karen nickell
artist statement
free machine process

As a visual artist I am intrigued by the ‘fundamental interconnectedness of all things’ and it is these connections within literature, nature, science, memory and visual perception that keep my artistic concepts and processes evolving. My inspiration comes from moments when time, place, light and mood conspire to reveal the world more intensely than usual, when the real merges with imagination and storytelling to become a magical reality.

I use the traditional craft technique of embroidery as a starting point and transform it, not by hybrid combinations but sequentially in discrete layers by pushing the work through multiple processes, media and disciplines.  The results are surprising and ambiguous and question any fixed reading of the work as textiles, painting, photography or sculpture.  My practice explores tensions of scale, reality, illusion, representation, abstraction, 3-dimensional physicality and evanescent immateriality - and involves the viewer in the experience.

The process begins on the sewing machine which I run at full speed so the thread flows freely from the needle like ink from a pen. By adjusting the speed and rhythm of my hand movements I can draw with the thread and let it flow or build up densely, or pull the bottom thread to the surface to spark one colour off another.

The finished embroideries are digitally transformed into transitory, insubstantial projections of light. A veil of lenses refracts the light from the projections and transmogrifies them into a kaleidoscopic myriad of images, large and small, drifting in and out of focus and shifting orientation as you move around them, with a holographic 3-dimensional quality that confuses the eye.

The original embroideries are installed in ‘Magical Reality Boxes’ - miniature, intimate worlds that are viewed through a magnifying peep-hole. This focuses and distorts the stitched surface, intensifying the 3-dimensional physicality and tactility of the surface while simultaneously denying touch. Internal configurations of mirrors move the artworks toward abstraction and illusion and suggest the co-existence of simultaneous realities.

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© Karen Nickell 2012