45 cm x 55 cm
Wool, needlepoint canvas
Natalie Fisher’s needlepoint is a celebration of colour and detail, making her work both vibrant and subtly nuanced. She interprets images from themes that inspire her, including the natural world and most recently Moroccan mosaics, creating beautiful canvases that have a painterly quality to them.
What is your background in textiles?
I am a self-taught textile artist. Although I have a degree in Landscape Architecture that included subjects such as colour theory and design, my background in textiles is best described as having being derived from decades of experimentation and reading. I have been greatly inspired by the work of textile and needlepoint designer Kaffe Fasset.
How do you describe your work?
My work is realist needlepoint inspired by themes and subject that I love. I use tapestry/needlepoint wool and apply it to a needlepoint canvas as an artist may apply paint to a canvas; that is, by mixing different shades of wool in each stitch. I do this to create an effect of subtle shading and gradation. For this reason it is impossible to replicate a piece, and each is a one-off that cannot be charted or prescribed.
Where do you work?
I mostly work from home, but the portability of needlepoint means that I can, take my work with me on holidays or on work trips. I don’t work on a frame, which makes it possible to take my work anywhere.
How do you work?
I use my own photographs to inspire, plan and design my works. I start by printing my photograph onto an A4 sheet, then I create a tracing of as many details as I can. The tracing is then taken to the printer for enlargement to the finished size. Then I create another tracing, this time from the printed cartoon onto blank needlepoint canvas. I choose my palette of colours and, with the original photograph beside me, start to stitch and translate the colours by eye.
Do you always use the same type of stitch, if so why?
I always use tent stitch, which is a common half cross needlepoint stitch. I like to keep the stitch uniform and work with colours and design to create the visual impact. The stitch itself them becomes incidental and creates a pixilated effect on the finished work, rather than being a feature in itself.
How long does a piece generally take?
My pieces take many many months to create. Because I like to work on a large scale, many of my pieces have taken between 6-9 months to produce, and that is at the rate of, on average, stitching a few hours on a daily basis. I am not a full time artist, and I have another job, working for myself as a consultant. I am fortunate to be able to juggle the two, depending on the demands of each, which means that when I’m really busy with consulting, my stitching takes a back seat, but when things are quiet, I can pick up my needlepoint and make good progress in between jobs or tasks.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by the natural and built world, by beauty that I see in the public domain. A number of years ago I was particularly inspired by the beauty found in the single flower bloom. As a result I made a series of giant flowers (approximately 1m x 1m) and challenged myself to represent the nuanced colours and shading in each and every petal. In recent years I have been inspired by Moroccan architectural design, particularly mosaic tiled walls. I am drawn to the infinite geometric patterns found in Moroccan mosaic tile configurations and the juxtaposition of the two ancient techniques of mosaic tile making and needlepoint. I enjoy inviting the viewer to consider how ancient tiles that may date back centuries, can be represented by wool, complete with ageing, chipping and fading.
What did your recent visit to Morocco entail?
I have been to Morocco three times now. On my recent trip, in April 2017, just a few months ago, I went around looking for design inspiration from the key architectural sites throughout the country. They included Madrasas (ancient places of study), mosques and public courtyards. I took lots of photos, visited the best art galleries and museums and visited an artists residency and collaborative art space in a beautiful town called Tetouan. I came home with lots of inspiration and some new contacts.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I have just been accepted as one of a handful of international artists to exhibit my work in the UAE as part of the Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival, 2017. This is hugely exciting because it was a competitive application process, it requires me to make new innovative work, and will open up a new international audience to me. The Festival runs from 13 December 2017 to 24 January 2018 and my work will be exhibited at the Sharjah Art Museum, which is not far from Dubai.
Do you have any advice for aspiring textile artists?
I advise aspiring textile artists to explore a range of conventional and unconventional avenues for exhibition, exposure and opportunities. Although you may be working in textiles, don’t necessarily limit yourself to this category. Put yourself forward in the textile and broader sectors. Get on social media, learn how to write persuasive proposals, never give up, and do what you love.