Our talk this month at the Solihull Embroiderers' Guild was given by textile artist Zoe Hillyard. Zoe constructs vases combining ceramics and fabric which she describes as ceramic patchwork. The technique she uses involves carefully smashing ceramic vases that she mostly acquires from charity shops and market stalls, wrapping the broken pieces in a variety of fabrics and then hand sewing the pieces back together again to mend the vase and form a patchwork. Sounds ingenious and looks amazing.
She describes her work as "a mending process to revive discarded and broken ceramics, creating a new tactile aesthetic for familiar forms. Leaving their original function and mass-produced anonymity behind, each piece becomes a unique decorative vessel with a flawed beauty that is the result of its material histories to date. The making process requires a leap of faith, but results in a fresh new re-incarnation."
Much of Zoe's inspiration comes from her travels abroad, particularly her 12 months sabbatical in Mongolia working as a teacher for the VSO (Voluntary Services Overseas) for the Mongolian Textile Institute and spending time with people in remote communities where she says lives are influenced by the landscape and climate and how fibre and textile skills often play an important part in livelihood activities.
During her talk Zoe also spoke of the importance of her work at Birmingham City University as course lecturer on BA (Hons) Textile Design, The course combines Constructed Textiles, Embroidery, Printed Textiles and Surface Design or Textile Retail Management.
I first came across Zoe's work at the Made in the Middle touring Exhibition last year at the MAC in Birmingham.
Commenting on her own work she says:
"The design process, for me, begins with materials - both raw and recycled and Ceramic Patchwork reflects this approach. It builds on my interest in hand craft processes, construction and form, and in my belief that items should be treasured for the long-term."