Kathryn Harmer Fox is a mixed media artist from South Africa whose free machine embroidery creates stunning portraits of profound figures.
“I am a multimedia artist working predominantly in fibre and more specifically, fabric and thread. I believe that the ability to draw frees me as an artist and gives me the vocabulary with which to visually communicate my own particular imagery. Whether I am ‘telling my picture’ with a pencil or a paintbrush, a sculpting tool or a sewing machine, I am essentially drawing my idea into a communicable reality.
“I am a representational rather than an abstract artist and even though I have worked on landscapes, I am drawn to the figurative in art, whether that figure be human or animal. I have been gifted with being born in Africa. Growing up with the knowledge and presence of wild animals is an honour and an endless wonder and I find myself drawn to interpreting their hides, their heads, their expressions. In the midst of all this indigenous, wild beauty, the expressive movement of a hand or a face, the glance of an old woman is often as endearing. Then there are the shells, the flowers, an aloe, the burst of growth in a tangled root — I am surrounded by an endless source of inspiration which is lit by a clear and hot sky.
“Fibre, as a medium holds an endless fascination. It is not only the surprise of discovery: a painting made from dress material and sewing thread and drawn with the domestic sewing machine! It is also the endless formats to which this medium lends itself; a painting draped across a wall, a sculpture standing proud, art cut and sewn and worn as a coat or sat upon as a chair. Fibre art can be made from as disparate materials as human/animal hair or used food wrappers. It can be dyed, painted, torn, shredded, seamed, stitched, cut, padded. I am continually, excited and inspired by this multi-faceted medium.
Kathryn’s work engages me, quickly and quite deeply. Her characters draw me in and then the nature of the stitch holds me. Much like Cayce Zavaglia’s hand embroidery, or some of the Irish sewing machine work we’ve featured on here, Kathryn is able to produce a pencil-like illustrative style of embroidery that is very appealing.
Her human figures have a stillness about them yet each piece has an implicit storyline; her animal work contains hints of primal power. All in all, it’s a very interesting collection of work and another fantastic example of free machine embroidery.