In her monochrome embroideries, Roanna Wells substitutes people with stitches and in doing so offers us stunning, often dramatic, new perspectives on human gatherings.
How would you describe your work?
I describe myself as a fine artist using graphical stitch. I’ve always been reluctant to use the phrase ‘textile artist’ as I feel this brings up so many preconceived ideas about the medium, so I definitely place myself within the fine art world and the context of contemporary drawing. My work uses the mark-making quality of hand embroidery to depict detailed aspects of imagery and pattern.
What inspires you?
I’m both technically and conceptually inspired as an artist, having produced work which is either purely process led and abstract and that which has a deeper sense of context either socially or politically. My most recent series of works, entitled Interpersonal Spatial Arrangements, depict abstract representations of individual human forms within crowds as seen from above.
Inspiration for these is not only taken from the geographical context and current topical relevance of the image, but also the aesthetic composition of the emerging patterns.
In 2013 I worked on a huge embroidery for the Jerwood Makers Open. The funding allowed me to travel to India and commission specific aerial photography over the Kumbh Mela religious gathering in February. It is the world’s largest gathering of people and attracted over 60 million pilgrims to bathe in the Ganges over the month-long festival. My work for the Jerwood Makers depicted the crowd that gathered on the most auspicious bathing day.
What’s your workspace like?
I have a studio at S1 Artspace and it is on the side of the building that receives the most wonderful afternoon and evening sunlight. It’s a beautiful space that provides me a little creative haven to mix with other artists and make work. My process is very time consuming, so the light and comfort of my studio space is very important.
Read the full interview here. Original text by Kathryn Hall, 30 September 2015