Caren Garfen is an embroidery artist from London.
“For fifteen years up until 2007 I worked as a craftsperson hand stitching top-of-the-range, miniature, and traditional samplers for dolls’ houses. My work was sold, by my agent and myself, all over the USA, in Japan, Europe and Great Britain, to adult collectors. In 2007 I graduated from the University of Hertfordshire with a First Class (Hons) degree in the Applied Arts, and I now work as an artist.
“I am currently creating an art installation dealing with women and dieting for The Knitting & Stitching Show which takes place this Autumn. I will be incorporating works that have been made over the last three to four years and creating new pieces, bringing everything together in the shape of a kitchen. I have hand drawn and silkscreen printed all of the cupboards, washing machine, sink, oven, tiles, etc. which, as well as forming a backdrop for the installation, will become an integral part of this life-size artwork.
“It will not be possible to open the cupboards or eat anything in this kitchen as, according to research, food is dangerous. One week we can eat dairy, the next we cannot. Carbohydrates are fine, or carbohydrates are harmful. Sugar is deleterious to your teeth and your health, and sweeteners are full of chemicals. We should now eat 10 portions of fruit and vegetables rather than five! We treat ourselves with ‘good’ foods and feel guilty about ‘bad’ foods… Enter this kitchen at your peril!”
Caren ‘s work is astonishing. I’ve seen it with my own eyes and it’s minute and perfect. Caren’s years of stitching for tiny textile things for dolls houses have given her command over the microstitch and she uses it to terrific effect. She’s not afraid to use these delicate stitches to make big statements and as you take time to examine her work, you realise the messages contained within are often a stark contrast to the tiny charm of the form she uses.
At first glance you’ll assume the work is machine stitched, such is the size and delicacy of the stitch, but it’s all done by hand. Contained within the work is a quiet wit that brings the pieces to life and draws you in. It’s magic. I still don’t fully understand how she managed to stitch onto biscuits, let alone onto the almost microscopic pieces of fabric she uses, but she has and it’s astonishing work!
The Cutting (& Stitching) Edge is brought to you in association with PUSH: Stitchery, the contemporary embroidered art book curated by Jamie Chalmers. Featuring 30 textile-based artists from around the world, it’s a must have for needlework fans.