Portraits without Faces

During 2019, I travelled to West Bengal. I visited artists, often in remote villages, working in their studios. My interest was in researching Indian textiles, specifically Kantha embroidery, which is synonymous with this region. 

Although there is a wealth of traditional textiles produced in India, my thoughts focused on the lives of the artists. Many of whom work long hours, tirelessly investing their skills, for little financial reward.

On my return, I revisited drawings I had created prior to my trip consisting of multiple figure studies. I began to embellish the surface, emulating labour and repetition through intensive periods of stitching.

As the pieces evolved, the stitches gradually accumulated. I frequently worked on the reverse side of the work, unaware of the image evolving. The image almost became irrelevant, and the process of repetitive stitching, became the focus of the work.

I addition, I reflected on how the ritual of hand stitching can document emotional experiences. The intimacy of the medium itself, with the suggestion of repetitive touch, lends a poignancy to bodily associations, providing an intimate and ambiguous trace of the artist’s presence.

Making hand stitched textiles can be therapeutic, a crucial tool for reflection and developing self-awareness. Working on slow, reflective projects has allowed a better understanding of the connection between the self and the desire to make art. 

The work marks time, and chronicles emotional changes through the physical and reflective act of stitch. The work aims to convey the concept of transformation in life, the importance of reflection, and the exploration of creativity as part of artistic identity.”