Every year, Hand & Lock organizes a competition for the prestigious Prize for Embroidery to promote the use of hand embroidery and to discover emerging embroidery talent. This year, sponsors added Textile Art categories to the traditional Fashion categories. The 2016 brief challenges participants to create quality design that consumers will cherish for years and that will stand the test of time.
On Thursday, November 3rd, London’s Bishopsgate Institute hosted the final of the 2016 Hand & Lock Prize for Embroidery.
Today we’ll meet the third-place winner in the Textile Art Open Category.
Name: Eranga Bandaranayake
Location: Sydney, Australia
Eranga, what would you say is your title? If you don’t formally have one, make something up. If you don’t, I will. 😉
My obsession with experimental embroidery makes me a textile artist and at the same time, my works are created to be displayed on the human body. Therefore, let’s say I’m a Fashion and Textile Artist.
That’s a great and appropriate title!
Describe your Hand & Lock entry:
It’s an avant-garde headpiece themed ‘Running Against the Wind’.
The concept and theme for my work derived from the life of a high class woman in the Victorian era, whom I would describe as a possession of the family. The head of household dressed his women to display family wealth and elevated position in society. Girls in Victorian era were dressed to attract attention and groomed like racehorses to get ready for courtship and marriage. Women were considered weaker and unequal to all men legally and socially, however became resistant to the oppression by men and gained total independence with rights to vote.
I present my work as a tribute to all women who fought both men and fellow women to make a difference and gain freedom. It also celebrates today’s women who choose to dress with confidence to reflect self-image rather than being mannequins to display family status.
Inspirations were derived from Egon Schiele’s charcoal lines that clearly show freedom and speed and are also strong as wire. The basic structure was created using millinery wire. The profile of a horse was elongated and distorted as a common feature of his artwork. His paint marks often appear semi-transparent because the pigment has been cut so thin and stretched far. This quality inspired the use of sinamay material which was hand dyed, pleated and finally embroidered with silk thread with isolated stitches to enhance the smear of the brush. The headpiece was embellished in coloured pearl purl and iridescent vintage sequins. The overall headpiece resembles an oversized hat from 18th century, decorated with ribbon.
The project has been personally very rewarding and I’m grateful to my mentor, Jess De Wahls, for her immense support.
What made you want to enter this competition?
Hand & Lock introduced a new ‘Textile Art’ Category in 2016, which I thought was great and I just had to take part.
What motivated your choice for your entry?
When I read this new Textile Art Category allows entries from the subjects such as jewellery and accessories, I instantly visualized a piece of millinery. I’m fascinated with fascinators!
Are there any secrets you can now reveal about your entry?
I absolutely love hats but had never thought of creating one before nor have I had the knowledge about millinery making. The entire process of learning was satisfying. I read lot of books, gathered all the information and created this piece. An avant-garde, as my first piece of millinery.
This is your third Hand & Lock win. Wow! I am so impressed!
How many times have you entered?
Tell us briefly about your previous entries, especially the first one.
My entry in 2011 won a prize for the first time. It was inspired by the glamour and romance of timeless vintage era and its stone-crusted jewellery. Entire embroidered surface was created from off cuts and remnants.
Then in 2014 I won a prize for the second time. ‘Perfect Balance’ was the concept of my work. The inspirations for the embroidery was derived from the beauty of mathematics in nature.
What draws you to the Hand & Lock competition?
It always challenges the participants to explore embroidery with an unconventional spin. The brief gives the freedom to choose an inspiration and also the opportunity to create an interesting and unique piece of art.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about entering?
The challenge is to explore new materials, embroidery techniques and present your own unique creation, preserving quality. Quality craftsmanship should be one of your priorities.
Are there other competitions that you enter, or is most of your other work for private clients?
Most of my work is for private clients. I’m also engaged in small projects that allow me to experiment with embroidery.
In our previous conversation, you mentioned a tatting shuttle is one of your favorite tools. What do you tat, and how do you use your tatting?
I use tatting mostly for bridal accessories.
What’s been the biggest surprise of your career and the projects you’ve undertaken?
An invitation to design costumes for a movie, just after I graduated from University. With no prior experience, that was a challenge I embraced.
Where else can we see your work?
What projects are on the horizon for you?
My private clients have been mostly from Sri Lanka but now I’m looking to expand my label ERA. I am giving my career a fresh start in Sydney, therefore working on launching a new creative collection.
Describe your dream commission. What and for whom is it?
I would love to design costumes for a fantasy character. The opportunity to work for a fantasy movie or theatre production would be my dream commission.
Rapid-fire Round: (Don’t think too hard about these.)
A favorite book you’ve read recently: Harry Potter Series
You are making lunch for the artist of your choice—and s/he will love it. Who is the artist, and what are you making for lunch? It would be more fun to meet someone who communicates in a language I do not speak. There are a few Russian artists I love. I would choose Vitas also known as ‘Prince of the dolphin voice’. I might want to promote my favourite Sri Lankan food.
You’re asked to create a garment or accessory for an animal. What is the animal, and what do you create? Matching scarves for a kangaroo & her joey
If you were not an artist, what would you be? Teacher
You must turn a song into a garment. What’s the song, and what’s the garment? Lost Boy by Ruth B. A costume in a material as light as a feather, with a silhouette that flows rhythmically in the wind.
A place you’d like to visit: Santorini Island
We’re hosting a show of “performance embroidery.” Describe your piece in the event. A massive, stone-encrusted, hand-embroidered tent with fibre optics and LED that interacts with the audience.
Something you’d like to learn: Skiing
Favorite clothing to wear: Jeans and T-shirt
We’re sending a collection of art into space with the hope that aliens will someday discover it. You’re asked to contribute a piece of embroidery. What do you make? A book of songs. I would select 10 great songs that define each decade in music and use embroidery together with technology to make the songs play. I will use embroidery to make the pages of the book that depict each song. The embroidery would either display the meaning of the song or the artists.
Jen Funk Weber is Queen of Funk & Weber Designs, a cross stitch and counted-thread embroidery designer and teacher dedicated to stitchy explorations and adventures.