Take a meandering journey through folkloric tales, interactive textiles and the tiniest embroidered trainers you ever did see, narrated by visual artist Stewart Easton. No stranger to sharing his love of symbolism through works in thread, ink, paint and digital, Stewart gained a fleet of would-be makers and appreciators after a host of workshops at creative powerhouses: the V&A and Cecil Sharp House. Join us as we take five with Stewart as he lets us in on the best soundtrack for free-hand stitching, sources of inspiration and plans for the future.
Hey Stewart, can you describe what you do in five words?
Sew, draw, paint, sew, draw.
How did your craft journey begin?
I started stitching in 2009 whilst studying for MA Illustration and Animation. My research was based around folk art - at the time I was most interested in Samplers. One of the modules of study required a number of experiments to sit within the field of research study. I tried embroidery. Totally fell in love with stitching.
From podcasts to playlists, what do you listen to whilst you're working?
I listen to both podcasts and records whilst stitching.
Podcasts - Ram Dass - Here and Now
Records - I used to listen to a lot of drone/ doom metal whilst stitching. Stuff like Sleep, Sunn 0))) and Earth. The slower and heavier the better.
Now I listen to more New Age/ ambient and cosmic Jazz.
Your work interweaves contemporary pastimes with traditional folk motifs, where do you draw your inspiration from and how easy is it to translate these ideas into tangible pieces of art?
Inspiration comes from so many places.
My interests are housed within cultural movements such as Folk / New Age / DIY (If these can be termed cultural) So I try to marry these three ideas into a single whole.
My ‘slow posters’ are a culmination of this exploration. Taken ten years, and no doubt these posters will develop into something bigger. It’s exciting to think this.
Quickfire round: slow mending or hand embroidery?
Which fellow creatives are you keeping an eye on?
On a craft/ thread vibe: Celia Pym, Richard Mcvetis, Donna Wilson. But its painters and sculptors whom I’m mostly following at present.
Favourite piece you've ever made?
Each new piece is always a favourite until the next. I’m super happy with the slow posters as they are a culmination of a hefty development. Though I recently stitched a large scale piece title “ We like folk…so what…destroy us…” I’m very happy with this piece.
... and your proudest moment?
Oh man that’s tough……. I’ve done quite a few things. My sound embroideries make me pretty proud. They have been at Tate Modern for events a couple of times and the V&A. I’ll be most proud when they are there for complete exhibitions. Always want more!
What impact does being creative have on your life and general well being?
It feeds into everything. Mostly positive. It gives me the drive to better myself and push onwards. On the negative, it keeps me awake at night - trying to figure out how to do things.
Finally, what are your plans for 2020?
Oh, man! 2020 is gonna be great. I’ve been teaching embroidery/ consciousness and abstract courses. I would like to develop these into a weeklong retreat. The classes work great but I feel to achieve the full effects in working in the manner you need to dedicate a period of time…..
I’ve also been making some large-scale hand embroidery / appliqué pieces which I will hopefully have completed to show…..
Here goes for a great 2020!
We can’t wait to see it! Discover Stewart’s portfolio here, find him on Instagram and peace out on over to his shop for a covetable selection of slow posters and prints. Inspired? Don your thimble and join Stewart at our good friend’s Ray Stitch for an ‘Embroidery As An Abstract’ Workshop; exploring the connection between hand embroidery, abstraction, and conscious awareness, whilst creating your very own design. See you there!