I’ve recently discovered the gorgeous and very unique work of artist Louise Gardiner.
Louise’s embroidered creations are a fusion of drawing, painting, fabric and thread. And of all her floral-inspired designs, the one above is my very favourite…
She kindly answered some questions for me:
When did you start your business?
I started my business in 1994 when I graduated from Goldsmiths College in London.
I immediately started staging exhibitions but for a long time I had to support my career with other work such as teaching, working behind a bar and marketing a nightclub!
In what forms do you sell your designs?
I mainly produce original art work for exhibitions and commissions for both private and public clients.
I’m more an artist than a designer but I’m looking to expand my range of products this year as I believe the designs have commercial potential.
I sell a range of Limited Edition Prints via my website and I have my own figurative range of greetings cards published by Woodmansterne called ‘In Stitches’.
Where do you get your floral inspiration for your designs?
I collect my inspiration everywhere but I am particularly drawn to anything colourful and natural.
I occasionally take photographs when I’m out and about but most of my designs are a ‘hotch potch’ of memories which have gathered in my ‘melting pot’ of a bubbling brain.
The plants I create don’t usually have a specific reference and it’s more likely that they end up looking like something by chance.
I believe that the mind works in this way and that creativity is often a subconscious action. Your memory and imagination are amazingly resourceful if you let them wander.
I suppose I absorb information like a sponge as I’m a very observant person. I have an inquisitive mind and I often find myself wondering how things are the way they are.
Could you tell us about some of your recent commissions?
I have a waiting list which I find almost overwhelming of both large public and private commissions.
One of the pieces in progress is a large commission for a very patient client in London who saw me on ‘Kirstie’s Homemade Home’ and immediately contacted me.
However, I was in India at the time, at the end of a teaching tour so along with many other projects it was put on hold.
I had a solo show to prepare on my return so it wasn’t until November last year that I started working on this commission.
Like with all my work, I gather research and drawings to begin the process and then I let the idea wallow in the bottom drawer of my mind.
This commission is going to be a surreal tree-scape with platforms almost like a magnified Bonsai.
Each platform or land of leaves has its own little Chinoiserie house or tent. There will be lots of metallic painting and stitching and I hope that the overall effect is that of a magical landscape you can retreat to when you dream.
Could you tell us more about COLLECT?
I was selected for the Project Space at COLLECT alongside nine other installations.
I created a series of five sequential embroideries for the show (which you can see below) based on tumbleweed which acts as a metaphor for the life of an idea.
The works grow and become more and more complicated and colourful as the tumbleweed is spun by the wind and then eventually the final piece bursts into a floral explosion.
What are your plans for 2012?
I have a few workshops planned but they are all full up so I need to plan some more.
I also have many commissions to finish including a large project for Oldham Hospital.
In the future, I hope to collaborate and get out of the studio more as I’m finding the work increasingly solitary and labour intensive.
It would be great to start sharing my enthusiasm with other artists and musicians who have exciting vision and working on a larger scale.
Do you have a favourite flower?
It’s very hard to pick a favourite flower, I love them all. Nature never ceases to astound me…it’s totally magic.
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing Louise’s designs today. It was such a pleasure meeting her at COLLECT last month. And I’m absolutely delighted to hear that she has since sold four of the five embroideries.
Many congratulations also to Louise on recently being awarded the Maker of the Year Award by Craft and Design Magazine.
If you’d like to keep up-to-date with her news, she has a blog.
(Images : Louise Gardiner/Rona Wheeldon for Flowerona)