An interview with Gretta Louw


I have more in common with Medusa than I’d care to admit – detail (2020)

Despite the amazing embroidery around today there is still a common misconception that embroidery is old fashioned. An easy way to demonstrate that this is certainly not the case is the fine art textiles of Gretta Louw. Gretta was born in South Africa, grew up in Perth, Australia and is now based in Germany. She combines her digitally printed fabric with various forms of embroidery and Helen Adams caught up with her to find out more. 

Untitled 1 (detail) (2019)

How do you describe your textile art and what techniques do you use?

Mostly I’m working with different combinations of embroidery and digital printing on fabric. I have an iterative digital process, using various algorithmic tools to develop a motif that is printed onto linen or cotton, and then I sketch and embroider (by hand, free-hand machine, or digital machine) over the top. I think these pieces really sit across painting, digital art, and textile art.

After the year we’ve had we could all use a little (2020)

What is it about textiles that appeals to you?

It’s such a delicious antidote to the acceleration of the 21st century. I love watching a piece evolve under my fingers, I love the materiality of it – especially after so many years working predominantly digitally. There’s something that’s incredibly inviting and universal about textiles that seems to really cause viewers to slow down and look. It’s as though in investing in this labour- and time-intensive means of production, it necessitates a slower consumption of the work too.

Gretta’s most recent work

How do you create a piece?

I do most of my sketching on the computer using Photoshop and a Wacom tablet. I also have on my computer folders and folders of categorised source material I’ve found online. I tend to sample from this database as well as my own past digital work, sort of like developing my own visual language.

And we’ll be here when you’re all ghosts (2020)

It’s a hard question but roughly how long does a piece of work take?

I work full time and the large pieces tend to take around 3-4 months each, sometimes more. I usually have at least one smaller project going on concurrently that I can switch to when I need a break from the large ones or a shift in perspective.

They Learn Like Small Children (2019) 

What’s next?

Due to the pandemic my solo show in Berlin has been postponed until the end of the year, but it will be happening at some stage!

This is a shorter version of an interview on www.textilecurator.com and you can see Gretta’s work at www.grettalouw.com

Helen Adams

Helen Adams founded www.textilecurator.com to help ‘wake up the world to contemporary textile art.’ She posts every Monday for an inspirational start to your week. She is also a freelance stylist and journalist and is currently living in Malaysia.

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