Warning this Future Heirlooms has images that may be NSFW. Proceed with caution!
Welcome back to Future Heirlooms a post focusing on the fabulous and innovative ways contemporary artists are working with needle and thread. Today’s interview is with the talented and often saucy British artist Lou Trigg. I found Lou’s work quite awhile back and loved her combination of wit, humor, and honesty. I have had the privilege and honor to exhibit my work alongside Lou’s and would love to have a piece of hers in my personal collection. So I was delighted to get the opportunity to ask Lou questions about her work and process.
How did you begin to embroider?
I was doing an MA at Brighton University in 2006 on the idea of ‘the invisible woman’ — women in their fifties being invisible in the media and in the wider world. It had started out as a sort of ironic, drawn book but I was never really happy with my drawings. I decided to take a freehand embroidery class and suddenly my horizon widened; I learned how to embroider in this freehand way which, again liberated me as the stitched drawings could never really be perfect so the pressure to produce something ‘perfect’ was removed. The project itself turned into one that was more personal and looked at how I had always felt invisible. You can see the final work here:the invisible woman
I find the idea of “the invisible woman” really interesting and being pregnant at the moment often think of the hidden or invisible pregnant artist. The pressure women might feel to hide the fact that they are having a child from their career persona. As a result thought I am not in my mid fifties I relate to Lou’s motivation for this work in a way.
Where do you live? Does this affect your work?
I live in Brighton, on the south coast of the UK. I think that Brighton has a sense of allowing people to be who or want they want to be, without anyone batting an eyelid, so in that sense perhaps I feel freer to be myself (whatever that is at any given moment) and hopefully that allows me to create without having to censor my work too much.
Describe your studio and studio practice.
I work in chaos, unfortunately. I really must get organized. I like to decorate old doll’s houses as well, when I have time, and they are in my sewing studio together with all the miniature furniture, wallpapers, flooring’s and tools required. It really is a mess!
Sounds like a great and wonderful place to me. I love seeing the state of folks work space – especially the mess.
How has your work evolved since you first began working with embroidery?
Initially my work was somewhat tentative, and without much feeling. I was finding my way. As I got more confident with both sewing machines, I use 2 types of sewing machine; one for the freehand work and one embroidery machine, I allowed myself to make mistakes and relax. More recently my work has become somewhat controversial and some of the images have in fact been banned from 3 different galleries. I find this quite amusing, though annoying too, as I feel people are missing the point. The images in question depict men masturbating over women; I suspect had the roles been reversed and women’s bodies were explicitly exposed in the same way no-one would have batted an eyelid.
Much of your work is text based can you talk about what draws you to text both conceptually and visually? How do you select the text that you use?
My recent series of dating profiles were inspired by the horrendous profiles I found on a couple of free dating sites. I was astounded at the dreadful spelling, punctuation and the general way that men (I didn’t look at the women) sell themselves. I love using the text and photos from those profiles. On my swearing pieces, I especially the love the juxtaposition of text with delicate fabric and swear words.
You also have made a series of works based on images of women/icons from pop culture, the tragic woman,- can you talk about what inspired this series and how you selected what woman to portray and how to portray them?
Much of my work is centered on my aggravation with the media’s insistence on women being or looking young. It is as if aging is a disease which must be stopped. I regard the prevalence of frozen, surgically enhanced faces as a sad state of the culture industry’s obsession with making women (and increasingly, men) feel bad about themselves, so bad that they feel the need to have poisons injected into their faces or have their faces ‘lifted’. The effects of these surgeries on ‘women of a certain age’ (such as myself) is that they simply look like older woman who have had work done. It is a kind of mask which hides a reality; it’s that mask, the falseness, that I particularly dislike.
The tragic women series you mention began by my looking at women in the media who presented a certain image to the public, but behind which was a tragic reality. It doesn’t take long to come across women such as Diana Dors, Lady Diana, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and see that scenario played out. I liked the idea of using the loose ends of the threads to add emotion to my stitchures.
Can you talk about how the work is autobiographical?
I think that any important work that an artist creates is autobiographical in one way or another. Mine is no different. I was a painfully shy child, unable to express myself and feel that I could be seen or heard. I dislike dishonesty and falseness. Being good enough as myself seemed to be a difficult thing to achieve when I was growing up. Perhaps my work is enabling me to feel good enough and to be authentic.
Where can we see your work? links, websites, galleries, shops, etc.
I am very proud to have been asked to exhibit here: http://www.ink-d.co.uk/whats-on/2010/03/group-show-renegade-potters-and-extreme-craft and finally my blow-job images will be exhibited (as well my dating profiles and swearing pieces).
You can see more of Lou’s work at her website, Screaming Lulu, and maybe even purchase a piece for yourself.
Until next time keep stitching!
Joetta Maue is a full time artist primarily using photography and fibers. Her most recent work is a series of embroideries and images exploring intimacy. Joetta exhibits her work throughout the United States and internationally, and authors the art and craft blog Little Yellowbird as well as regularly contributing to the online journal Hello Craft. Joetta lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband, two cats, a goldfish and a soon-to-be baby.