Charlotte Edey takes a new direction into the world of embroidery and framing
“I really wanted to consider the frame as a contextual or narrative device,” the artist tells us.
- Joey Levenson
- 13 April 2023
Much has changed in the world of Charlotte Edey since we last caught up with her in 2018. Her new exhibition at Ginny on Frederick, titled framework, is a serene journey through a collection of wooden frames and the evocative art they house – some textile, others illustration. Such a delicate layering of material and medium is a sign of an artist in constant development of their practice. It was after completing the post-graduate programme The Drawing Year at the Royal Drawing School between 2021 and 2022 that Charlotte tells us she experienced a “complete shift” in her work. “Drawing is very honest and revealing and I’m grateful to have had some wonderful teachers who really pushed me to understand my instincts and informed my ways of seeing,” she tells It’s Nice That. “It’s illuminating to have the patterns in your work recognised in order to reflect on them. I feel like I’m still learning and unlearning from that time.”
This latest exhibition synthesises Charlotte’s refined drawing practice with embroidery. “While beading the textile works for the show, it felt like stippling,” she explains. “Similarly, satin-stitch embroidery has such a direct relationship to hatching and even blending; layering colours to create tone. Forging this relationship between drawing and embroidery has allowed the works to really inform the other in a way I’m really excited by.” With an interest now keenly on what role “the shape or vessel” plays within her work, Charlotte moved towards framing as a way to conceptualise what actually carries and holds a piece of art. “There are recurring motifs in my work of mirrors and windows as portals to these imagined landscapes,” she says. “I'm really interested in blurring that boundary between the real and the represented, the frame and the window, or the subject and the object.”
As such, framework is a development of the motif of the window, using it as a point of departure to create a series that explores “the potency of the window as a symbolic portal”. Warm, pastel drawings, for example, are presented in Georgian nine-panel sash windows that Charlotte found herself secondhand. “I work with both handmade artist frames and found objects,” the artist explains. “Working with found objects feels really collaborative… they are inscribed with identity and contain their own narrative, memories or archetypes that I can respond to.” In this way, Charlotte is invested in discovering what it is that allows her to recognise something of herself in an object as much as she is in the art that fills said object. “A sort of specificity of place is really important to me, allowing the display to directly inform and contextualise the works rather than simply to house them,” she says.
One particular stand-out piece is Tongue Tied from 2022, made for Charlotte’s last solo exhibition Stillwater at Robert’s Gallery in Glasgow. A beautiful hinged sapele double-frame takes the appearance of a compact mirror, framing a hand-embroidered woven jacquard tapestry piece with a mirage-like moon that doubles as the frame’s freshwater pearl. “I’m interested in the idea of ‘glamour’ being explored via glamour’s etymological origins as a cast enchantment,” Charlotte explains. “The shape feels analogous to both a clam shell and an open mouth, forging a relationship with anthropomorphic ideas around bodies of water.”
Charlotte Edey: framework (Copyright @ Charlotte Edey, 2023)
About the Author
Joey is a freelance design, arts and culture writer based in London. They were part of the It’s Nice That team as editorial assistant in 2021, after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.