Book Project Fast Work – Time Consuming landscape

Project fast work pauline nijenhuis
Cover booklet, copyright Pauline Nijenhuis, photo is base for the project art works

In 2017 mixed media artist Pauline Nijenhuis (Zutphen, The Netherlands) carried out the project ‘Fast Work, Time consuming Landscape’. In 2018 a booklet about this project was published. If you haven’t been able to see the project, this book is a perfect way to get a good impression of it.

The booklet has a clear classifications of chapters, each of it accompanied by photographs. In each chapter the topics “criteria, working process, designing process, production process and multi-media” are clarified.

1 project, 4 works of art

After the introduction by Pauline, the first chapter tells what the project is all about. Shortly Pauline states the following.

“Nowadays an ICT revolution is still going on. That has a great effect on our lives, jobs, prosperity and ourselves as human beings. Life is getting faster and faster. Intelligent machines and robots take on tasks, which previously could only be done by humans.  They do that with increasing speed, knowledge and power. What will be the consequence of this big acceleration?”

To find an answer to this question, the project is born. Pauline challenges herself making 4 arts works, each with an increasing shorter time limit in production. The art works are “painted textiles”, paintings with embroidery on it. She tried to make four similar textile paintings, every following painting had 15% less time available than at the previous one (so it’s 100%, 85%, 70% and 55% of time). Each painting had to be as optimal as possible and be salable.

4 works of art, 4 paintings, copyright Pauline Nijenhuis

Logbooks and photo’s

In the second chapter logbooks and photo’s of the 4 art works are shown. The logbooks give insight into the 5 leading research questions Pauline was working with:

  1. Does the amount of production time influence the working process?
  2. Does my way of working change due to increasing working pressure?
  3. What are the consequences of the acceleration on a visual level?
  4. What are the consequences of this acceleration on me as a visual artist?
  5. How do I perceive time at the four different time limits?

Installation of the work

The third chapter gives some background information about the installation of the work, exposed during the exhibition Space, Time and Architecture, in 2017 in Amsterdam. For example information about the way it was constructed and the choices made for the setting up of the installation.

Artwork results

In the fourth chapter the results of the produced art works (in this project) are shown.

result: 4 works with embroidery in it, copyright Pauline Nijenhuis

The artist gives her judgement of the four art works made by her. A leading question is: which work do I like the most? She also gives an insight to the answer of people who have seen her works. Both in real world and on Facebook and Instagram. You could conclude that tastes differ, depending on the background of visitors. For example artists and non-artists have different preferences.

Conclusions project

In the fifth chapter Pauline draws conclusions regarding the project as a whole. For one, she concluded it’s easier to deal with small time-cut’s than big ones. After downsizing time by 30%, the she got physically and mentally complaints due to stress. After a downsizing of 45% of the time, she worked sloppy, got recalcitrant and couldn’t make choices easily anymore.

To me, as a former career coach, this conclusions are very interesting. Lots of employers implement reduction of employees and decrease profit targets at the same time. When you transfer Pauline’s conclusion to the average working place…. I think you could say that time pressure of a certain amount,  has a negative impact on the employees and their health.

How great it would it be if this theme would be academically researched by psychology faculties of universities. To research this theme. And find out if stress is indeed above all an individual personal problem. Because that’s the current opinion about this topic in lots of organizations.

working process, copyright Pauline Nijenhuis


The sixth chapter of the booklet is a summary. Most important conclusion of Pauline is that her experience of time can change drastically, due to the pressure that’s existing in that moment of time. She also concludes that when she has to work in stress for a longer period of time, it’s a heavy burden and she can’t keep up with that.

Where to get it?

All in all I think this booklet is very interesting to read, especially for people who embroider or make art themselves. You can get the booklet via, It’s written in Dutch.

Erin Endicott’s Healing Sutras

Sutra 35, Erin Endicott, courtesy EE

It’s not just beautiful. It’s not just historical awareness. I’ts not just sublime craftsmanship. It’s all this.

Only last year I came upon the work Healing Sutras of Erin Endicott (USA), although she delivered it around 2010. The Sanskrit word Sutra means stitch: a thread or line that holds things together. The slow process of stitching becomes a kind of “rite of healing” to the artist.

Philosophy behind it

When I saw Erin’s work for the first time it immediately caught me.  It’s beauty thrilled me with wonder, along with the great philosophy that’s about it. Erin herself says she makes stuff that has real meaning behind it. The medium (embroidery, MM) is secondary to the message for her.

In her artist statement Erins says:

The “Healing Sutras” grew out of years of work examining psychological wounds, mainly my own. I was particularly intrigued by the concept of inherited wounds, specific patterns, behaviors, reactions, that we are born with. Already seeded into our psyche at birth. I imagined that the little ”seed” attracted negativity, until we end up with a dense area of negative energy built up in our physical bodies. By literally bringing these dark areas into the light, by making them visible, I want to heal these wounds.

detail Healing Sutras, Erin Endicott, courtesy EE

Her philosophy appeals to me. Being a coach / counselor I recognize that each of us has to deal with certain aspects in our lives, since we were children already. With specific characteristics in our “personality”. With influences and patterns of behavior connected to our family history. Lot’s of people aren’t aware of this mechanism and experience dissatisfaction in life. Start blaming others instead of facing and healing themselves. For me too making art is such a effective way to start healing. Erin shows that twice over.


Erin always felt the need to create, even as a young child. Being an artist was the only thing she wanted to be. She comes from a family with women who loved to sew. Who made things. Her grandmother was an artist too and encouraged her to take art lessons. So she did. She studied in Scotland and after that she got a BFA degree from Moore college of Art & Design in Philadelphia. Her inspiration is above all (solitude in) nature, as a child she grew up in the woods and near a lake.

Sutra 36, Erin Endicott, courtesy EE

Working process

Erin works with vintage fabrics, antique clothing and linen, passed down by the women in her family or given to her by strangers. The embroidery floss she uses is DMC number 321, she says it’s the truest red she could find.

Healing Sutra, Erin Endicott, courtesy EE

With walnut ink oil she stains slightly damp fabric. This creates a kind of a map, which tells where to put the embroidery marks. Ink on fabric has a mind of it’ s own, it takes the control away, does it’ s own thing. That was kind of a challenge for Erin, to trust and let go. What triggered her positively was watching the (ink) “wound” grow and take shape before her eyes.

Intuition and healing

Interesting is that Erin hasn’t got a traditional embroidery training, she just follows her intuition. Her hand follows where her hart wants to go. Something more people should do, as far as I ‘m concerned. Let your own creativity and instincts lead you. Instead of listen to what you are supposed to do.

For Erin her art is process-oriented work. Stitching is like drawing to her, but then much slower.


Almost ten years have passed. Erin has changed directions. She married and became Erin Daniels. Nowadays she runs designstudio Erin Daniels Art + Design, A New Jersey-based interior decorating firm. Her company also sells art, in which her “stitchy style” is still visible.

“Chinoiserie Chrysanthemum” in Peacock, Erin Endicott, copyright artist

Cultural Threads

Celio Braga Memory Unsettled
Memory Unsettled, Celio Braga, detail, 2016, photo

Textile Museum commisions new works

In 2018 the Textielmuseum at Tilburg (the Netherlands), asked four Dutch artists to develop new works in cooperation with their TextielLab. Leading inspiration for the museum was the book Cultural Threads by Jessica Hemmings (2014).

Some artists unraveled histories and searched for their own identities. Others adressed socio-political issues, like war and slavery.

Célio Braga

Some works of this exhibition were especially appealing to me. First of all the work of the Brazilian artist Célio Braga. His piece Memory Unsettled (2016) is kind of an installation and it incorporates a lot of (machine) embroidery.

It tells about the fragility of the body and refers to the AIDS crisis in the eighties. Célio combines old pieces of clothing with stuff that helps the body to stay healthy, like medicine baskets & soap. The embroidery contains 16th and 17th century Dutch and Brazilian symbols. And words from poems of Thom Gunn, which are related to the health problems in the eighties.

Celio Braga Memory Unsettled
Memory Unsettled, Célio Braga, 2016, photo
Memory Unsettled, detail, embroidered medicine bottle, photo

Eylem Aladogan

Another work that especially struck me, is the work Red Thread from Eylem Aladogan. She’s inspired by the Ottoman empire, she has a connection to that area because her father is a Kurdish-Turkish immigrant. Eylem made a (kind of) kaftan in different shades of red. The color red refers to blood, to emphasize the terror of lost life and loss in the empire. At the same time Eylem lets new life sprout, by golden branches, growing out of the kaftan. The pink background resembles the mountain landscape through which the refugees fled.

Red Thread, Eleym Alagodan, 2018, photo
refugees flee through mountains, photographer unknown

The branches look like embroidered yarn. In reality they are made of some kind of gel, hardened in a mold. For the mold embroidered threads were used to design it.

Red Thread, detail of kaftan, branches, photo

Jennifer Tee

Another artist exhibited, Jennifer Tee, having a half Chinese Indonesian background, shows three woven textile prints and three digital embroidered prints. They are inspired by Tampan and Papelai textiles of Indonesia, known as “ship clothes” for Europeans travelling from Indonesia to Europe.

These textiles in Indonesia originally were displayed and used at social ceremonies, like birth and death, marriages and circumcisions. Jennifer states that the act of traveling is a “physically and mentally important metaphorical binding thread”. Mirrored imagery plays a central role in her work. In Mirrored Ship the mirroring associates first with burial rights and with later stages in life which, suggest a sense of protection.

Jennifer Lee tampan mirrored shio
Tampan mirrored ship, Jennifer Lee, detail, photo
Tampan mirrored ship, Jennifer Lee, 2018, photo
embroidery, Folk Museum, Rethimnon, Crete, Greece, photo

Someway this work reminded me of a Cretan piece of embroidery I saw this year in the folk museum of Rhetymnon, Greece. The mirroring… the angels and lines… See above.

New sampler room

A new “attraction” of the museum is their sampler room, it opened recently. At the moment the room is filled with background information about this exhibition.To me this room only was worth coming! I have seen video’s about artist telling about their work and I have seen drawings and photos. But the nicest thing was the possibility to touch textile samplers and look at them closely. I felt like a child in a candy shop, what a lovely feeling.

Cultural Threads is still on until May 19, 2019. If you have the chance…. go there!

Book about mark making

Embroidery is … making marks. You never looked at it that way, did you?

Batsford publishing/Pavilion Books Company Ltd,

Covering the surface

When embroidering, in fact you’re covering the surface of textile with different stitches. Those become marks. Helen Parrott has written a book about this, Mark-making in Textile Art (2013).

In the book she shows how marks can be used making textile art, both simple and complex. She explores the crossover between stitch and drawing. Helen herself is often inspired by nature and landscape, for her they lead to a wide range of marks.

Stages of mark making

Helen talks about different stages of developing marks. She starts with the beginning of observing, collecting and recording marks. Then you think about making drawings or photographs of those. The next stage is making marks and prints on paper, inspired by the collected marks. With her tips about drawing techniques and materials, you can do that well.

Then there’s a chapter of information about hand- and machine stitched marks and lines. This is accompanied by a lot of very clear and helpful photographs of examples.

Finishing your work of art

After that attention is given to crossing the line from making nice samplers, to making a finished work of art. An issue I personally am regularly dealing with.

Helen states living a creative life can help you with that. Luckily she offers 7 strategies that will support you to accomplish that:

  1. take good care of yourself, mentally and physically.
  2. help yourself staying motivated, she gives some tips how to do that.
  3. use your time wisely
  4. make the most of your workspace
  5. become a member of artistic groups
  6. find out what helps you when you’re stuck
  7. plan days out to get inspired by other artist

Overall this is a useful and inspiring book, especially for people who want to make abstract embroidered works.

Embroidered necklace

embroidered necklace, antique lace, glass beads, Mique Menheere, 2015, photo

Some years ago I was shopping in the city of Nijmegen. By accident I came across an antique store. Normally that kind of shop doesn’t have my special interest. But somehow this time I decided to take a look. Quite quickly my eyes fell on a basket with antique textiles in it. Especially a lace collar caught my attention. All of a sudden I got the idea to make a necklace of it.

Monkey see monkey do. Once home again I started working out my thoughts. In the following weeks I embroidered small green glass beads on the lace, some patience was definitely needed! Around Christmas I finished it and could proudly wear it at the family dinner.

embroidered necklace with antique  lace, copper and glass beads
necklace from antique lace, copper, glass beads, Mique Menheere, 2016, photo