Enthralling embroideries by Michelle Kingdom
The intricate embroideries of Michelle Kingdom map the unconscious longings and fears, and examine the possible inner experiences, impulses or external pressures that shape the human psyche, also affecting the relationship with the other.
Two factors seem to play key roles in the artist’s insightful work. Time preserves personal histories through memory, either pleasant or bitter. One cannot turn back time, repair or at least intervene in what has already been said and done, it is restrictive and haunting, a mirror of our naked selves, of our secrets and vulnerabilities. In There was no going back, a woman carries a caged bird as she moves forward to a new beginning. Freedom is never absolute, and the past can never be changed, nor be completely forgotten. We cannot shine until we face our shadows, overcome the precipices of who we are.
Secondly, there are the social standards and rules we follow in order to be accepted and praised. The dressing room apparently brings this into discussion – female figures get dressed with new identities, probably more likeable than those hiding underneath the nice clothing. In They wouldn’t feel a thing, a woman is getting a make-up fix, while others wait in line. They all wear pink dresses and high heels, a kind of uniform, enforcing the fashion stereotypes of being pretty and desirable. Does it matter if it physically and psychologically hurts to be a product or to pretend?
My work explores psychological landscapes, illuminating thoughts left unspoken. I create tiny worlds in thread to capture elusive yet persistent inner voices. Literary snippets, memories, personal mythologies, and art historical references inform the imagery; fused together, these influences explore relationships, domesticity and self-perception. Symbolism and allegory lay bare dynamics of aspiration and limitation, expectation and loss, belonging and alienation, truth and illusion.
Since Michelle Kingdom is interested in the investigation of private thoughts and emotions, she has chosen to create small scale works, to whisper untold truths rather than shout them. And embroidery is the medium she felt was the best to share such powerful stories.
Considered decorative and outdated until recent years, embroidery is gradually finding its place in the art world. Not as a replica of traditional painting or drawing, but as a complex and unique art form that artists like Michelle Kingdom have proven it to be.
While the work acknowledges the luster and lineage inherent in needlework, I use thread as a sketching tool in order to simultaneously honor and undermine this tradition. Beauty parallels melancholy, as conventional stitches acquiesce to the fragile and expressive.
There was no going back, 2017
Leaving no relics, 2017
They wouldn’t feel a thing, 2016
The dressing room, 2016
Time makes knots, 2016
Headlong Over Precipices, 2015
Video: bG Gallery
Images © Michelle Kingdom