Sue Stone is currently exhibiting in 'Displaced' at Owen James Gallery, New York
Our Directory Maker of the Week, Sue Stone, talks to us about getting into making, what inspires her and her favourite part of the making process.
Who or what got you into making?
I’m the daughter of a talented seamstress who was professionally trained as a tailor. I grew up surrounded by cloth so it was my mum who first got me into making when I was very young. It was a natural progression to designing clothes and when I went to art school, fashion design was my first choice. I was lucky enough to go on to study fashion design at St Martins School of Art.
I realised that the world of fashion didn’t suit me, at least not at that time. I didn’t complete my degree course and I had no idea what I would do next. Then I discovered the textiles/embroidery course at Goldsmiths College and met Constance Howard whose enthusiasm for embroidery as an art form was infectious. She changed my approach to my work and the way I thought about making.
Could you tell us a bit about your work?
Hand embroidery forms the foundation of my work. I often mix hand stitch with machine embroidery and paint to make compositions which are textural, usually figurative and often offer a partial narrative to the viewer. Sometimes they deliver a serious message, and sometimes they show my slightly surreal sense of humour. I usually work in 2D and the scale of my work varies from small studies to large installations of multiple modules.
The passing on of skills is important to me and I regularly deliver talks and workshops throughout the UK. I returned to embroidery after a long career in fashion design and manufacture and since 2006 my work has been widely exhibited throughout the UK, and in Europe, the USA, Pakistan and Japan.
What are your inspirations?
An art school education taught me to look so my inspiration is all around me. It is wherever I am. The unexpected and ‘out of place’, the seen, the heard, the remembered, whatever I have experienced and how it has affected me; my personal relationships, and my life observations; the pride I have in my Grimsby heritage and the strength of character of the people from the former fishing town. I’m also an avid photographer and have a large library of my own images, usually of small details and textures, to draw upon whenever I need them.
What is your favourite part of the making process?
It’s the starting of a new piece that’s my favourite part; the holding and manipulating of the cloth in my hands, the first stitches going in and the anticipation of what the result will be. Having gone through the long and often anxious process of thinking and forming ideas, I find the process and rhythm of making very restorative.
What are you working on right now?
I have several things on the go at the moment.
My solo exhibition ‘Displaced’ is on until 28 May 2017 at Owen James Gallery in Brooklyn, NYC, USA
I’m currently making a series of self portraits which look at our perception of identity for an exhibition entitled ‘A Portrait’ with the group ‘Through Our Hands’. This will be shown at the Festival of Quilts 10 to 13 August 2017.
I’m just about to start a private commission.
I’m collecting memories and working on concepts for new work for ‘I Remember You’ a major solo exhibition at the Muriel Barker Gallery at the Fishing Heritage Centre in my hometown of Grimsby - 24 March to 15 July 2018.
As chair of the 62 Group of Textile Artists I’m currently working with curator, Liz Cooper on a project called CTRL/Shift : a touring exhibition. Our launch venue is MAC, Birmingham - 21 July to 9 September 2018 and I’m also forming my own ideas for a submission for this exhibition.