1. What’s your story? Where are you from?
I’m Rachel, a Bristolian textile artist who has been living in Berlin for the last couple of years and I have recently just moved back to the U.K. I learnt how to do the free motion embroidery technique when I was in college and I have been hooked ever since.
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.
I love using vintage fabrics with patterns and bright colours, it’s also important to me to try and give old fabrics a second new lease of life.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?
My favourite medium is the stitch, I rarely ever draw with pen and pencils anymore unless it’s to draw out a design, keeping a sketchbook is something I would like to get back into though. I love working with fabrics, using different textures and trying to convey emotions in my portraits with thread.
4. What is your artistic process like?
Usually, I find my inspiration by flicking through magazines or finding pictures on the internet, then I draw out a sketch and start thinking about fabric choices. After that it’s a process of cutting things out, ironing fabrics and finally drawing the design with thread on the sewing machine. I`m a pretty impatient person, so I don`t spend a lot of time planning my work if I can help it!
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?
I really love portrait photography, a lot of the people I stitch are based on photographs I’ve seen and liked. Pattern and colour are aspects that I love incorporating into my work, so I love perusing charity shops and markets to try and find old fabrics. Most of my portraits are of women in contemplative states, I am inspired by the idea of the modern day woman and the ways in which their roles pull them in so many different directions, my portraits are an ode to the time of quiet contemplation that you so need in everyday life.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?
Creating art is my own personal form of therapy, it’s my stress relief and I think without that outlet I would struggle so much more in life.
7. Where did you study?
I studied History of Art at the University of Manchester, after completing an Art Foundation at Queen’s Road College in Bristol. I decided that I wanted to learn more about the history of art and be able to develop my own techniques and style in my own time.
8. Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years, I´ll be thirty and I`ve made a little promise to myself that on my 30th birthday I´ll be celebrating on a beach somewhere in French Polynesia.
9. What about in ten?
I really don’t know where I’ll be in ten years, that’s kind of the beauty of life I think. But I hope that I`ll be content and still making art, perhaps in my own studio somewhere with lots of dogs.
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?
If the sight of my work makes someone happy or interested in a technique that is not often talked about or seen, then that’s enough for me, although a girl’s gotta eat so being able to earn some money alongside is always a plus! It’s a really nice feeling knowing that my work is adorning someone’s wall somewhere, I really love making commissioned portraits, there’s nothing like the feeling of being trusted to make something so special and then getting it right.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?
My guilty pleasure is chips from my local fish and chip shop covered in lashings of salt and vinegar with some tomato ketchup.
12. Favourite book?
My favourite genre to read is fantasy and I love immersing myself in different worlds, most probably influenced by my Dad spending years reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Chronicles of Narnia to me every night until we had read them all from start to finish. I really loved reading the Northern Lights trilogy, and the most recent book I read and loved was La Belle Sauvage, the newest in the series by Philip Pullman.
13. Favourite genre of music?
That’s a tough question because it really depends on my mood but at the moment the album I have on repeat all the time is Rumours by Fleetwood Mac.
14. What are your hobbies?
My art is my main hobby but I love plants, after moving away from my home in Berlin I’m just starting to build up my collection of green again, they just make me so happy. I’ve also started to get into D.IY, and I’ve been doing little projects around the house. I’ve already made a shelf out of some old wood and I’m hoping to make more. I love using the electric sander and staining the wood after, I find it so therapeutic.
15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
I’d love to be an Occupational Therapist, I think it’s a field where I could use my creativity to help people with aspects of their daily life that they find hard and to improve their wellbeing. Art has been so important to me and my own sense of wellbeing, I would love to be able to help someone find something they could use to improve theirs. I’m hoping to study a Master’s in this in the near future.