Nameless Wonders is exhibiting at Project Ability Gallery, Glasgow, until 24 February
Our Directory Maker of the Week, Nameless Wonders (Karen Suzuki), 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?
Like many other textiles makers I’ve met, I was taught stitching and embroidery at a very early age by my gran. She was a keen and expert embroiderer, and also worked in the local linen thread mill, so she passed on her love of working in textiles to me.
Could you please tell us a bit about your work?
I make stitched textile objects that are usually based in some way on animals. Most are fanciful, anthropomorphic creatures but I also make birds that are based more on observation of the real thing.
My technical approach is very simple: everything is hand sewn, with loosely worked stitching, appliqué and embroidered elements. I like the feeling of intimacy you get from working directly with your hands, and how that allows the form and surface to easily shift and develop as the work progresses. It’s also important to me to retain an impression of the human hand at work in each piece, allowing mistakes to happen and changes of mind to remain visible. My hope is that gives each piece its own sense of vitality.
What are your inspirations?
My inspirations are numerous – I’m quite a peripheral thinker, and a gatherer, so I can trace different elements of my work back to multiple sources of inspiration. The inspirations that are most evident in the work though are toys, Staffordshire pottery figures, stop motion animation and, of course, animals themselves. I’m also inspired by Edward Lear, the work of artist Jean Dubuffet and textile artists such as Junko Oki, amongst many others.
What is your favourite part of the making process?
I probably enjoy the process of making the faces most. There is no real plan to what expression a particular piece will have; I like to let it emerge with my help. There’s a real pleasure in seeing how the facial expression determines the character of the whole piece, and imagining how viewers will respond to that.
What are you working on right now?
At the moment I’m making stock for the inaugural Made by Hand Cheltenham show in March, at Cheltenham Town Hall. It’s my first Made by Hand show so I’m very much looking forward to that!
See Karen's work as part of 'Cant' Take My Eyes Off You' at the Project Ability Gallery, Glasgow until 24 February 2018.