Language In Textile Art


Beneath The Folds with Christine Cunningham

Using Language in Textile Art is a powerful tool indeed. Embroidered text allows you to capture the essence of a subject, providing an emotional layering, insight into personal and imagined experiences to which the viewer can relate. Snippets of text creates ”a rich and vibrant tapestry” (‘Reducing Us to Simply a Heartbeat’) within panels of patchwork and applique.

Embroidering in silk threads and wool provides additional texture, colour and a natural rhythm to the surface. Letters do not have to be perfect. I celebrate imperfection, striving to attain a child-like simplicity and freedom within the written word.

Language in Textile Art: Expressing Trauma

The cancer series conveys the physical brutality of surgery: ”Carve me up, cut it out and send me on my way…Imperfection guaranteed… I shall always fear the sight of me, my frail and frightened breast.”

Language in Textile Art: Expressing Trauma
”Carve me up and cut it out… Am I sexy now?” from ‘Cancer 2’

With an emotional aftermath of fragility and post traumatic stress: ”Insecure, the ugliness implores how perfect you must have been before…Am I sexy now?”

Language in Textile Art: Expressing Trauma
”Anxiety has seeped into my bones, into my dreams” from ‘Cancer 1’

Language in Textile Art: Expressing Abuse

‘Mists of Time’ evokes a fragmented ego, damaged by an overpowering relationship: ”I really must stop, catch myself falling back into…you. Before you ripped me apart, absorbing my torment, turning me into your sport. I cannot recall when the mists rolled in, vacuous and blind, overpowering and unkind…”

Language in Textile Art: Expressing Abuse
”absorbing my torment…turning me into your sport” from ‘Mists of Time’

‘The Essence of Our Being’ is a love of fragile proportions, a roller coaster of psychological abuse: ”My weaknesses you did delight in. Ammunition for your games. You removed my armour, bit by bit, and crept into the folds…How I miss your tender heart. The way you opened up and let me climb inside. I was always so careful not to tear apart your fragile walls…”

Language in Textile Art: Expressing Abuse
”You removed my armour, bit by bit, and crept into the folds” from ‘The Essence of Our Being’

Language in Textile Art: Expressing Loss

‘Grace’ captures the emptiness of a parent haunted by the death of a child, unable to move on: ”A gentle waterfall caresses the windowpane and your tiny baby footsteps pitter-patter, pitter-patter, swelling my heart with joy again…Your laughter still bounces off the walls today.”

Language in Textile Art: Expressing Loss
”your laughter still bounces off the walls today… my little angel child” from ‘Grace’

And ‘Cocktails at Nine’ demonstrates the urge to escape an ordered life of routine and commitment: ”To put aside all that I am and let the craving engulf my very being…Just this one time.”

Language in Textile Art: Expressing Loss
”Oh, what delight to put aside all that I am…” from ‘Cocktails at Nine’

For detailed poetry and text please visit The Womanhood Collection by Christine Cunningham.

Christine Cunningham

Creating art from recycled materials using traditional methods (applique, patchwork, quilting) with a modern exploration into fabric manipulation and padded structure. Unusual materials include hair, plastic, rubber, metal, disintegrating fabrics and found objects. I source my treasures from carboot sales, charity shops and freecycle. Original poetry captures the essence of an experience, an emotional layering to which the viewer can relate on a personal level. I have two bodies of work. The Natural Collection explores abstract flower design and the seasons, religion, visions of India and Buddhism, childhood nostalgia and the seaside. The Womanhood Collection explores natural states of being including breast cancer, sexuality, the ageing process, anatomy, love, fragility and independence. I was inspired by my own experiences of breast cancer, both the physical brutality and fragility of living in the aftermath.

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