I am an artist from Birmingham, United Kingdom. I work in various media; mainly textiles (specialising in embroidery), watercolour and ink pen, digital illustration using Procreate and mosaic. This site is about my art work and my main inspiration; the beauty of nature and all its mysteries.
I always knew I wanted to be an artist ever since I was little... it must have been all that obsessive drawing of patterns with compasses and colouring them in with felt tips pens and excessive doodling on any notepad within reach. When I was 5 years old my mother gave me a needlework set: scissors, thimble and needle-case. Since then I have been passionate about colour, pattern, design and textiles especially embroidery. I usually start off painting on blank fabric, often silk...I love the feel of the brush swishing across the fabric. I then embroider onto the silk and develop the images, layering fabrics and painting, embroidering, sequinning and appliquéing until something magical appears.
Embroidery is such a flexible medium to work in... I enjoy using free machine embroidery and more controlled digitized computerized embroidery as well as the slow therapeutic way of hand-stitching. It's very exciting to combine them together to get the best of every world. My desire is that people enjoy and cherish my works for their joyous, inspiring, life-affirming qualities. I hope my work touches your heart as it has touched mine and brings to you the feeling of those wondrous things that cannot be described with words.
What Inspires Me
The imagery I use is inspired by nature; the secret lives of trees, birds, and animals that we can only guess at, ancient stories and symbols, poetry and prose. My travels in Bulgaria and Romania and more recently Morocco. Folk Art; especially costumes, wood carvings and folk paintings. In short, things of beauty, mystery and delight.
Nature: floaty umbel heads of creamy Queen Anne’s Lace, birdsong, birds in general especially finches and magpies, ooh and I love peacock feathers, the rain (yeah, I’m British, got to make the most of it!), shells, fish, coral, dragonflies and butterflies, pretty pebbles, found trinkets, beads.
Fave Artists: Gustav Klimt, Hunderwasser, Paul Klee, Charley Harper, Susan Seddon Boulet, Tanya Kugai, Yuri Vasnetsov, anything Russian, eastern european children’s book illustrators whose names I can’t pronounce.
Fave Textile Artists: Hmmmmm hard to choose! I admire the work of many people.
Fave Ethnic Textiles: those of nomads; the Qashqai of Iran, the Sami gypsies of Pakistan, the Banjara gypsies of India. Anything from Central Asia, especially suzani and printed Russian textiles. As well as eastern European folk costume and interior textiles because of their hardcore hand-stitching, amazing colour combos and just general gorgeousness. Particularly Bulgarian, Romanian, Hungarian, Polish and Russian embroidery, weaving and lace for their intensity and complexity.
General Info About Me
Nicky has been working as a freelance textile artist since 1988 when she graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom with a BA(hons) degree in embroidery. She has completed many private commissions, designed greeting cards for Decorum and Paper Rose, and exhibited and sold work in numerous shows. In addition to the United Kingdom Nicky has sold work to customers as far apart as Canada, Qatar and Australia. She has also worked in the bridal-wear manufacturing and commercial embroidery industries, lectured in textiles at North East Worcestershire College and held private workshops in silk painting and embroidery.
- I was born in 1966 in Gloucester, UK.
- I studied at Bournville School of Art, Birmingham where I did a Foundation Course in Art and Design in 1984.
- I obtained a BA(Honours) Degree in Textiles and Fashion – Chief Study Embroidery at Manchester Polytechnic (Now renamed Manchester Metropolitan University) – I graduated in 1988.
- silk, velvet, felt and tweed and some printed fabrics
- acrylic inks and paintmarkers for painting
- acrylic paint dilutant
- metallic gutta
- printing foils
- threads of rayon, cottons, silk, wool
- for watercolour painting I use Daniel Smith Watercolour paints
- Mars Lumograph Black pencils
- various watercolour papers
- Painting on base fabric with acrylic ink. I use normal paintbrushes, toothbrushes for spattering and ink rollers.
- Machine stitching – I do free motion embroidery and use pre-programmed stitching patterns to create marks.
- I am also experimenting with my own digitized embroidery designs to mix in with the other stitching.
- Hand stitching – I do lots of hand stitching on some pieces, my favourite stitches are feather, chain, seeding, couching, buttonhole cartwheels amongst others.
- Appliqué – I add scraps of other fabrics onto the base fabric; usually silk, some organza, velvet or whatever seems right at the time.
- Embellishing with sequins. I sometimes melt the sequins to distort their shapes. I also layer them to create different shapes and colour combinations.
- Foiling – I add sections of printing foil to the textured surface of my stitches using bondaweb.
- I stretch out my textile work while it is wet to make it as flat as possible – a process called “blocking out”.
- It is then stretched over a deep box canvas and secured with stainless steel staples at the back. The rough edges are then covered with with bonded felt to make a neat finish then attach metal D rings and picture cord to the back so the work is ready to hang on the wall.
- I have a Husqvarna Viking embroidery machines: a Designer 1.
- I use wooden frames and aluminium push pins for stretching fabric to paint on.
- I have a large noticeboard on one wall which I use as a “design board” – it helps me to see what I need to do to the work when I can see it pinned up from a distance.
- I use a lot of tracing paper and spray tack to move shapes around during the design process.
- Other equipment I use are an Ipad and Procreate for digital art and a Taurus Ringsaw for cutting mosaic materials.
Previous Exhibitions and Stockists
- Alpha House gallery, Dorset
- Art for Living, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
- Artifex, Mitchell Centre for Art and Craft, nr Sutton Coldfield
- Botanical Gardens, Birmingham
- Christmas Exhibition, Possi Gallery
- Common Threads, LCB Depot, Leicester, Leicestershire with Midlands Textile Forum
- Connoisseur Gallery, Bourton on the Water
- Craftworks Exhibition, Leamington Spa City Gallery
- Crafty Tales exhibition, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum, Rugby
- Ginger Gallery, Bristol
- Highbury Theatre Centre, Boldmere, West Midlands
- Jinney Ring Craft Centre, Hanbury, Worcs
- Kingfisher Gallery, Spon Street, Coventry
- Liberty of London
- Malvern and Droitwich Libraries, Worcs (as part of Midlands Textile Forum exhibition)
- New British Craft (touring exhibition)
- Summer Collection, Obsidian Art, Buckinghamshire
- The Warwick Gallery, Warks
- Open Exhibition, Midlands Art Centre
- Friends Exibition, Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, Birmingham
- Vicki Norman Studio Gallery, Shropshire
- Yule Fayre at Makers Dozen, Wolverhampton Art Gallery