THE PRECIOUSNESS OF LIFE WITH LUCY MARTIN
This month’s theme explores sustainability, calling on emerging talent to understand the importance of using sustainable products and reusable materials when designing.
Carry on reading to discover what inspires these designers on a daily basis and listen to their trend predictions around sustainability in the design industry.
INTRODUCING THE DESIGNER
Exploring creative boundaries by drawing parallels between traditional technical stitch ability and cutting-edge design, Lucy Martin is a specialist hand embroidery practitioner based in the UK. Trained at the Royal School of Needlework, Lucy is technically adept within the fields of Raised Embroidery, Goldwork and Tambour Beading amongst others. Her work is an alternative to the accepted norm of mass produced, environmentally damaging methods of bringing beautiful textiles into fruition. Her work also sits within the sector of contemporary crafts which further champions the alternative to mass production. Her pieces are designed to be treasured forever as heirlooms of the future providing longevity to both hand embroidery as an artisanal technique as well as the pieces themselves. Lucy is a versatile multi-disciplinary hand embroiderer who can work within a range of fields for any context.
Growing up near the idyllic countryside of the Peak District, I have always been surrounded by natural beauty. Capturing the feeling of serenity and peace I feel when exploring the surrounding landscape, my pieces take inspiration from mineral specimens to florals evoking a sense of place within my artwork. Using hand embroidery to create abstract forms is integral to my practice as I strive to constantly innovate and find new ways of bringing nature into my artwork through the use of innovative materials, techniques and processes. Advocating ethical and sustainable design practice through material choice and mindful production, my work explores the parallels between art and nature, questioning whether the true beauty of nature can be replicated with a needle and thread.
The negative impact humanity is having on our planet has never been clearer. At such a critical point, consumers, designers, and makers are being asked to evaluate how they can be more sustainable. On a practical level there are multiple different methods of being sustainable within the field of hand embroidery and textiles. Using mindful materials such as non-precious metals to remove the need for mining or using donated and recycled threads all help to create sustainable working practice. Using hand embroidery as a method of ‘upcycling’ garments also provides longevity.
What inspires you most on a day to day basis?
My final university project ‘The Preciousness of Life’ is a meditation on the beauty and serenity of nature married with a sense of nostalgia and family in a series of hand embroidered sculptural objects. Inspired by my garden at my family home, this personal project reflects the aspects of my life I hold most dear through the art of bespoke hand embroidery. This particular body of work comprises of a series of glass terrariums, within which sit a series of beautiful hand embroidered florals. During the COVID-19 lockdown, I moved back into my childhood home and found myself seeking solace and comfort in nature and spending time with my family. Looking back, this time spent in lockdown is no longer a time of uncertainty and fear, but a time of happiness, filled with precious memories. Family is the most important to me. My Grandad was a keen artist who painted and sketched beautiful canvases which now fill the walls of the home he shared with my Nana. Taking inspiration from his work, I have incorporated his paintings within this project create a personal narrative through the work.
What’s your go to stimulus when you start to create work?
My initial stimulus is always nature. This can encompass everything from visiting caves to wonder at minerals or a walk through a flower market to study the blooms. I find myself fascinated by the beauty of the floral forms in my garden. Using my garden as inspiration is incredibly therapeutic and allows me to focus all of my artistic energy into the creation of a bespoke artwork. Capturing the beauty of nature in an immortalised form allows me, as an artist, to keep both the stunning fragility of the floral subject and the traditions of hand embroidery practice alive.
What do you think is the most sustainable product and why?
Within the field of hand embroidery, one of my favourite techniques is Goldwork. The materials used to produce traditional Goldwork embroidery are precious and have to be mined. The mining and sourcing of precious materials is an industry infamous for its impact on the climate. Using imitation goldwork metals which contain no precious metals is much more sustainable. Another added benefit is that imitation metals don’t tarnish as easily so the pieces themselves last much longer.
How do you think trends will change as the design world becomes more sustainable?
Within fashion, I personally hope there will be a shift from purchasing new garments to giving a new lease of life to garments we already own. Using traditional and contemporary hand embroidery techniques can elevate the clothes in your wardrobe from dull to red carpet in a much more sustainable and cost effective way. Consuming less and looking after the pieces we already own is key to provide longevity to our belongings. The same can be said for interiors. Instead of discarding older items, they can be refreshed and altered with hand embroidery.