Project description

My process is a decompartmentalization of myself and my skin, exploring the colour, texture and pattern of my eczema flare. This has helped me to see what is on my skin as separate to what is within me. What started as using embroidery to recreate organic shapes and patterns, inspired by moss, land formations and my skin flares, turned into a deeper, more abstract exploration into materiality and texture.

Working with needle, thread and fabric is a tactile, meditative approach which helps keep my hands in harness, occupied and distracted from the itch. This is a central element to my process, and I made a conscious choice to hand sewing each of my projects. This has allowed a longer amount of time to hold and feel the materials, similar to the lengthy time it takes for skin to heal.

When exploring how to display my work in a gallery context, I wanted to suggest my relationship to the work.  To capture this, I was drawn to photography and film. These mediums allowed me to capture the moments where I am held by my work, the fabric draping over my body, to draw a direct visual connection between my embroidered textiles and the eczema on my skin.

With lengths of fabric being the same size as me and my choice to use fragile and translucent fabrics link again back to my body in a subtle way.

When finding my colour palette, I have used reference images from a vast collection of photographs I have taken over time of my flared skin. A range of colours from pale pinks, deep reds, burnt oranges and rusty browns I have been exploring how these colours can express the narrative of damaged and inflamed skin healing overtime.

Patchwork quilt, embroidered and hand dyed squares expand
‘I Wake, Held Within Wildfire’162 x 77cm, (left) front, (right) back, cotton, embroidery thread, paper, linen
Top section of patchwork quilt
Top section of patchwork quilt
Middle section of patchwork quilt expand
Middle section of patchwork quilt
Bottom section of patchwork quilt expand
Bottom section of patchwork quilt
Back detailing of quilt
Back detailing of patchwork quilt
Back detailing of quilt expand
Photograph series of me wrapped within the quilt expand
Photograph series of me wrapped within the quilt
A stitched series, depicting two phases of my skin expand
Itch and Heal, a series
Depicting the tension and obviousness of itchy flares expand
‘Itch’ 50 x 40cm, linen, cotton thread
showing the subtle but visible signs of healed scaring. expand
‘Heal’ 50 x 40cm, linen, cotton thread
embroidered patterns and photograph of skin flares expand
‘Untitled’ Photograph and embroidered cotton fabric
Embroidered cheese cloth dipped in latex expand
‘Skin Shawl’ cotton thread, cheesecloth, latex

Holly Gwendoline Powers

I Wake, Held Within Wildfire