Darren Ball – Personal Narratives And A Love Of Textiles

Ailish Henderson shares her view on the world of embroidery - it's the Ailist!

Darren Ball – personal narratives and a love of textiles

There is a characterful quality woven through Ball’s work, with a vintage playful edge…lets delve into his practice….

Darren’s embroidery reflects his love of textiles and the visual qualities present in fabric and thread. He tells us that he uses applique and free machine embroidery to illustrate personal narratives or ideas, inspired by memorabilia or his collection of vintage ‘Stitchcraft’ knitting and embroidery magazines. 

Look at the colours he uses, all work well with the character portrayed within the same piece:

Sonia (2020)

He tells us that Stitchcraft’ photographs or drawings provide the figurative element in his work and ideas evolve from personal experiences, film, textile history or a chance find. Who is Sonia? I hear you ask….

After careful consideration of this artists website he reveals…… Sonia is inspired by a photograph of models wearing Sonia Delaunay dresses in front of a Citröen B12 car painted by the artist in 1925. Using a beautifully coloured vintage scarf as the starting point, the figure is embroidered modelling a sweater with a geometric design from ‘Stitchcraft’ April 1946 which mirrors the design of the scarf.  An aristocratic image inspired by a domestic knitting pattern.

Darren Ball - Personal Narratives And A Love Of Textiles
Cherry (2020)

 I love the way he has collaged the colour of the women’s outfit in the image above, with the background fabric,

Darren works with fabrics he has collected over many years because of their specific characteristics, and this adds a uniqueness and ‘slowness’ to the handmade production of each piece. 

Within his personal statement, he gives us the following insight:

He carefully selects each fabric for its colour, surface and possible connotations as well as its physical quality and response to cutting, layering and sewing.  He may include pieces of found domestic embroidery, vintage or knitted fabrics to increase the variety of surface and to reference domestic work. This totally makes sense when we look at the work itself.

Darren Ball - Personal Narratives And A Love Of Textiles
Matinee Idol

Look at this man of the moment as above in this stitched portrait – quirky materials have been sourced to produce features such as shade and light quality. We love the random piece of lace! It flows onto the man’s suit – clever!

Darren aims to draw and paint with textiles, and the mark making is achieved through sewing, contrasting surface qualities and embellishment.  Stylistically he is influenced by fashion drawing and its economical use of line, its relationship to free embroidery and its relevance to the ‘Stitchcraft’ magazines.  He is particularly inspired by the illustrations of Carl Erickson, Christian Berard and Rene Gruau.  The scale of his current work reflects the domestic nature of the magazines adding both intimacy and an appropriateness for domestic interiors. The edges and applique style of each piece seem to be a trademark within his body of work.

Darren Ball - Personal Narratives And A Love Of Textiles

His pieces mostly have proper names – we really want to know these people for real – who is June? Who is Cherry?

Really though, there is a serious edge to Ball’s practice, it has the fine art appeal to grab the attention of even those not inclined to textiles as a rule, the finesse of each finished edge, no ragged edges, gives it a really finished feel. The painterly fashion is one to note, an artist truly able to depict a portrait in stitch.

To see more of his work, please visit his website and Instagram account.

May we also thank Darren Ball himself for providing us with such informative text to use within this article and a wealth of imagery.

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