Artist research – Lindsay Taylor

Lindsay Taylor is a textile artist who was a former wedding dress maker and her works have a romantic quality that ties in with one of  my theme boards for Assignment 3 and 4.  I first came across the almost sculptural textile shoes and blooms a few years ago in a quilting magazine and today I have had the absolute privilege of speaking to Ms Taylor directly in order to gain her permission to share photographs of her work plus a direct insight into her working practices.

Ms Taylor is meticulous about her working processes ranging from the hand-dyed fabrics, to the quilting, the felting and the embroidery whether free motion or by hand and this alone is inspirational as every small element is paid attention to – this attention to detail is something I really need to take note of and  pay more attention to having neglected a design element in my samples for Assignment 5.

Lindsay Taylor. Sospiri gown. Commissioned by the Smythson for exhibition to commemorate the wedding of HRH Prince William and Katherine Middleton. Individually stitched silk organza leaves stitched in place and dyed in a colour gradient.

I have recently purchased Ms Taylor’s book Embroidered Art and suffice to say it has been read cover to cover and discovered that her background is similar to my own – we both learnt to sew in our early childhood but both speaking to her and reading her book it is clear the creative juices and imagination flowed more freely with Ms Taylor.  My background was very much in embroidery and dressmaking but done hesitantly although enjoyably whilst Ms Taylor it seems was someone who designed clothes for her sister’s doll and outfits for herself before experimenting in a what appears to be the whole catalogue of textile genres!  After a number of years of creativity finding its way into her life she began making the aforementioned wedding dresses before embarking on an embroidery course which occupied her life for the next four years and  resulted  firstly in beautifully detailed wedding gowns, then in delicately detailed bags and scarves in a combination of embroidery and her own devore silk velvet or fabric, thread and beads and eventually in the work she does today – exquisitely made free-motioned stitched sculptural pieces with the first  often having a floral theme .

Ms Taylor is inspired by the forests that surround her Isle of Wight home and apparently she often brings home twigs or leaves which inspire further works.  For the past 8 years or so she has predominently creating art works for museums and galleries and she is developing her use of digital media further in order to reproduce images of her work onto a variety of surfaces.  Speaking to Ms Taylor directly today I learnt that she rarely uses sketchbooks and works primarily with a process-led approach – this has always been her methods of working since her embroidery course despite it seems the teacher’s best efforts to get her students to work with sketchbooks and make notes (I can recognise myself here particularly in recent weeks where my sketchbooks have been secondary to experimentation).  I was very interested to hear that Ms Taylor makes extensive use of Google images so that she can enlarge and zoom in on details to be able to take note of lines, textures and colours as she requires it and this is part of her working processes – I found myself quietly giving myself permission to do likewise!

Lindsay Taylor. Tea cup and saucer. 2009. 10 x 7 cm

One of my favourite pieces of Ms Taylor’s work is this tea cup and saucer which was one of her early stitched ‘sculptures’ – it appears to be a combination  of free motion embroidery worked with her favourite water soluable fleece and felting but I am unsure as to how she has produced the stamens (in her book she mentions 3 different methods including twisted cotton, craft wire or machine stitching).  Ms Taylor has managed to reproduce the shape of the bloom and leaf whilst creating a sculptural delicate object to be desired in all its extravagant simplicity if that makes sense?  the design is deceptively simple but the result is one of extravagance to have on view in a location where its detail can be perfectly highlighted.

Lindsay Taylor. Textile Soup. 2013. 96 x 72 x 17 cm

An entirely different piece of work that is reflective of my Beauty in Decay theme is one titled Plastic Soup – it is a picture of a albatross chick created through the use of found plastics and other items that Ms Taylor picked up on a local beach and was part of a series of 4 pieces on display at the Saatchi Gallery, Collect 2013.  The series was titled Endangered and this particular piece was based on a photograph in a Sunday newspaper supplement of the sad plight of an albatross chick. The parents think plastic is food and feed it to their chicks who cannot either digest or regurgitate the plastic and so hence die. The piece certainly tells of the nature of our throw away society and how it affects our wildlife in a very direct manner.  I like the variety of plastic textures that are used to create the feathers particularly as they are combined with embroidered feathers – the chick’s fate can be clearly seen and the message is blatant and harsh and one that cannot be ignored by the viewer.

Lindsay Taylor. Crocus bag. 2010. 14 x 7 cm. Fabric, thread, wire and beads.

I am not a shoe collector but I do love hand-made bags and this little crocus bag is absolutely adorable ….. I could happily gush over this all day which I know is not artistic in any way!!  Apparently it was made in the middle of winter when nothing was flowering but a photograph of a crocus caught Ms Taylor’s eye and inspired the creation. Ms Taylor explains in her book that she likes to put a flower on the strap of her bags for added interest and used bronze wire for the stamens whilst silk fabric was used as a base for all the stitch work.  I find the addition of the flower on the straps of the bags adds a further delightful feminity to bags that are unashamedly feminine already – it adds that touch of interest and attention to detail that makes Ms Taylor’s work really stand out for what it is and that of a highly skilled and talented artist.

Reading through Ms Taylor’s book I make note of the fact she mainly uses natural fabrics with the occasional use of synthetics as they burn easily (at this point I am immediately reminded of the work of Wendy Moyer) and the fact that synthetics when subject to heat crumple and distort or form holes and also the fact they start to decay or disintegrate ….. I can almost hear my mind working overtime as I think of what synthetic fabrics I own for playtime on a dry day!! Ms Taylor usually dyes her own fabrics to be able to obtain the exactly colour she requires and this also goes for the Merino wool tops she uses for any felting that she wishes to add.  Threads are obviously a major part in all the work that is done and there is no preference for the brand although metallic threads are required to be good quality and therefore likely to be more expensive than many of the threads used throughout the work.

As I write I am thinking of the conversation today whilst also perusing again Ms Taylor’s book – she admits in the book that books are a weakness and a valuable source of information but this is now combined with the above mentioned Google images.  Due to the lack of sketches done prior to starting work a variety of images are vital to the working process – I can certainly understand this without having to ask questions having worked primarily from photographs and images in my final assignment of this course. What I do find intriguing and again now makes sense is that Ms Taylor’s work usually evolves as she works on a particular piece with problems being resolved as it progresses – this process-led design process is something I feel will be part of my own practice and during the conversation today Ms Taylor really encouraged me to continuously experiment and play with my samples and work in order both to obtain a good outcome and new experimental outcomes but also in developing my personal voice but she did say would take time …. at the stage I am I want to have my personal voice and style but understand I am still at the beginning of my textile journey.  I find Ms Taylor’s work is instantly recognisable and her style is very strong in that it is delicately exquisite no matter whether the piece is small and intricate or much larger and bolder.  I was able to ask Ms Taylor what now seems like an obvious question – that of whether her style and personal voice was still evolving? the answer was very much yes as she moves on from working with one particular subject or interest to another …. those floral pieces it seems have been replaced by working on a pheasant which I am looking forward to seeing on Instagram!

Lindsay Taylor. Bluebell bag. 20 x 8 cm.

As I read through the book again I note that some of the work the threads are very contained and almost organised so the effect is one of smoothness although still textural whilst some pieces the threads seem to be trying to escape slightly as can be seen in this bluebell bag – the texture and effect created is soft and fresh and hence very reminiscent of spring.

I find it hard to express currently how much it meant speaking to Ms Taylor today – it really was an absolute privilege and it gave me a real insight into her working practice as well as great encouragement with my own studies and working practice.  I am intrigued and excited by the work Ms Taylor does as the fact she is process-led is encouraging met to explore this working methodology more in my own studies whilst also preserving with my sketchbook work.  I certainly want to explore working with free-machine embroidery and water soluble fleece considerable more and see where it takes me and how I can use it in my own preferred mixed media approach.

I am starting to really investigate more textile artists and appreciate the different working methods and there is no doubt that investigating, reading and now speaking to Ms Taylor I feel has really made me think about how I want to go forward and it has also seriously inspired me ….. that book will be read again cover to cover very very happily!

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Taylor, L. 2015-2017.  Lindsay Taylor [online].  [Date accessed:  July 2017].  Available from:  http://www.lindsay-taylor.co.uk/index.php

Taylor, L. 2013.  Lindsay Taylor Embroidered Art.  Tunbridge Wells, Kent.  Search Press Limited

Taylor, L. 2013.  Lindsay Taylor Embroiderer [online].  [Date accessed:  August 2017].  Available from:  http://lindsaytaylorembroiderer.blogspot.co.uk/2013/

TextileArtist.org.  2016.  Floral textile artists – textile artists inspired by flowers [online].  [Date accessed:  July 2017].  Available from:  http://www.textileartist.org/textile-artists-inspired-by-flowers/

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