Welcome to the Cutting (& Stitching) Edge, where we showcase people whose embroidered creativity is fresh and new!
Nade Simmons aka Orbrey And The Modist is a mixed media artist from the UK. Her vibrant hand embroidered embroideries are packed with texture, colour and energy, and are truly refreshing!
“My hoops are created to a backdrop of my partner DJing Drum & Bass and our toddler running sand through the house. Since lockdown we’ve adapted my space into our space, so I am very grateful that I live so close to some beautiful meadow walks with streams and rivers snaking through.
“I create abstract textile art using crewel embroidery, sometimes with acrylic or watercolour paint or merino wool underneath. It is a very tactile medium, I sew a variety of stitches over many hours to create texture, depth and dimension. I use a plethora of different yarns, from chunky wool to fine machine threads, layering them up to create a myriad of colours. I also use plenty of beads, sequins and jewellery. Most of my supplies are clothing and accessories sourced second hand from vintage markets and emporiums. I disassemble them and recreate them into something new and beautiful.
“It’s important to me that my work is created sympathetically to the environment which I am recreating. I have a great fondness for the history of pre worn pieces – the idea of different stories being brought together in a hoop for a time is satisfying to the romantic bit of my mind!
“My pieces are fun, playful and are made to recreate the feeling of those countryside rambles. I don’t seek to create an accurate representation, ( I’ll leave that to the thread painters!), it’s simply impressionistic. There is no hidden narrative to my work, aside from the fact that I am environmentally conscious and quite particular about creating sustainable art, the pieces themselves are purely aesthetic. I capture the movement of grasses and water with bright, swirling colours and tactile stitches layered together to create an abstract and energetic landscape. I also love to throw the odd flash of neon in there, like a rebellious piece of graffiti. Maybe it’s the Drum and Bass rubbing off on me.“
We wanted to find out more about Orbrey’s obsession and her creative process so we hit her with a few Qs!
How did your technique evolve?
My technique largely evolved through a mix of inherent impatience, lack of time and old fashioned trial & error. I am a huge advocate of play and experimentation, I believe that mistakes and play are crucial to the development of personal style.
My background is in mixed media, I Studied Applied and Media Arts mostly using collage, print, paint and a little machine embroidery. As soon as I picked up a needle and hoop it resonated so strongly with me and I have stitched daily without fail ever since.
I had just had a new baby so in amongst the baby wipes and sleepless nights I immersed myself in online tutorials, podcasts and sewing groups, grappling with new stitches any moment I could. This was critical to how my sewing developed into the abstract freestyle it is today. I literally had sewing hoops stashed around the house, car and buggy and I would sew really really fast , trying to capture a swath of colour and a feeling of movement in just a few minutes. This way of stitching also meant I could work across a series at once, so if something really worked I could immediately push it further on the next hoop.
Having achieved a good grasp on stitching, I wanted to incorporate some other techniques so I began cutting up old canvases that I had painted and reassembling those into bright collages and adding stitch and beading on top. In this way I was able to add in the neons that I loved whilst still developing the textures. This really honed my colour palette and developed my personal style.
Where do you think your creativity is taking you?
I feel very strongly that it’s taking me to a place of self confidence within my work. I realised recently that I have felt quite pressured that I am ‘doing it wrong’ – embroidery has such a wonderful, unique history and heritage, and is steeped in such tradition – It’s almost as if you can feel the weight of that when you pick up a needle. It’s like a responsibility. Within that there has to be room to grow and I feel ready to push back at those self imposed boundaries.
Recently I have been creating much larger pieces on square canvases and am developing a much looser style incorporating graphite, watercolour and acrylic. Bolder stitches with thicker threads and brighter colours are appearing, the pieces show spontaneity and convey more fluidity, invoking a sense of movement that is relatable to everyone on some level.
What other artists inspire you?
My all time favourite artist is Patrick Heron – I never tire of looking at his work. I love the way he conveys so magnificently the use of non figurative colours. How he captures them so they appear to float is mesmerising to me. I also carry a fondness toward his work in that he was also a textile designer!
Cy Twombly is also a huge influence, his energetic, slightly violent lines remind me so much of when I first start a hoop – it’s a feeling, something swift that you just have to get out. His dynamic mark making is something I am always trying to capture in my own way.
I also find Matthew Downham’s work really resonates with me – there is something about the way he uses stitch for stitches sake that I find so inspiring. His Bears are not there to be cute, or neatly sewn, they’re ironic, primal and fascinating.
What is your favourite tool to use in your practise?
Very early on in my sewing I bought a large jar of vintage threads from a market and inside was a pair of stork scissors and a beautiful battered tin which ironically would originally have held plasters. It was full of lovely old needles of every shape and size I could possibly wish for and it’s my favourite bit of kit both for its whimsy and practicality.
Can you share a creative tip?
Play, experiment, push boundaries, do it often and don’t stop. Mistakes are where the magic lies.
Are you at the Cutting (& Stitching) Edge? Do you know of an artist that we should feature? Get in touch!
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