CETG Online Talk on Monday 8th March 2021
Sue Nicholls - Landmarks
Sue should have been holding an exhibition at Watersmeet in Rickmansworth in April 2020 but, due to the Pandemic, this never took place. The title of the exhibition would have been Landmarks so Sue shared her photographs of the views that inspired her and also the finished embroidered pictures she produced.
Sue has had no formal training but just picked up a book on embroidery one day and decided to try it!
The dictionary definition of the noun landscape is “objects or features of landscape that are easily seen from a distance, especially ones that establish location.”
Sue particularly likes trees, both by themselves and ones which form a protective mass when together and she feels they have a character, like a group of people. She enjoys seeing the changes the seasons bring to a landscape and also the influence of man with plough lines etc. She is always looking for the lines, textures, patterns and shapes and never tries to produce a direct copy of the landscape. She wants to show how the view made her feel and often the final images are something she has put together in her head. She will remove elements and change proportions to get the image she wants.
She always starts with thumbnail sketches, usually in black and white and then moves onto larger sketches in pen and ink. Once she has a sketch she is happy with she will do samples in colour. Usually using Crayon d’Ache Neocolour watercolour crayons. For the final piece Sue often works on white wool felt which she gets from cloudcraft.co.uk. She usually works in a series and will make a few pencil marks on the felt as a guide and then machine stitches the images. Often these pieces are monochromatic.
In 2019 Sue was invited to exhibit at Gunby Hall, a National Trust property in Lincolnshire. For this she felt the work had to be more authentic as viewers would be able to see the pieces alongside the actual landscape. She produced two pieces approximately 60cm’s wide which each took about 40 hours to complete. It is very difficult to remove the machine stitching from the wool felt so she does lots of samples before committing to the final piece.
Sue was also pleased to exhibit these two pieces of Gunby Hall at the Society for Embroidered Work Exhibition in London in 2019.
Alongside these pieces Sue also looks at the details of plants and seed heads and the colours of grasses, cow parsley etc. For these she often works on Abaca tissue which she sources from georgeweil.com. She works directly onto this with Neocolour paint and then hand stitches using wool, silk and linen threads. This is a more mediative process than the machine embroidery. Recently Sue has also been hand stitching onto a thicker Denak paper which is handmade in the Himalayans.
She uses graphic lines and layers to give a painterly effect which build into larger pictures and also wearable art. Sue also works in acrylics on boards to produce miniature landscapes and occasionally produces Lino prints.
This was a great talk with beautiful work which all our members enjoyed.
For further information see her website at suenichollsdesigns.co.uk
Text © Michaela Matza CETG
Pictures © Sue Nicholls