London is more than just a city; it’s a tapestry of culture, history, and artistic innovation, wrapped up in an urban setting that can be as vibrant as the most colourful sculptures I’ve created. As a textile artist who has spent the better part of my life working in the comfort of my studio, I recently decided to venture out to the bustling streets of London. I have been to London before but that was a long time ago! And suddenly I find myself visiting it not just once this year, but twice already. And I do not think I am done yet ! I realised that London shook my perspective on art, aesthetics, and the very fabrics I’ve spent my life perfecting.
I remember the anticipation as my eurostar finally jolted to a halt at St Pancras. I was about to experience a city I had not seen in at least a decade. What was initially a trip to visit my brother quickly transformed into a journey of inspiration and self-discovery.
As I navigated the streets and labyrinthine mews, I was captivated by London’s rich tapestry of architectural styles. The classic, timeless appeal of the Victorian era was juxtaposed with the sleek modernity of contemporary structures. The city was an urban quilt of sorts, with each patch representing different time periods, cultural influences, and artistic expressions. This architectural mosaic actually prompted me to consider the idea of mosaicism in my textile artwork.
I am a forest person, mostly. Yet I found an unexpected harmony in London. The city’s artistry is not confined to museums and galleries; it is present in the streets, buildings, markets…
I always considered my work as distinct from urban or modern aesthetics. I was concerned that my intricate pieces would be lost or misinterpreted against a backdrop of concrete and steel. But, London taught me otherwise. I started photographing my artwork against the urban settings, from the graffiti-coated walls of Shoreditch to the immaculate lawns of Hyde Park. To my surprise, to my astonishment even, my creations didn’t vanish; they thrived. They took on new life, new meanings, becoming a part of the cityscape while standing out in their own right.
The contrast was striking. The organic, tactile qualities of my textiles provided a breath of fresh air in the urban jungle, creating an engaging interplay between the natural and the constructed, the old and the new, the soft and the hard. These photographs marked a stark departure from my usual presentation style, and they made me realise something crucial: my work was good. Not just in the seclusion of a gallery or the comforts of my studio or my home, but also in the wild, unexpected landscapes of a bustling city.
London, in its eclectic charm and unending dynamism, invited me to view my work from an entirely new perspective. It reminded me that art isn’t bound by the confines of a studio or a specific aesthetic. It can exist and prosper anywhere, from the quiet countryside to the busiest metropolis. I did not expect this renewed sense of artistic purpose, this burning desire to create, experiment, and explore further.