Bridgeen Gillespie is an illustrator who creates embroidery art and fabric design. She loves referencing pop-culture in her work, and grew up on comics, David Bowie and cult 90’s TV
How long have you been involved in the world of stitch?
I didn’t take up stitching until Dec 2011, so it’s been less than two years. I’m such a newbie upstart! Being an illustrator I wanted to stitch my own designs and my background in indie comics lent itself well to embroidery. I love the inking stage in comics- these days I do my inking with thread. Since my first project (a stitched portrait of Satine from Moulin Rouge), I’ve learned so much and have gone on to exhibit embroidery portraits around the UK, sell patterns via etsy and Kitschy Digitals, contribute to magazines and create private commissions for the likes of Australian musician Gotye.
What is your favourite thing about stitchery?
Embroidery is a natural extension of my drawing skills, but it’s more than working with line. It forces me to consider colour, and lately texture has been on my mind. Each new piece I work on is an experiment. There’s so much to learn, and strangely, so much simple joy from seeing your work come to life on fabric. I’m really ‘in the zone’ when I’m stitching, it’s like I’ve found my true love. I enjoy sewing in front of the telly watching reruns of my favourite shows (Buffy anyone?)
What do you make of the modern craft scene?
I’m still getting to grips with it, there’s so much to soak up! I think in the UK, knitting and stitching are sometimes seen as ‘older ladies’ pursuits but that’s changing with every hip new crafter on the scene, and the influx of new magazines like Mollie Makes, and Crafty Magazine (where I regularly contribute). I’m heavily reliant on the internet for a sense of community, and contemporary textile crafts seem to be on the rise internationally. I’ve found Twitter and Flickr groups like Phat Quarter (The Mr X Stitch group) instrumental in connecting me with other crafters and finding my kin in the world.
Do you have any unusual talents we might not know about?
Some of you may not know that I’m also a fabric designer. I work digitally, often from my own photos and drawings. I’ve just completed a collection of fabric designs created especially for the 2013 City Of Culture year based on architectural details from Historic Derry/Londonderry’s City centre. The resulting exhibition quilt represents an intergenerational collaboration of old and new skills, digital and traditional, as I worked with local cross community quilters and experts to create the final piece, which reflects Derry’s textile heritage (the city was one famous for its booming shirt factory industry).
Here’s a selection of the textile art that Bridgeen has created since she burst onto the embroidery scene: