Michelle Kingdom uses embroidery to explore “psychological landscapes”, by creating worlds entirely out of thread. “I am interested in identity and relationships and how our perceptions, particularly filtered through the lens of our psyche, shape our reality,” explains Michelle. The artist mainly depicts groups of people, often with a spiritual vibe to them through the ritualistic actions of her characters.
“Each piece is a synthesis of several key elements including memories, relationships, photographs, literature, personal mythology, art history and imagination,” says Michelle. “My own personal experiences ultimately drive the concepts. Though each piece is unique and stands on its own, I view them all as vignettes within a larger, more complete body of work.”
The relationship between her artworks is emphasised through colour choice and the often haunting atmosphere present in them. Michelle’s work is about human experience with figurative elements which allows her to explore different ideas about the stories we share and the history we create.
Michelle’s process is lengthy with each piece starting in the form of research and multiple sketches until the concept is clear. Once the basic outline is transferred onto fabric, the stitching is done with a “dense, intuitive, fluid approach and each piece stays in flux until the very end”.
“I prefer to draw with thread rather than plot technical, traditional embroidery stitches,” says Michelle. “I make room for experimentation and unexpected discovery along the way.” Her embroidered pieces are delicate, full of texture and oddly mesmerising, and it’s fascinating to see such depth being created with this technique.
“My initial interest in hand embroidery began while in college, where I studied traditional fine art. At that time the art scene felt like a closed world, mostly focused on large, conceptual and impossibly clever work,” she says. “I began what was essentially drawing with thread as a refuge away from all that, stitching purely for self-expression and exploration.
“There was just something beautifully fragile, odd and otherworldly about the medium. Figurative embroidery seemed tailor made for expressing secret thoughts.”
About the Author
Rebecca became staff writer at It’s Nice That in March 2016 before leaving the company at the end of 2017. Before joining the company full time she worked with us on a freelance basis many times, as well as stints at Macmillan Publishers, D&AD, Dazed and frieze.