Welcome to the Cutting (& Stitching) Edge, where we showcase people whose embroidered creativity is fresh and new!
Livia Papiernik is a Franco-British mixed-media textile artist specialising in storytelling through hand-embroidered art and installation.
Livia studied traditional Hand embroidery during her BA at the Royal School of Needlework, where she developed her strong unique style of embroidery and drawing. She went on to graduate from the Royal College of Art with a Textile MA in 2021, where she was awarded the Roger Walls Burns Scholarship.
How did your technique evolve?
After doing a BA in Hand Embroidery at the RSN I did a mixed media course at the Royal College of Art. I took a step back from hand embroidery during those two years and focused instead on my painting and design identity. I experimented a lot with the different mediums I had access too, such as screen and digital printing, tufting and machine embroidery.
Those two years of experimentation were a huge influence on how I approach hand embroidery now. It allowed me to be more bold with the combination of techniques and textures, and I started to create embroideries that directly reflected my personal painting and storytelling style.
Where do you think your creativity is taking you?
I’ve learnt not to put my creativity in a box as it always wants to go in so many different directions. At the core of it is a love for storytelling, a need to create spaces and experiences where my audience can feel a sense of escapism and wonder.
I express this primarily through my art, but I also love fashion and interiors and I hope to draw bridges between these various sections in the future so that people can be immersed within my worlds in various ways.
What other artists inspire you?
I have so many inspirations it’s hard to choose. As a storyteller who loves fantasy, I have always been incredibly drawn to illustrators such as Aubrey Beardsley and Kay Nielsen. Their illustration bring so much joy, humour and awe.
Kay Nieslen’s illustrations for East of the Sun and West of the Moon are some of my favourites. An era of art that influences my work a lot are the Pre-Raphaelites. The conflict between the beauty and sadness of the women in these painting reflect the way I approach mental health with humour and fairy tales.
I also love artists who create 3D immersive spaces, where the story comes alive and takes over your reality. One contemporary artist I particularly love is Elena Stonacher. She creates these huge immersive textile installations that really bring me back to a nostalgic and childlike sense of comfort.
What is your favourite tool to use in your practice?
My favourite tool I would say is my big slate frame. I love to work on a large scale, and on a frame where I can see the bigger picture. I often been confined when I use a hoop for a large piece, the slate frame really allows me to sit and work on a project for a long time as if it is a canvas that I am slowly filling up.
Of course, my ultimate favourite tool would probably be a needle, it’s the key tool I need to do all of my work, and the tool my hands feel the most equipped with.
Can you share one creative tip with our readers?
Draw, paint, or collage, let your creative ideas run through you in ways that are spontaneous and quick. Then you can really give the time to your embroideries without feeling rushed to do all the ideas you have in your head.
It’s such a joy to see Livia’s work and to enjoy how her storytelling is emerging. I first met her when she was studying at the RSN, and the technical foundations that she learned there have provided a stable basis for her freedom of expression.
Livia’s art takes expresses her personal persuasions, but with a strong layer of nonchalant comedy that leans towards the absurd yet maintains a sense of classicism. There is a romantic nostalgia in many of the pieces, echoing her early influences but also reflecting Livia’s love of what she is doing. While there may be pain in some of the pieces, there is also fun – light and shade in equal measure.
From an embroidery standpoint, the work is confident and assured. The RSN degree offers such strong training in a range of needlework disciplines, that Livia is able to combine techniques so that her visual concepts can be realised in textile format, no matter how conceptual they may become.
From a narrative perspective, there is a sense that we are but at the start of Livia’s tale and she has a lot to say. It is clear that she embraces the artist’s journey with passionate glee and I am really excited to see where the adventure goes next!
You can find Livia on Instagram, enjoy her work at her website and listen to her thoughts on the Artists in Pyjamas podcast which she co-hosts with fellow artist Chloe Rochefort.