If you’re a person who is reading this after reading my 2019 tales of Japan, you may be hoping for more stories from my year of living there, or at the very least, and explanation of what happened and where I am now. Being a generous person, I will give you some crumbs from the rich fruitcake of my life.
My travels around Japan saw me settling and working in: a small village near Shimoda, Izu; the Kochi countryside; Kochi City; and finally Kyoto; with trips to Fukuoka and Beppu, and a whirlwind family jaunt across Hiroshima, Okayama, Himeji, and Kobe, plus a few ping backs to Tokyo. In Kyoto I found myself working for 6 weeks for a travel firm specialising in luxury tours for the 1%, and felt like I myself had won the jackpot (a living wage job in a major city with visa sponsorship!). Then my visa renewal/changeover got delayed by the pandemic. So I came back to the UK and worked on my friend’s small farm, throwing myself into filling a polytunnel with produce. Until the email came with the inevitable “Due to COVID, our company has decided to go on an indefinite hiatus. As such we no longer have a position available for you.”
Wrecked didn’t really cover it. I finally thought I was getting back on my feet as a real adult- it has been literally years since I worked a stable full time job, and never with a truly living wage. I made the decision to move back to my parents’ place for winter; where they had kindly stored all of my fabric hoard. It was time to get back to making things.
And so that’s what I’ve been doing. This is a round up of some of the pieces I have been making since returning to my sewing machine in October.
HUMANS NEED ART– the background fabric has been experimentally dyed and painted, but not by me. I rescued it from the bin at art school in 2013.
Made in response to comments from the Tory government, specifically the chancellor, who suggested that it was time for artists to retrain rather than sit around expecting the government to safeguard any culture.
KIDS THESE DAYS JUST WANNA CRY AND FIGHT GOD– applique letters on white bars provide striking contrast against the almost art nouveau West African wax print cotton. It’s a really powerful piece and one of my favourites so far.
Motto reflects the immense pride I feel for all the young people out there challenging the unjust systems all around them.
PERFECTION IS FOR CHUMPS– leopard print fleece letters on a turquoise silk background, garnished with Greek key stitching, mirror embroidery trim, and handmade gold tassels. I wanted a gaudy lux feel.
An ode to my hatred of perfectionism, which has left us with generations of neurotic people, weak crops, and dogs that can’t breathe. Embrace chaotic wabi-sabi instead. Done and good enough is better than unfinished perfection.
POWER TO THE PROLES– the background came from a crazy tablecloth I found years ago in a charity shop. Combined with golden yellow velvet, also rescued from the bins at art school.
Made with the people who make the world go round in mind, this one is for all the proles, who have suffered disproportionately under COVID.
FRIDA WAS A COMMIE [sold]- My first finished project encompassing machine embroidery; a portrait of Frida Kahlo with heat transfer foil jewellery, applique flowers, and draped shawl.
My response to the horrible commodification of Kahlo, who has been reduced to a whitewashed feminist unibrow, ignoring all of her political views and the core of her art, which is impossible to divorce from her status as a disabled Mexican woman.
SKULL AND GHOST PATCHES– Made from reclaimed fabric and designed to be added to a bag, backpack, cushion, or jacket; these sweeties are part of my exploration of cute contemporary style.
SOMETIMES YOU’RE THE ROCK, SOMETIMES YOU’RE THE RIVER [sold]- Navy blue cotton with applique rock and sashiko-style stitching for water flow.
A zen sentiment about knowing when to hold yourself steady and when to be flexible and go with the flow. I love this aesthetic and hope to incorporate this style of stitching into more work in the future.
RISE TOGETHER- powder blue cotton poplin with applique cat paws in tie dye cotton, velvet, wool tweed, and fleece. The paw pads are a silky satin.
The struggle needs cats of all coats and colours. Black, white, brown, Sphynx, Bengal; we rise together.
This has been the November 2020 art round up. If you use Etsy, please favourite my store to stay informed of when new pieces come on the market. I am also available for commissions, please get in touch if you would like to discuss a custom piece.