1. What’s your story? Where are you from?
I’m Chloe and I make hand embroidered hoop art and design hand embroidery patterns. I am from Birmingham in the UK and have lived here for all of my life so far; I am very fond of it in many ways, though confess I have always longed to live in the countryside, something I would still love to do one day! When I was growing up we had a caravan in Wales and I loved the wildness of the landscape, I think going there instilled in me a great love for nature and the outdoors. After leaving college I worked with mixed media textile and paper collage for around six years, before starting to work with hand embroidery back in 2015.
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.
I would say that my aesthetic is quite nature focussed, I generally work with images of plants and animals. I love folk art type imagery and bright colour too.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?
My favourite medium is, without a doubt, embroidery. I love the fact that it takes quite a long time to stitch a piece, so it is quite a meditative process, and I find all of the materials really pleasing; the colourful threads, beads, lovely natural coloured fabric (natural calico is my fabric of choice) and the wooden hoops.
4. What is your artistic process like?
Generally, when starting a new piece of work begin by gathering reference material and making rough sketches. I then make a more final drawing which I turn into line art (using pen and paper, I particularly enjoy hand drawing my patterns) before scanning it into the computer to make final tweaks. I then transfer the pattern to fabric before starting to stitch. Sometimes if I am not planning to turn a piece into a pattern, I will draw directly onto the fabric.
Occasionally I like to work on a more abstract piece. For these I begin with a plain piece of fabric and start to stitch in quite a random way, gradually building up areas of colour with thread and beads.
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?
I am primarily inspired by nature; I love working on embroideries featuring plants and birds. I stitch a lot of pictures of wildflowers, there are so many out there they seems to be an almost inexhaustible source of inspiration! I find gardens to be very inspiring too.
In terms of who, my Mum is a textile artist so she has always been a really inspiring person to me. She worked with ceramics for many years before changing over to textiles some years ago and I am sure my own love of textiles and embroidery was fuelled by seeing her work, and also probably by the little bags of gorgeous embroidery thread she brings home from quilt shows!
My Dad also made wooden bowls for a while, and my Nans were talented knitters, so I was bought up in quite a creative environment which really influenced the path I have taken with my work.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?
When I first started to create pieces of work, I used to feel like I had to make a piece of work inspired by absolutely everything I saw that I found attractive or appealing. This was a little exhausting and also sort of impossible, as I spend quite a bit of time out in and looking at nature! Over the years I have gradually taught myself to be able to look at things (birds, trees etc) and enjoy them without putting myself under pressure to incorporate absolutely everything into pieces of work, but I do really enjoy looking for things to inspire new pieces and am always thinking of what would work well in an embroidery, and how I might go about stitching certain things.
Art plays a huge role in my life, as it is what I do as a job so takes up a lot of my time. I feel very grateful to have been able to pursue something which I enjoy. I find it really rewarding too, thinking that there are people around the world stitching my patterns and hopefully enjoying them. I am not much of a travelling person, preferring to stay in the UK, so I find it quite fun that I can sort of travel vicariously through my embroideries and patterns!
7. Where did you study?
I went to college in Birmingham where two of the A levels I did were art and photography. I tried to take textiles too but sadly wasn’t allowed to do three art subjects! After that, I did an art foundation year at Birmingham City University where I focussed on textiles. Other than that I am self-taught.
8. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Ideally, in the coming years, I’d be very happy to be doing what I do now work-wise, but I would like to develop and experiment with different ways of working. I’d like to experiment with working on some larger free-hanging pieces and am also planning to start creating some brooches soon.
9. What about in ten?
I’m really not sure! Ten years is a long way off to think about, but I hope to still be working with embroidery at least. Oh and I’d like to have learned how to play the accordion or concertina! (see question 13)
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?
One of the things I find most rewarding about creating embroidery patterns is the thought that they are hopefully bringing enjoyment to people, so I would like to keep creating new patterns, as well as working on new original pieces to further explore my favourite subject matter.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?
Ooh, a difficult one! My Mum cooks wonderful food that I love all of, and I am also possibly going to be slightly boring and say that I love pizza. Oh and cake too!
12. Favourite book?
I love books. My current favourite is The Concise British Flora by W. Keeble Martin, a beautiful wildflower book. I looked at it for ages before finally buying my own copy and I am so glad that I did, it is wonderful and so inspiring. I am a bit short of space for books sadly, as my workspace/ bedroom is quite small, but if I had more room I would be very tempted to gather quite a collection of flower books!
13. Favourite genre of music?
I love music and listen to quite a range of it, but folk music is my favourite, both traditional and contemporary. I was bought up listening to folk songs and instrumental folk music, and my love for it has stayed with me. I would love to learn to play an instrument one day, probably either the accordion or concertina.
14. What are your hobbies?
I enjoy reading, listening to music and spending time outdoors.
15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
I always thought that I wanted to be a photographer, specifically photographing equestrian sport, so I think that’s what I’d like to do if I wasn’t doing embroidery. Otherwise, it’d be something to do with looking after animals.