Embroidery Research Beginnings…

Lorina Bulwer: Razzall, L

Upon starting the project I was greatly inspired by work of Lorina Bulwer who was an ‘outsider artist’, part of the art brut movement. She was incarcerated in a ‘lunatic asylum’ and was extremely angry about this. In order to calm herself down and to express her thoughts she embroidered words into fabric. I love the chaotic nature as it represents her desperation.


Juliette Élisa Battle:Collection de l’Art Brut

This acted as a form of therapy for her which I feel is incredibly fascinating as art therapy is used today with people with mental health problems, and it is especially useful with children and adolescents. I then went on to look at other artists from the art brut movement that also use stitch. This led me to look at the work ofJuliette Élisa Battle  who was placed into a ‘mental asylum’ in Paris after struggling with mental health problems, after being badly beaten by her husband (Collection de l’Art Brut). Like Bulwer, Battle used stitch as a form of therapy however instead she embroidered brightly coloured houses instead of words. Its intriguing how both of these women used stitch as a way of coping with mental health problems and as a form of therapy. Whats interesting to me is that these are both women using stitch, and therefore their work tells a story from a woman’s perspective. I think that the ‘feminist perspective’ is exceptionally important and embroidery is a way in which it can be delivered.

Both of these women, you could say used stitch as a form of protest which I think is an amazing thing. They were so quietly protesting but when you look at Bulwer and Battle’s work you can see the anger and passion that has gone into it. An example of  a woman that is using stitch as a form of embroidery is Shannon Downey . She describes her political view “take a left and keep on going”(Wickman, K). She takes whats happening in current politics and puts down into an embroidered piece. I love the way in which she channels her anger. It is especially similar to Bulwer’s work. Downey’s is much more controlled but it stills conveys her anger at the current state of the work.

Shannon Downey: Wickman, K


Her piece that says ‘boys will be held accountable for their fucking actions’ is amazing. The simple yet strong nature of it is so inspiring to me. I love her play on the phrase ‘boys will be boys’ which has been used throughout time as an excuse for boys. From far away it looks quite sweet but when you actually read it you can understand the true meaning of the piece. I want to use the idea of making something quite aesthetic and pretty but that also has a much deeper meaning.

I have responded to this idea by making my own piece which uses imagery rather than works of snow white in the forest holding a gun. At first it looks really pretty when actually it has a much darker and deeper meaning. It links to the destruction of childhood innocence which snow white typically represents.

Snow White: Jasmine Newman

Snow White: Jasmine Newman


Collection de l’Art Brut. Art Brut. Available at: https://www.artbrut.ch/ [Accessed February 24, 2020].

Tammy Kim, E., 2018. Opinion. The New York Times. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/29/opinion/sunday/feminist-embroidery-korea.html [Accessed February 24, 2020].

Razzall, L., Centre for Material Texts » Blog Archive » Frayed. Available at: https://www.english.cam.ac.uk/cmt/?p=4042 [Accessed March 30, 2020].

Wickman, K., 2017. How Feminist Cross Stitching Became A Tool Of The Resistance. Bustle. Available at: https://www.bustle.com/p/how-feminist-cross-stitching-became-a-tool-of-the-resistance-2448280 [Accessed February 24, 2020].






(Shannon Downey)