About Stitch – Links
Stitch – Links was founded in 2005 as an exhibiting group. The current members are Sheila Cahn, Marilyn Carter, Liz Hunter, Mara Lindemann and Maggie Paykel.
With a passion for fabric, focusing on producing interesting and exciting new work, we are committed to exhibiting high quality contemporary and innovative textiles.
Each member has her own individual methods of working, using very different techniques. This gives vitality, variety and energy to our exhibitions. Belonging to a group helps to spark innovation and experimentation, providing the mutual support that we all value.
Stitching is in my family. My mother and both my grandfathers were Savile Row tailors, and I have been sewing since I was a small child. I graduated in printed textile design, and later in embroidered textiles, exploring my two passions, colour and pattern.
I work from my sketches. Drawing helps me put my thoughts in order, makes me think in a fresh way, and enables me to understand what I am seeing.
Textiles intrigue me because of their sculptural qualities: the surfaces of the fabrics in my pieces, whether shiny or matte, smooth or rough, reflect light in a variety of ways. The material sifts and reflects the light, and the colour is within its body, whereas with paper, the colour and light of the paint sitting on its surface are illusory.
I use translucent natural fabrics, which I hand-dye and layer like a painter working with watercolour, before machine stitching and cutting through, to reveal subtle colour relationships. Many of my pieces explore the transitions of light from morning to night, distilled into abstract expressions of colour on land and water.
Keeping a diary and writing poetry has always been important to me. I enjoy the technique of Japanese Haiku poetry. Within the seventeen syllables of each verse I can react to the world around me reflecting time travelling in Europe and the Far East. Words focus me in on a moment in time.
"Reflections water Shimmering colours Fish leaping."
My poetry evolves into my textiles. Tropical Falls and Rzpples, describe vibrant colours, rippling water, reflections, changing sunlight and distorted images. Memories, are paper scrolls of per where the font creates the visual effect.
I use translucent, painted fabrics and papers to cut out text. The negative shapes from each line become distorted echoes of the words. By layering the lines of poetry and echoes I aim to create the atmosphere of the place that inspired me.
Currently, part of my work is experimenting with linear forms. Drawing trees, plants and flowers I focus on lines making patterns. I redraw and repeat linear forms. A Chain Reaction, occurs of linked but changing images.
By scoring, cutting, folding and overlaying textured paper and stiffened fabrics, the textile evolves from 2D into 3D sculpted surfaces. Stitch is used to anchor and define areas.
Cloth and Memory
I love cloth for all its infinite variety and uses, its feel in my hands and its ability to shape and hold memories. As a child I watched in fascination as my mother stitched and knitted, I was a quick and eager pupil.
Durham quilts, nightdresses, embroidered bed linen, wedding bodices and teaching samples all made by my mother’s family, have been passed down to me. They fashioned beautiful garments from simple fabrics, wasted nothing, unpicked and reshaped and made patchwork quilts and rag rugs. These tangible memories of the women in my family influence and inspire my work.
These experimental pieces, influenced by my grandmother’s intricate samplers, using only white ric rac and cotton thread to explore pattern and texture.
Reworking the image
Using pieces of boiled wool from an unpicked jacket and inspired by the decaying vegetable plot I pleated, darted and handstitched to form tactile versions. After mounting on plinths they looked like ancient remains and acquired another layer of memories.
Shibori (quite unknown to my great grandmothers but a favourite technique of mine). Shibori techniques always leave their memories and ilnprints in the finished cloth. I use rust and indigo that gently fade and stitching that is guided by the patterns and subtleties of the cloth.
The attitude of ‘I don’t know anything about quilts, except they go on beds and keep you warm’ needs to be changed. As a child I stitched and as an embroiderer I taught patchwork and quilting for Julia Caprara. I want to challenge the textile world with the use of unusual but everyday fabric such as paper. A series of paper quilts has led to the combining of both fabric and paper in the same stitched work, where it is impossible to tell the difference.
I scrunch up brown paper and silk cotton which I wash over with gesso, write on and eventually colour with diluted acrylics or even use old pots of silk paints or recycle bits of painted Bondaweb onto the surfaces as well. If I am having a bad day this is time to write those memories into the surface of both fabrics.
Elements of today’s artists are combined into fabric surfaces. The obsessive mark making of Boetti and Linda Karshan, messages written by Fiona Banner in her early work, lines in the work of Diebenkorn and for inspiration, the work of Sean Scully. I can look back at the finished work and be reminded of the stitched memories it contains.
I started taking photos in black and white as a teenager and this became my first creative work. The arrival of colour film gave me more scope for experimentation. I still take photos all the time but use them mainly for experimentation and recording.
The first time I handled clay I knew that I liked working with my hands and preferred making three-dimensional work, and I enrolled on a 3D Design Course. The material itself intrigued me the feel of the raw and then the fired clay, the colours and chemistry of the glazes and experimentations with form. During the degree course I explored other materials found objects of metal, wood and textile and combined them with the clay.
I now work with felt both handmade and industrial and produce three-dimensional forms combining felt with metal and other found objects. I like the contrast between hard and soft, and use various techniques such as stitching, weaving, bending and painting.
Contemporary art and modern architecture influence my work. High-rise buildings sheathed in glass allow their insides to be seen but also reflect the sky and surrounding buildings. The geometric patterns can be severe, but also pleasing and are broken up by wavy and colourful reflections.