Welcome to the Cutting (& Stitching) Edge, where we showcase people whose embroidered creativity is fresh and new!
BRO. is a Czech hand embroidery artist whose work captures the joyful connections of everyday people.
“My current body of work is concerned with urban people’s body language and its nonverbal expression of inner freedom in everyday situations. My work explore photography and the different ways we store our photos. I keep my photo memories “in fabric” instead of on a mobile phone or on my computer memory.
“The initial impulse for my work was this flashback from my childhood – I was eight years old and we got these packages with embroidered doilies made by my aunt who was in prison at the time. When she got out, I became obsessed with embroidery and asked her to teach me.
“The things I choose to highlight in my work come to me haphazardly, really. It could be a shallow photo, or an image of random people taken on a crowded street. Sometimes I take photos and when I look at them later, something extraordinary always emerges. No matter what that something is, it always speaks of some inner freedom.“
I got in touch with BRO. to find out more:
How did your technique evolve?
The basis of my technique is and always has been an ordinary back stitch. Combined with ultra-thin silk thread, it allows me to achieve fine detail in my embroidered portraits of city people. In the individual embroideries, I combine the back stitch with other types of stitches and I have also developed my own technique of layering fabrics, which I then stretch to fill in various parts of the image.
There is a real joy to your work and I know that you look for ‘inner freedom’ in the work—does this inform the colour and fabric choices when you stitch?
I guess it must be said that all my embroideries are based on photographs of real people that I meet by chance and who intrigue me with their appearance, dress style, their movement, way of walking, small gestures… I feel their inner freedom in their external details, which is also intrinsically close to my own sense of freedom. When I then draw an illustration, I choose the colours and fabrics of the applications on impulse, and I often make decisions when embroidering as I go. Nevertheless, by choosing colours and materials, I often manage to multiply the authenticity and power of the moment that decides exactly which motif and inner freedom is the really unifying motif and theme of my embroidery without thinking about it in advance or in any way manipulating it.
Where do you think your creativity is taking you?
My creativity simply keeps bringing me back to myself, to the essence of my being, and is one of the most essential sources of my life’s joy and strength.
What other artists inspire you?
I have many favourite artists, but I would say that my real inspiration is day-to-day life in and of itself. I walk through big cities and watch people on the streets. I like city outskirts and peripheries. Behind every stranger who draws my attention is a unique story which I sometimes like to make up in my mind. My imagination is my inspiration! And then also music.
What is your favourite tool to use embroidering?
I would say my hands:)
Can you share one creative tip with our readers?
Never create things that mainly appeal to others; try to do things that above all else appeal to you.
BRO.’s work makes me smile so much. The hand embroidered images capture moments between people that are intimate and yet they feel like situations we’ve all been in – familiar vignettes, similar to the work of Gillian Bates. The colour decisions and textile choices inject more character into the scenes as well, combining to create vibrant moments in time that celebrate the mundane and prevent us from taking these interactions for granted.
Life gets in the way so much that it’s difficult to stop and smell the roses, let alone really pause to watch the lives of others. You might argue that part of society’s problem is that we fail to see the magic moments that happen around us. BRO. reminds us of those mini miracles; of the tiny sparks of joy that are a daily occurrence for society as a whole but are rarely enjoyed outside of the immediate participants.
Packed with texture, these touching moments remind us of the quiet joy of humanity and I’m glad that BRO. is taking time to tell these tales. You can find more joy by following BRO. online and on Instagram.