From stitching jackets for rappers to creating innovative wall murals, the oldest form of embroidery – the cross-stitch – is being revived through myriad projects around the world
Aheneah, Switch-over: Cross stitch on wall, Vila Franca de Xira, Portugal, 700 meters of wool; 2300 screws, 2 m x 5 m, 2018. Self-initiated project executed with the support of Junta de Freguesia Vila Franca de Xira. Image Courtesy of the Artist.
‘It’s a labour of love. It takes dedication and time and discipline. I am making the folks that I love an armour for their soul in the form of denim jackets.’ Intersecting the mediums of hip and cross stitch creatively, Emma McKee’s creations transcend the stereotypical association of the craft with our grandparents’ pastime. Working from her studio in Chicago, Emma accidentally found her calling in this craft when ‘Chance’ the rapper ‘chanced’ (sorry, couldn’t resist) upon the work online and decided to buy it from her.
Aheneah, Swing of Spring: Unique piece, 31 Colours, 550 meters of wool, 1800 nails, Wood board, 2.52 m x 1.75 m, 2018. Image Courtesy of the Artist.
The story only gets better because she chose to barter her designs for more art or other benefits as opposed to money. This was quite clever because it not only repurposes art forms, but also encourages meaningful trade. Talk about a stitch in time!
Cross-stitch has also seen an interesting revival through murals, such as the works of Aheneah or Ana Martins. ‘My work process is very curious. I always start working on digital software to plan everything including the final pattern. I move quicker that way.’ Growing up and seeing her great-grandmothers, grandmothers and mother sewing or weaving made her want to join their ‘club’. She realised that the cross-stitch method was very much like working with pixels on a graphic design layout. Thus complexly interweaving colours and textured threads, her murals are a fantastic intersection of street art and homely craft.
Emma McKee, BJ The Chicago Kid. Image Courtesy of the Artist. Image Credit: http://stitchgawd.com/
Last but not the least, the cross-stitch is echoed in ‘Silaï’ designed by Charlotte Lancelot for Gan’s Canevas Collection. Through a collaboration between Gan, a Spanish-based brand, and an Indian manufacturer, the products are handmade in India and thus get the name ‘Silaï’ which means ‘sewing’ or ‘stitch’ in Hindi. The rugs, furniture, cushion covers and plush throw pillows have the signature stitch in a variety of colours and combinations, evoking a mellow dance between muted tones and bright colours.
Each of these artists have a single medium in common but it is their interdisciplinary approach towards the cross-stitch that helps elevate it. It is easy to label a practice as an older person’s hobby, but takes real grit to reinvent and bring it back into the limelight as a craft that is, in fact, timeless.
Charlotte Lancelot, Silai Collection. Image Courtesy of the Artist. Image Credit: http://www.charlottelancelot.com/
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