what inspires your art?
A: Kate Bush is a major influence! She was the first singer I was aware of as a child and her voice and music has stayed with me since. Six-year-old me didn’t understand the complexity of her lyrics, so my imagination always visualised them in a very literal way. This still translates into my images, such as the Suspended in Gaffa series. My vivid imagination also inspires a creative outlet, sometimes with great humour, sometimes with a sadder outlook, which probably describes me as an individual too.
People and shapes are also a big influence – I love unusual faces and seeing them in print inspires me to creatively react, also pulling in references from artists using geometric form, such as Piet Mondrian. During research for one of my degree modules I discovered some of his early work and was amazed to find more traditional, detailed paintings. Seeing his progress from these to the lines and colour blocks he is most widely known for, made me see the impact of being more simplified, which I now apply to my work.
Q: What is one of your favourite pieces that you have done and why?
A: Can I have three? Suspended in Gaffa for it’s simplicity and success – I’ve had this published in a magazine, included in six exhibitions alongside some big names in Fine Art Photography, and have sold five sets to private collectors. Earth 2.0 was my first (and biggest) project using Photobroidery – each image took over eight hours to complete and for this reason alone, I will never part with them. They were also a collaboration with my partner, Nigel, as he illustrated the initial robot sketches, so they are also special for that reason. Wednesday’s Child is my favourite in terms of pure creativity. It was conceived one rainy day whilst browsing through my archives and discovering a stash of self portraits I didn’t realise I had amassed. Different looks over a decade tied in with different periods of my life, which made me think of all the people I have been, yet to me I am still the same. Some people find these a little hard to digest but I find them amusing on some level.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: This month I am organising and curating an exhibition in Devon (whilst working in Liverpool) so this is taking up a lot of time, but I’m also working on embroidering a book of my photographs. This is a first and certainly a challenge! I’m also planning some outdoor photo shoots, taking inspiration from music again and also taking advantage of the weather. There is a concept behind it but I’m keeping that behind closed doors as inevitably it will develop into something else by the time I come to execute it.
Q: What would your advice for an emerging artist be?
A: Know your peers, know art history and be patient. I converse with a lot of emerging artists and although they are hungry for success, they’re often unsure of how to use their time to achieve this, or how to carve out a spot in the market for their particular style, especially if it’s been done before. Success can come quickly for some, and can be a slow game for others – it’s not always about talent, it’s about balancing confidence with opportunity and reality.
Q: What’s your most unusual artistic habit/strangest technique which you have learnt?
A: Sewing on photographs is a strange technique to me, considering I cannot sew on fabric! My partner would probably say that my unusual habit is using the arms of my sofa as a giant pin cushion – it’s old and tired but the most comfortable place for me to sew, so having my homemade awl (a Prosecco bottle cork with a needle in) and various needles to hand is crucial when I’m in a creative mood. Saying that, I often forget they are there and the inevitable injury will occur!
You can view more of Liz’s fascinating artwork over on her portfolio.