Harriet Peacock is a mixed media/embroidery textile artist who combines modern and traditional textile processes, quilting, digital printing and tufting to showcase the elements of craft which are relevant in our evolving society.
“My current work is an abstraction of vibrant day-to-day urban life including colourful graffiti; random snapshots, carefully curated to create a new, playful and engaging aesthetic.
“I combine textile processes to translate my ideas into tactile art, often at scale, this reflects my personality and identity as a designer. It’s also important that what I create can be applied across different contexts and is both functional and an abstract expression of my design style.“
Naturally with a fresh, exciting talent like Harriet, I had to find out more!
How did your technique evolve?
Slowly! Like everything the more time you spend at something the more your technique and craft improves and I am really grateful for all the time the tutors and technicians at Manchester School of Art spent with me in the beginning as I was finding my way.
I am lucky, as once I decided textile art and quilting was where I really wanted to be – you just couldn’t keep me off the quilting machine! Whilst I work on my own skills and techniques, I also look out for inspiration from other more established artists in this space.
Where do you think your creativity is taking you?
Right now, I have some really exciting large scale commissions in the pipeline and these really fire my creativity. I love being able to respond to a brief and effectively pitching creative ideas, the fact that these will be on a large scale makes it all the more exciting and involving.
It allows me to think outside of the box and push my outcomes to new levels, I have explored this already in my Vertical Gallery collection for my degree show, Layered Translations. I really surprised myself as I had never worked to that sort of scale before and it is definitely the most ambitious project I have done so far. This is definitely the creative direction I am going as I am keen to push the boundaries of my practice.
What other artists inspire you?
I am a big fan of Henri Matisse in the general art sphere and draw a lot of inspiration from his bold use of colour and use of abstract shapes. I also think it’s really important to have inspirations from different artistic backgrounds, so although Matisse may not directly influence textiles, I am very inspired in my own visual research by his drawing and mark making.
I love Zandra Rhodes textile designs, as they are so fun and colourful, which is a key theme in my work. I also am really inspired by Grayson Perry and the story telling he uses specifically in his tapestries, his approach is really amazing as it focuses on a story and I love the idea of incorporating storytelling in my own work.
What is your favourite tool to use in your practice?
I have just invested in a second-hand quilting machine, and I absolutely love it – it helps me quickly and easily deliver my creative vision making fabric my canvas. I was finding it difficult to produce work on a larger scale with my domestic machine and this gives me the artistic freedom to do that. But I also love mixing and combining different techniques to make unique layered outcomes so it is difficult to choose just one tool!
I like the idea of merging the line between art and craft and I think textiles is a great medium to explore this, I use embroidery as a tool to draw with fabric.
Can you share one creative tip with our readers?
Whilst knowing that I always wanted to do something in the creative/artistic universe, it took me a while to establish exactly what creative direction I wanted to go in. It was only by exploring lots of different artistic avenues including painting, sculpture and multi-media that I was able to realise that textile art and specifically quilting was where I really wanted to be and where my passion is.
So, my advice would be to try as much as you can artistically, when you have the opportunity so you can discover your true passion. In addition to finding out what makes you happy, you will also learn lots of amazing and useful techniques from other artforms that you can use to bring an additional dimension to your chosen specialism.
There’s so much to love about Harriet’s work. The urban infusion of colour and attitude into her huge quilted panels is fearless, and her use of fringing and free machine embroidery bridges the gap between street art and domesticity.
I’ve loved graffiti for as long as this website has been going – Frances Goodman was one of the first posts I shared about the grittiness of urban scrawl, while Jacquelyn Royal continues to exalt unseen artworks through her needlepoint. Harriet Peacock is a dynamic addition to the textile graffiti lexicon, and I’m really excited to see where she goes from here.