Artist Averil Stuart-Head uses vintage textiles, doilies and linens to create beautiful and intricate collage. Please visit her website to see more of her work.
An invitation to exhibit at the Florence Biennale in 2007 became the catalyst for me to take a giant leap of faith to move from New Zealand to Italy. I bought a house in the medieval village of Introdacqua. It marked the serious start of my journey into textile/fibre and mixed media art.
In the old wine cellar on the ground floor, I opened a small gallery and set up my studio. I had no idea where this art adventure was going to lead.
As an avid collector of stuff – ancient textiles, crocheted doilies, linens, and the like – I use a lot of these things in my artwork; however, as time goes on, I’m starting to pare down (a little), going from abstract towards realism.
Most of my works are in a series format, which allows me to slot whatever I’m working on into one of my five or six ongoing series.
Currently, my favourite series is “Capturing the Essence of Italy.” The question I ask myself is, “What is it about Italy that makes this country so fascinating, so charming, alluring, and just so darned livable?”
I’ve set out to capture some of my fondest memories and to try and convey to the viewer what it is that makes this country so appealing.
The techniques I use in most of the pieces featured here on Artsy Shark, are part of my six step formula. I like to layer up, so to speak. I start by painting the heavy cotton background with acrylic paint; from there, it’s a matter of placing the different fabrics in a sequence to tell the story.
I like to add vintage linens/textiles, painted doilies, silks, cheesecloth and other fabrics I have rusted and eco dyed. I may manipulate or rip and tear these to create texture and interest.
Then, it is a matter of stitching it all down onto another backing fabric to give it strength. Stitching methods vary. Generally, I’ll machine stitch most of my pieces, though some pieces I will hand stitch, using a mixture of distinct embroidery to fasten it all into a cohesive piece of art.
Some of the other series I’m working on are “West Coast (NZ) Rainforest,” “Decay and Decadence”, “Canterbury Plains” and “Christchurch Buildings Destroyed in Quake 2011.”
My journey of making art in Italy, belonging to International art groups and social media has been quite successful, with art pieces being chosen to be exhibited around Europe and the United States. My most victorious piece thus far has been “Fantasy Forest.”
Artist Averil Stuart-Head invites you to follow her on Facebook.