For celebrated Newcastle, Australia-based artist Meredith Woolnough, a simple sewing machine is enough to transform inanimate materials into masterpieces bursting with life.
“I employ a similar process to traditional machine darning where the feed teeth are turned off, giving you complete control about how you move the base fabric under the needle,” she says.
Working with a fine polyester thread and a water-soluble base fabric, Woolnough creates stunning embroidered sculptures that mimic intricate details found in nature. After completing her embroidered design, the artist washes the base fabric away to leave her “skeleton of stitches” behind. Then, she carefully pins it onto a board, “reminiscent of a preserved specimen,” she says.
These lifelike creations are held internationally in public, private and corporate collections. Meredith’s research consists of exploring the world around her, including the underwater realm, through scuba diving.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the structure of things, from the hard shapes of coral colonies to the minute arterial veins in leaves,” she reflects. “I like to draw parallels between the growth and life systems of various organisms in my work, commenting upon the interconnectedness of all living things.”
After discovering freehand machine embroidery in her final year of university, Meredith says she spent the next year playing with the process. “That experimentation has paved the way for all of my work since. My process involves using a domestic sewing machine as an unconventional drawing tool.”
Meredith admires other artists and designers that explore intricacies of the natural world, such as Andy Goldsworthy, Bronwyn Oliver, Michelle McKinney and Kate MccGwire. The artist feels lucky to make a living doing what inspires her, and hopes to exhibit more widely in the future.
“I love that I get to create beautiful things that I am proud of every day,” she says. “What more can an artist ask for?”
Learn more at www.meredithwoolnough.com.