25 cm x 30 cm
Embroidery, Applique, Printing and fabric
Australian Susie Vickery worked as a costume maker before discovering embroidery. She now creates her own work as well as working with under privileged and refugee community groups around the world. She divides her time between London, Mumbai and Australia.
Can you briefly describe your background?
I trained as a costumier making theatre costumes in Perth, Australia. Then in 1984 I moved to London where I worked for the RSC [Royal Shakespeare Company] and West End Musicals. After returning to Australia for a few years my husband and I moved to Kathmandu. I’d always sewn as a child and I decided to study embroidery via distance learning firstly a City and Guilds course and afterwards a degree. As it was pre-Skype everything had to be posted so it was quite a process.
How do you describe your work?
It is very issue based. Subjects that concern me include globalisation, artisans and the reclining textile trade. Technique is very important to me, and the process, techniques and materials are all part of the concept too.
I’m also very interested in bringing movement into my work and I use a lot of automation. I’m currently working on embroidered interviews and I have projects in development with different tailors, including tailors in Tibet.
How do you work?
I embroider straight from photographs, I hand stitch the outline and fill in it in. I sketch the face in thread and then make paper puppets. Once I have the puppet I embroider different mouth shapes and overlay them with the puppet taking an image of each one on my SLR camera so when it is animated it looks like the puppet is talking. I put the puppets on a green screen and then edit all the images using a computer programme. I’m perfecting my automation technique and have found You Tube incredibly useful.
How has your work developed over the time?
The automation of my textiles has become smoother with months of practice.
What inspires you?
Issues and people. My work is always people orientated.
I see you are based in a few place, how does that work?
My husband and I were mainly in Mumbai for 13 years but we have a flat in London so spend a few months there each year. I’ve started missing my family so I’m spending more time in Western Australia.
How did you get involved with your refugee development projects?
I have a wonderful partner who lives in Kathmandu. She sources the work and the projects and I specialise in craft development workshops. The aim is to take traditional skills of the groups we visit and help them to create handicrafts so they can become financially independent. We’re soon going to a large New York gift fair where buyers can buy the work. We’ve worked in many areas including Myanmar, Nepal, Tibet, Gaza and recently with Syrian refugees in Turkey.
With such a wide portfolio, what is your proudest achievement so far?
I’m a huge fan of William Morris and was proud to have my work selected for an ‘Inspired by Morris,’ show at the William Morris museum in Walthamstow [London]. My work is also part of the Constance Howard Research Centre at Goldsmiths University
Do you have any advice for aspiring textile artists?
Sew, sew, sew.
Susie Vickery is exhibiting in ‘Wit of the Stitch,’ from 16th July – 25th September at the Ruthin Craft Centre for Applied Arts.