73 cm x 62 cm
Stitch, fabric and resin
Lara Hailey has a diverse portfolio often using traditional textile methods in an unexpected way. Based in the UK her work is part of both public and private collections and due to her broad range of techniques, including stitch, resin and print, there are always new and exciting things to come.
What is your background in textiles?
I studied at Bath Spa and did a joint degree in fine art and textiles. This gave me a fantastic grounding in a broad range of techniques including, painting, sculpture, printing, stitching and constructed textiles. Here and at Goldsmiths I was able to really explore using textiles within a fine art context. I specialized in sculpture and stitch and made site-specific installations. I really enjoyed my time studying and made the most of being able to experiment with and combine a range of media and techniques.
What was your path after Goldsmiths?
After Goldsmiths I got a Princes Trust grant to set up my own business making hand made felt accessories. My work was stocked in a number of boutiques and I did craft fairs like Origin. After doing a teaching qualification and getting a part time teaching job I decided to give up the accessory business and concentrate on making artworks.
What is about textiles that appeals to you?
I just love textile, I love the feel of cloth against the skin, I love the different textures and surfaces, I love the way it’s protective, comforting, and sensual. I love the way it can be utilitarian, exotic.
How do you describe your work and style?
I don’t think I have a particular style and I don’t think I fit in to a particular genre, but my work usually involves some kind of textile process. I like to work with textile in an unconventional way combining it with different material and process. Sometimes I like to employ traditional textile techniques but use them in a subversive way, often incorporating text.
You’re very diverse with your skills, how do you decide what medium to use? Does the subject determine the medium or do you choose the medium and then decide the subject?
Both. The resin pieces in particular are concerned with the medium and process. Making these pieces is time consuming, as there are many different stages involved in creating them. There are lots of variables which means that I am constantly learning about the materials. I find this exciting and work with an image to explore the process. My textile pieces are lead by concept. Usually they evolve from an experience or feeling I have encountered. I use materials that have a particular significance to the idea. These pieces are usually in some way cathartic and personal, but at the same time the themes are universal.
Where are you based and how do you work?
I have lived in London for the last 15 years but relocated recently to Hastings. My partner and I made the decision to move to get more space. This is at a premium in London and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for artists to survive in the city. I work using photography and drawing to start my ideas off, then I might work with the computer to refine ideas and test things out. I would usually then do some stitching, either by hand or machine. Then if I’m making the resin pieces they need to be cast and sanded. I work with a lot of diverse materials and methods.
You have done exciting work and commissions for many public organisations including Southwark Council and The British Museum. How did these happen?
The Southwark Council commission I got from applying to an open submission. I worked for them for two consecutive summers, the first project was participatory stitch project, and the second was making large cutwork banners for Nunhead Lane. I approached Southwark cathedral with my We love Peckham quilt and they were keen to show it. The British Museum projects are organised by the outreach coordinator from the adult education college that I work at. We have built up a partnership with the Museum and are usually involved with producing a piece of artwork to coincide with the Museums changing exhibitions.
What inspires you?
I see something that inspires me everyday. Inspiration is all around affecting all the senses. Not everything with be interpreted as art but it will remain with me. I am also inspired by particular experiences and the emotions these have evoked and I use the making process as a means to work through the feelings. The process of making these artworks is cathartic.
How has your work evolved?
I have always liked to experiment with combining different media and techniques. This is what made me do a degree in fine art and textiles. The course gave me the chance to explore lots of different materials and processes. So throughout my career I have been able to use these diverse techniques to express different ideas and concepts. I have always been inspired by personal experiences but also enjoy the process of making and working with materials.
What has been your career highlight to date?
I find it quite hard to single out one thing and I always think I could do better!
What advice would you give an aspiring textile artist?
It’s hard trying to develop artwork and make a living. But it is possible if you keep a balance. Don’t stop pushing your ideas and experimenting with materials.