Every year, Hand & Lock organizes a competition for the prestigious Prize for Embroidery to promote the use of hand embroidery and to discover emerging embroidery talent. The 2018 brief invited entrants to “celebrate culture, gender and individual heritage in the global atmosphere of transformation.” They were asked to make their work “stand for something bigger than itself conveying a meaningful message relevant to the transient state of the world today.”
London’s Bishopsgate Institute hosted the final judging and award ceremony for the 2018 Hand & Lock Prize for Embroidery.
Today we’ll meet the first-place winner in the Textile Open Category.
Name: Silvia Perramon Rubio
Describe your Hand & Lock entry and what motivated it:
I was fascinated by the existence of a platform that supports embroidery and embroiderers from long time ago, and most of all that was not just focused in fashion but also in art.
Are there any secrets you can now reveal about your entry?
I started this project 3 years ago and since it is not just an embroidery but a breakdown of my career life process, it was totally adaptable for this entry.
You have a degree in architecture. How did you get from there to couture embroidery?
I love using my hands as a direct connection from my brain to the creation, and with computers I feel there is an element that interrupts this A-B connection. I started experimenting with fabrics and embroidery materials during my first years living in New York City and what was a passion at the beginning became a full time job. Art is still art in architecture, or fashion, so for me, is just expressing myself through a visual material media.
What prompted this change of direction?
It was natural.
My job in The Funk Files is to interview “pioneers on the embroidery frontier.” That’s you! What is the embroidery frontier, and what does it mean to be a pioneer here?
I think the frontier is to change the classical vision/mentality. An embroiderer is an artist, is not just an employee doing the same work for hours just to produce something that a big company needs in a very short time. I am currently experimenting this change around me, still people don’t understand that The Embroiderer can also design not just produce.
I feel like my coworkers already look at me different, also my family and friends, also me. For me its been a long path to discover, to understand and to learn. I feel that I do not know what I really know where to arrive I just need to experiment paths, with different people and different fields. Everything I do, I do it wit passion and all my energy, so as an explorer with my own life, I am also an explorer with embroidery.
Some of your latest work involves embroidered animals. What can you tell us about that?
Embroidering animals is a very challenging project I am currently doing. Not just because of the shape but the textures; each animal has a different type of skin, shell or mucous, and to find the right material is a deep process of understanding and analyzing each detail and movement. It is beautiful to discover directions, dimensions, patterns, color palettes and also hardness or softness, little things. To create them, I am not buying any new material at all, just finding stuff I already have at home, like the net of the oranges for the body of the crab or the shoes cordons for the legs of the ant or some pieces of wool of an old jumper for the skin of the neck of the turtle. I am not just representing nature, but reinterpretation my own way. I am not even designing it first, it is just a direct connection from brain to hand. I want at the same time to express what I see and what makes me feel, so it is in the same line of the faces project, analyze to create my art.
Where else can we see your work?
I currently work for a Great Couture brand in Milan as an Embroiderer, and I’ve been also freelancing for different brands. As you know working in a big brand your work is not anymore your work, it is a team work which is also beautiful. The work on my website, is just my personal artwork.
What projects are on the horizon for you?
Any. I always have projects, the more I embroider, the more I think, the more I create.
Out of the creative area, I’ve taught Luneville lessons in New York City, and one day I would love to have a small school to organize workshops giving an official certificate, but at the same time still creating and designing my own art.
What one piece of advice would you offer someone looking to expand his/her embroidery skills?
Practice a lot of hours, we are good in what we do every day, repetition is the key to perfection.
Rapid-fire Round: (Don’t think too hard about these.)
You can work with just one color for the next year. What color do you choose? Red.
What stitchable motif would you choose to represent you and your life? An Ant.
You’ve lived in many places. Name a favorite. Why was/is it a favorite? A church. I was the new girl in town coming from the big city.
You must include something edible in your next piece. What do you use, and how do you incorporate it? A hamburger, many layers to work with and different textures and some sauces that could dye my fabrics.
If you were not an artist, what would you be? A butcher.
Whaaaaat? Where did that come from?
Well, my grandmother was a butcher, she had to survive a war, and I admire it. Its something that I’ve been very impressed with when I used to go with my mother and grandmother to buy meat for dinner.
How many languages do you speak (and which ones)? Five: Spanish, Catalan, English, Italian and some German
You must create a garment or accessory for an animal. What is the animal, and what do you create? I don’t think an animal need a garment or accessory, but if I had to make an illustration I would create a big bag for birds so the can carry faster their branches for the nests.
Favorite material to work with: Wood
We’re hosting a show of “performance embroidery.” Describe your piece in the event. Something related with the light, I would create an textile that modifies the light by itself, while it’s moving.
Describe your dream commission. What and for whom is it? A collaboration with an architect.
Jen Funk Weber is Queen of Funk & Weber Designs, a cross stitch and counted-thread embroidery designer and teacher dedicated to stitchy explorations and adventures.