Susie Vickery – Celebrating Quiet Heroes

Susie Vickery is an mixed media artist who is based in London, Mumbai and China who combines embroidery, graphic storytelling and animation to produce amazing pieces of work that immortalise local icons.

Susie Vickery - Much Better
Much Better

Susie combines embroidery, graphic storytelling and animation to produce amazing pieces of work.

I worked for many years as a theatrical tailor, specialising in period menswear. After moving to Nepal I began studying embroidery and this led to a degree in embroidered textiles by distance learning, completed in 2009. I have always used my experiences in different countries as inspiration for my work. While living in Nepal I worked with women”s handicraft groups. I now work with Tibetan artisans in China and with performance artists and small theatre companies in Mumbai.”

Susie Vickery - Ironing Wallah
Ironing Wallah

“The work for my final degree show came out of my tailoring background. I wanted to look at the different working practices of tailors in various countries. I interviewed tailors in India, Nepal, Tibet and London, and illustrated the interviews in a graphic book using embroidery and fabric collage. The pages of the book are tailoring chest canvas and the page numbers are tape measures.

Susie Vickery - It's not the job, it's the cabbage
It’s not the job, it’s the cabbage

“The last tailor interviewed, Alan Selzer, spoke of the term Cabbage, used to describe the fabric left over after cutting. In my research I came across the essay “On the Melancholy of Tailors” by Charles Lamb. Written in the early 19th Century, it is a satirical essay attributing the melancholy of tailors to the fact that they sit cross-legged and eat too much Cabbage. I illustrated the essay in the form of a long panel, referencing the Bayeux Tapestry, and as an animated film.”

Susie Vickery - Icons of the Ordinary - Everydeities
Icons of the Ordinary – Everydeities

I love Susie Vickery’s work – I was fortunate enough to see it for real at the Knitting & Stitching show and I also had the pleasure of meeting Susie as well – she is utterly lovely. I was particularly drawn to the pieces that are shown in this post – Icons of the Ordinary.

Susie Vickery - Bharat Prasad Shah, Shopkeeper
Bharat Prasad Shah, Shopkeeper

These pieces feature ordinary people that Susie has encountered while living and working in Mumbai, people who would remain very anonymous in the general Indian society – Susie elevates their status to new levels by stitching these portraits.

She told me that she would create the piece and then share it with the subject, who would often be overwhelmed by the fact that someone would spend such time honouring them. It’s a terrific story.

Susie Vickery - Johori Mandel - Farmer's Wife
Johori Mandel – Farmer’s Wife

There’s something really special about embroidery’s ability to help us capture fleeting moments and people’s stories that we might otherwise miss, and dare we say it’s a fantastic antidote to the social media version of events. Whether it’s Liz Kueneke‘s crowdsourced maps, or how Gillian Bates recreates the quiet English social vernacular, stitch remains the perfect choice for quiet, yet long lasting celebration.

Susie Vickery - Johori Mandel - Farmer's Wife (detail)
Johori Mandel – Farmer’s Wife (detail)

Susie Vickery’s work combines really interesting narrative topics with excellent hand embroidery and her pieces are a visual treat. I love that she is taking the step towards animation and video and other graphic versions of storytelling with her work, and it will be interesting to see what happens next.

Susie Vickery - Mahendra Shah, Rickshaw Wallah
Mahendra Shah, Rickshaw Wallah

I would encourage you to visit Susie’s website and take the time to read the “Cabbage” book – it’s a fascinating story that is lovingly translated into graphic novel format and definitely worth a look. You can also follow Susie on Instagram to see her creative process and discover who she will celebrate next!

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