Day 20: Issy Richards

Today’s creative (@by_issy_ on Instagram) investigates methods to redefine the domestic tradition of needlework to create feminist embroidery and I cannot get enough of her work!

Please may you introduce yourself and your practice.
I’m Issy Richards, a freelance sketcher/embroiderer living in Cambridge. 

How did you develop your practice?
I did A Level art at school, and have always enjoyed it, but always questioned my ability. I’ve been sketching with pen and ink for a while, but embroidery is entirely self-taught. I started with a freehand avocado on a shirt collar, and have just been experimenting with it. Having my embroidery exhibited briefly as part of a collaboration with the New Hall Art Collection was a huge part of my development really. Being able to see my piece whilst stood in front of Tracey Emin’s & Guerrilla Girls’ was surreal and made me think – maybe I can do it!

What inspires you and why do you love your practice?
I like looking at everyday things and people; there is so much beauty in natural forms. Whether it’s figures, beautiful shapes or dappled shadows and how they fall, there’s so much to look at and take in. I love being able to see the world in real life and then see how it’s translated onto paper or fabric. 

What does it mean to you to be a creative feminist?
Hmm an interesting question, because when I started embroidering, it felt remarkably unfeminist! I think this stemmed from the historical associations of women staying at home to do delicate needlework etc. Only when I decided to draw/ embroider female figures in their original, natural, beautifully unfiltered state did I begin to see it as liberating.

Please give Issy and her striking illustrations and embroidery a wonderfully warm welcome to the community by following her page on Instagram – @by_issy_, and by commenting your thoughts below! I have loved learning about Issy’s process of revisiting and relearning this traditional practice and so, I’m delighted to share her work and practice with you!

If you would like to commission an embroidery or illustration by Issy please direct message her via Instagram.

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