Monday, 26 September 2011


Sometimes I feel I am continually running up against a brick wall. Why oh why in this day and age is there such a demarcation between what people perceive as art and what they perceive as craft. I have had a couple of instances lately where when I say I am a textile artist people just look confused. If I say I produce work using fibre and stitch they ask if I make dresses or curtains, If I mention embroidery you can see their mind thinking cross stitch and their mouths saying 'isn't that rather old fashioned' and if I say I am an artist they immediately say -'oh do you use oils or watercolours?'
Its enough to drive someone insane! I even gave up the other day when at a bank filling in a form and they asked my occupation and when I told them they said 'I haven't got a box for that' so I ended up saying 'just tick the home maker one'. But I didn't want to- I've worked hard for my skill I would like it acknowledged.
I read an excellent article the other day by James hunting about the importance of achieving a balance between technique and concept- that they were both of equal and extreme importance and I so agree.Great 'Art', however conceptual, needs a grounding with good technique and all good 'Craft' stems from the ability to perfectly master a technique and combine it with a true concept. I wish we were still using the term artist craftsman it says so much more.
But how do we educate people - even those who are supposed to be part of this rather incestuous art world, to value textile art. There is a huge amount of unrecognized talent and creativity out there -Just in the last couple of days look at the blogs of people such as Brunel Broiderers and Judy Martin for inspiration, but do such as they ever appear 'in the nationals'
I suppose you could say its all about the creation not the recognition which is very true but we make work to be shared which usually involves exhibiting it and when the amount of affordable visual art spaces and galleries are getting fewer and fewer and the value of textiles still seems so underrated we desperately need a swing in opinion just to bring work to people who haven't experienced exactly what textile art is really about.
I don't know perhaps its just in my area-is it the same everywhere? the only thing I can do at the moment is go ARGHH!!!!!


Heather said...

It's the same everywhere, sadly. I get similar responses when mentioning embroidery. The majority of people immediately visualise cross stitch. Maybe every group of female textile artists should try to recruit a male! I wonder if that would make any difference? I do sympathise with you and all the others who have worked so hard for a prestigious qualification, only to still find that there is little or no recognition. Don't despair, or give up - one day we'll educate the ignorant!

Beverley said...

I've recently had it said to me from two separate people "we don't know how to display your work, you are so difficult" errrm same as a painter/photographer its ready to hang on the wall, what's so hard about that? I do use the phrase Wall Art as that seems more readily understood as to where it goes or the purpose of, rather than saying an Embroidery, Panel or a Hanging.
After much thought, and many variations - I decided upon Mixed Media Artist. It seems to open more doors than Textile Artist and its not a lie... as we use, paints, dyes, wood, metal, wire, burning, distressing etc - not just fibre of any description. And to embroider really means to add surface embellishment.
This fight has been going on a long time... add into the mix the perceptions of 'art' versus 'craft' and I certainly need to lay down!!

Proctor&Cruz Designs said...

Thank you for posting your article, we found it very interesting and very true! We are surface textiles Graduated specializing in embroidery and we found the same response from most people we tell what we do. Even tutors from the same organization but different faculty didn't take our subject seriously, making rather weird sounds when we had to take extra pattern cutting lessons, saying all we do is make samples all day! ha, if only it was that easy!

But its so inspiring to read about people like you, as it makes us want to work hard and prove people that embroidery is still very much an art form and shouldn't be taken lightly or as a joke!
Lovely blog!!

Please check out our blog too if you have a minute, Love, P&C

Judy Martin said...


I recognize myself in these words. I too have had the same feelings and frustrations - and still do occasionally.

Last year, or maybe the year before, I mostly just stopped worrying about it. I took the word textile or fibre or anything out of my title - and now just tick the word artist.

Never apologize. Never explain. Those words go through my head often when I feel self doubt creeping in.

I want you to go back to that bank and tick the box that says artist.

Carry on. And thanks for the nod to my blog in your text. That was a beautiful surprise.

stitching and opinions said...

We are Artists. Painters don't say I am a Paint artist.