Australian textile artist Adrienne Doig literally puts herself into her work. Self portraiture is her speciality and her metamorphosed meta-aware mini masterpieces are delivered with intelligent wit and style.
For several years Adrienne has been exploring ways of placing herself within artistic contexts, whether it’s mixed media pieces of her own creation or works that might be more well known.
In her most recent exhibition “Picture Me”, Adrienne hacks herself into needlepoints but takes the self-portraiture concept even further by stitching herself in the act of stitching self-portraits.
The needlepoints that she works with are unfinished works by other people and Adrienne chooses pieces with interiors and homely settings to draw attention to the long-standing narrative about female domesticity. The characters in the pieces are creating work, and while it may have originally be given no major consideration, Adrienne’s appearance in the scene restates the artistic element and brings it to the fore.
Not simply content with appearing inside her art, while creating her art, Adrienne gets even more meta with her Close Up pieces, in which her work shows her working on putting herself into her work. Are you keeping up?
Adrienne explains further: “There is a sense of theatre and role play. I become a participant in the scene. In the pictures I tried to create the sense of a conversation so there is a dialogue that is happening both within the scene and with the previous maker. I have also added in details of other people’s art work, things I have around the house. I added these elements to more fully explore the idea of self -portraiture; in the sense that the things you have around you are a part of you. Also of course the work of other artists and friends is very precious to me, a daily source of inspiration and pleasure. Adding the work of other artists. into the scene expands the idea of self portraiture and of course it makes the pictures more interesting as well.”
Adrienne isn’t limited to just needlepoints, as her Russian doll sets will attest, and her 2017 series “Help Me” applied her mashup skills to tea towels for a fundraising campaign.
(The eagle eyed among you will notice the Aussie piece appearing within Scene 7 above.)
Adrienne’s work is great on so many levels. We’ve featured other artists on here who have repurposed existing work, whether it’s the needlepoint subversion of Crapestry the 3D creations of Frederique Morrel or the cross stitch mashups of Andoni Maillard, but Adrienne’s approach is really savvy.
Her decision to place herself within the context of the work not only resonates with the overarching “embroidery as art” debate but also emphasises the historical legacy that needlework is a part of. The choice of source material reminds us of the enduring presence of embroidery within our cultural heritage not only in the subject, but also in the form.
Adrienne stitches herself into the past, and in doing so, places it firmly in the present, while creating her own circular time paradox with continued self-reference in new works. If you think about it too much, you may need to sit down.
To top it all off, there’s a great sense of humour and an incisive surety to the work. Who else would delicately place such modern phrases appearing in a tapestry created nearly 1000 years ago?