As part of Thread 2019, the Riverside Café Gallery is looking forward to welcoming textile fibre artist Rebecca Bruton as she brings her exhibition Nature in Stitch to the Maltings later this month. Before the exhibition opens on May 25th, we spoke to Rebecca to find out more about her and her love of thread.
What are you working on at the moment and where do you find ideas for your work?
I am always inspired by nature, the wonders of it and its aesthetics, as well as its fragility and our relationship with it. I have just completed my collection of 8 green plant textile artworks but plan to add to this collection later in 2019. I am really excited, as I am about to begin brand new collection that celebrates the beauty of British birds.
What medium do you use in your practice and why?
I am a textile artist, I love working with fabrics and threads as it’s a truly analogue and tactile way of working. I strive to elevate what is seen as a traditional craft medium into an art format. I make my artwork using applique and free motion embroidery. I always use vintage fabric in my artwork as I inherited my nan’s collection of textiles and have added to this over the years. I think there is something magical about fabrics that already have a story, plus the prints of bygone eras are the most beautiful colours and patterns to me.
What motivates you to make work, who do you believe has influenced your career and inspired you to start?
My nan was a huge influence on me growing up. I distinctly remember she had a large wooden chest that was to me a treasure trove of fabrics and haberdashery, items of such beauty and wonder. I can even remember the distinctive smell when the box lid was opened, it was just magical. I still feel that way when I find a beautiful vintage print. My nan and my mum both made clothes but I developed a love of art, alongside a passion for fabric, rather than dressmaking. I had some wonderful textile teachers and when I became a textile teacher myself I had the honour of working alongside some great lecturers so I have been influenced throughout my whole life by brilliant textile practitioners. My biggest motivator now is my daughter, I want to create art in the hope of one day making this my full time job and showing her that it is possible to follow your dreams and your passion. I hope to inspire her just like my nan and my mum inspired me.
If you could name one, what is your favourite piece of work you have created, and why?
I am going to cheat and say two pieces but they are linked. I have stitched two iconic landscapes the first is Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol and the second is Weston-Super-Mare Pier, both in my home county of Somerset. These are my favourites not just because I was pleased with the look of the finished artworks but because I made both of these for incredibly deserving families that I donated them to as part of BBC One’s DIYSOS The Big Build. I spent hours and hours on these landscapes and put my heart and soul into them and giving them away and being part of the whole experience was one of the greatest feeling I have experienced, it truly was a total honour.
What would you say is your proudest achievement so far?
Without doubt being awarded the Emerging Artist of 2018 by Somerset Art Works, which led to having an exhibition at ACEarts gallery in Somerton as part of the Somerset Art Weeks Festival. Since then I have gone on to exhibit across the UK including at The Contemporary Textiles Fair in London. I have also had my work shared in several publications now but I still think that gaining that title is my proudest moment and was the starting point of this journey for me, in earnest.
What is the most indispensable item in your studio?
Well it is of course my sewing machine! I could not be without it and I am a Bernina girl through and through. Having said that I could not do without my teeny tiny embroidery scissors too, all 20 odd pairs of them I have strewn around my studio; and still then I can never find a pair when I need them!
Finally, where would you say is your favourite place to see art?
Absolutely everywhere. I love going to a gallery and making a day of going to take in an artists work but equally I love the delight of being surprised by finding art in alternative locations. Public art is always engaging and can captivate the whole family. Stumbling across a local artist that is a new discovery to me in a small shop of café is equally enthralling. I am passionate about all art in all forms and enjoy it wherever it is presented.
Nature In Stitch can be seen in the Riverside Café Gallery from 25 May – 20 June, with work available to purchase via the Box Office.
thread… a festival of textiles is taking place on Saturday 08 June. For tickets to the festival or the programme of bookable workshops click here.
For more about the festival, the full exhibitor listing and activities, check out the thread pages here.