Sue Stone, the woman with a fish

Self portrait 63, Sue Stone, 2015, courtesy Sue Stone, http://womanwithafish.com

When I saw this image in a magazine, it immediately struck me. So clear, so “real-life”, so contemporary… Wow. It made me clear that embroidery has taken a whole new path. That prejudices of being old-fashioned and for “fossil”‘ grannies only, have gone down, down, down … Sue Stone herself describes her work as “living in the limbo between the angst of fine art and the therapy of making” (see: http://www.textileartist.org/sue-stone). Me myself I believe it’s embroidered art. No need for modesty. Judge for yourself when you have seen her work in this article…

Her background

After having studied Fashion Design and Textiles/Embroidery in London Sue went into business and made a living from designing womenswear for 28 years.
When she was 50 she started stitching again. The funny thing is that Sue always knew she would return to stitching.
And how she did… She became chairman of Group 62 of Textile Artists in the UK, in December 2018 she stepped down from that role. At the moment she also teaches, exhibits and gives lectures all over the world.

Sue uses hand and machine embroidery as a means of mark making. Special about her work is the limited use of sorts of stitches and the conscious use of simple stitches, like for example the running stitch. Main theme in her work is identity, family and community, she goes back to her past for that.

Portraits of all kinds

Lots of portraits she makes. For example of women in Grimsby, her home town as a child. In 2007 she made a portrait of her grandmother holding a fish in her hands. Fish was an important source of income for her family, her father was a fish merchant for about 30 years.The women in her family were creative, her mother was a tailor.

The portrait you see at the top of this article is a self portrait, part of serie 63. In this series she made a self-portrait of each year of her life.

To me the beauty of her portraits is characterized by simplicity, both a stitch, “drawing” and background.

Later on her style became slightly different. This work from 2012 for example has a much more crowded background.

Some things never change, 2012, Courtesy of Sue Stone
http://womanwithafish.com

Identity and categories

In 2017 she made a beautiful serie about identity. Meaningful also, seen the turbulence in the world at that time. It’s called “This is me”, it’s inspired by the humankind’s urge to categorize. In each image the way the inner soul of the person that’s portrayed remains the same… It’s Sue Stone.

This is me 2, 2017, courtesy of Sue Stone
http://womanwithafish.com
This is me 11, 2017, courtesy by Sue Stone
http://womanwithafish.com
This is me 5, 2017, courtesy by Sue Stone
http://womanwithafish.com

Her latest work is inspired by a visit to Greenpoint, Brooklyn (USA). The emphasis in this piece shifts slightly away from people towards place and time of period. Also the design process is slightly different. She uses more applique and moved away from control.

From Grimsbey to Greenpoint & Beyond, 2018, photo by Yeshen Venema, courtesy of Sue Stone, http://womanwithafish.com

I’m very curious what the future will bring for Sue’s work. In the meantime I participate in her online-course “Texture and Pattern”, a real delight!

Some tips

For who wants to read more about her work and the making process… Sue has written a book about her work, “Do you remember me”.

At the moment she exhibits with Group 62, Ctrl/Shift exhibition at the National Centre for Craft & Design in Sleafort, Lincolnshire, from 2 February till 22 April 2019. For more information see https://nccd.org.uk/ctrl-shift.

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