Mathilde Renes is a textile artist from Haarlem in the Netherlands whose hand embroideries playfully capture everyday moments.
Since 1997 Mathilde has kept an illustrated diary and these sketches have inspired her embroidered work. While the immediate inspiration is spontaneous, she curates her work into series including Close Encounters, Singing and Sweet Memories; the latter is a poignant reflection on the passing of Wilma, a lifelong friend.
How did your technique evolve?
When I first started with my diary based embroideries I actually did the same as I did in my diary aquarelles (watercolour sketches), drawing black lines and afterwards filling them in with colour with satin stitch or sometimes I tried French knots or chainstitch. I didn’t think much but just filled the lines and “painted” with needle and thread.
Meanwhile I did learn more about the different stitches, for example by joining the Textile Artist Stitch Club and discovered that the stitches I used randomly all had names!
But now you ask me I do realise I’m still stitching random what I like, more meditative and do not think about all the different stitches I’ve learned.
And in my other textile work I’ve discovered fray check and water-soluble fibre, but I think I still get an idea and just collect some material from my stock and start and see wherever it leads to.
Often I use pictures (most of them from my own work) on transfers to start with. So not much changed in all these years since 2014 when I started stitching (actually my first textile artwork before 2014 were knitted vases and busts).
Where do you think your creativity is taking you?
I have always been busy creating, although because of our moving to a new home last year (I used to live on a houseboat) which was a very stressy and busy period, it was a bit less than usual.
Last year I created though a mid century inspired interior with embroidery and appliqué which I loved to do. I think it was inspired by the thought of a new home and we started to look for a new house to live in.
And by sorting out our stuff before packing I found some old paintings which inspired me to try them in embroidery.
During our moving period I did only a few small pieces about interiors and two pieces with the theme Love, because I took part in the annual exposition route in Haarlem which this year had this motto. I used workcloths as a layer and thread and pencils.
During the move, we had to stay for a couple of weeks in a holiday home. I had nearly all my materials packed, so only took a bag with some pieces of linen and DMC and a needle with me plus my diary with aquarelle and some pastel pencils.
But, now my studio finally is a sort of ready to start working there, I can’t wait to begin and no doubt a new creative period will follow. I’ve always had a new idea coming up while finishing the piece I was working on, so I’m convinced this will happen again.
What other artists inspire you?
There are too many to mention here, but to name some:
Can you share one creative tip for our readers?
Do what you like, don’t think of what someone else would think of what you’re doing.
When something goes wrong in your opinion, don’t panic but maybe it gives you an opportunity to actually make things better, more surprising. Serendipity can give you a lot of fun and satisfaction after all.
And if you like this type of documentary work then you’ll love the vignettes of BRO.