The Cutting (& Stitching) Edge – Carly Altree-Williams

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Carly Altree-Williams is a Melbourne-based textile artist. The pieces featured in today’s post come from her Feminine Realm series.

Carly Altree-Williams - Mother and Child hand embroidery

The Feminine Realm is a selection of new works exploring the theme of the female experience using portraiture, adornment, animals and rites of passage. Portraiture captures a person at a certain moment in their life whether it be during a major event or simply during everyday human experiences where one can have feelings of strength, fear, happiness or sorrow.

Carly Altree-Williams - Dolores hand embroidery

Initially the works began as a literal representation of strong female figures who inspired me such as Elizabeth I, Patti Smith, PJ Harvey and Frida Kahlo. However the portraits developed into a reflection of rites of passage, states of mind and the many parts of you that make up the self.

Carly Altree-Williams - Dolores hand embroidery detail

The monologue “All the World’s a Stage” from William Shakespeare’s As you Like It describes “One man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages”. Inspired by this I am interested in portraying the different ages of women and female archetypes such as the young girl, the bride, the mother and the crone. The animals I have chosen are to symbolise our connection to the animal realm and the many aspects of the feminine psyche. For example the panda represents strength and survival, the deer represents innocence and naivety, and the flamingo the seductress and the lover.

Carly Altree-Williams - I'm Still Here hand embroidery

Embroidery is a very labour intensive yet meditative process (by hand or machine) which allows me to reflect upon my own experiences as I make the works. I have attempted to utilise mostly fabric from my own fabric collection be it old furnishing fabric, dresses that don’t fit anymore, shirts that I never liked or just many of the little bits of scraps lying around. This allows me to connect to my own life and experiences as well as reflecting on others.”

Carly Altree-Williams - Till Death Do Us Part hand embroidery

Carly’s work is charming, with the upcycled textiles grounding the work in the real world, and yet the choice of animals as the subjects of the pieces transforms the work into something slightly mythical, giving these milestones in our lives even greater significance.

Carly Altree-Williams - Till Death Do Us Part hand embroidery detail

Take the time to explore these works on Carly’s website, as there’s a great amount detail in the work and you can really see how the free machine linework adds an illustrative feel to the work. Charming and sinister, whimsical and serious, Carly’s work is definitely worth paying attention to.