Embroidery display with a modern twist
Traditionally Contemporary Stitch is an embroidery exhibition with a modern twist.
In the field of embroidery Jo Dixey and Maree Burnnand are often viewed as the ‘young ones’, sometimes even ‘shocking’, and you can meet them in the gallery this weekend.
Both use traditional embroidery techniques with a contemporary design style. Their subjects often include the human form, although in very different ways. The pieces in this exhibition have been stitched in different parts of the country, Jo lives in Auckland and Maree is from Stratford, and in different conditions. Maree’s pieces were created to the beat of alternative rock with a lot of 90s grunge and Jo’s to a more sedate National Radio.
Both artists have won numerous awards for their work.
Jo Dixey is a professional embroiderer who trained at the Royal School of Needlework. She works on traditional commissions as well as teaching and holding exhibitions.
“I am constantly inspired by the world around me, so use traditional embroidery techniques to create contemporary stitched works that hopefully make people think.”
Jo released her first book, Stitch People in 2017. This is a project-based book for beginner embroiderers with all the designs based on people.
“This book is part of my longterm plan to convert the world, one person at a time, to love stitching!”
This collection of pieces in this exhibition have been inspired by ideas that float around in her head ‘pretty much all the time’.
“Society has many ‘boxes’ that we are expected to fit in, but in reality no one ever truly fits in a mass-produced box. We all need one designed just for us.
“We all need to find our tribe so we are surrounded by people like us rather than trying to become like the people around us. If you take on too much from the outside you lose touch with who you really are.
“We all have the right to feel comfortable in our own skin and be accepted for being us. I surprise people all the time by not looking like an embroiderer, whatever that looks like, and I love it.” Maree’s pieces are often very different from what you might expect to see at an exhibition.
Despite her choice of subject generally being slightly alternative Maree says it is the traditional aspect to embroidery that appeals to her so much.
“I love doing something that is exactly the same as it was 500 years ago. The tools haven’t changed, the techniques haven’t changed. It gives an amazing link to history,” she said.
Maree’s works are often dark, even foreboding, where death and dying is stitched in delicate detail.
“Death comes to us all. An inappropriate age is not a barrier. Gravestones provide a permanent marker but memory fades and identity abstracts.
“For a few their mark on the world will forever be indelible but for most, time will erase their footprint on earth.”
The tragic death of a young family member in the 1948 polio epidemic and the school holiday visits to tend her grave paved a permanent fascination with cemeteries, headstones and untimely death.
This collection of pieces explores these concepts fused with other passions of gothic churches, stained glass and the music that provides inspiration and a soundtrack to her daily life.
This exhibition finishes Sunday, November 11.
Maree Burnnand, second left with her sister Cheryl, and mum and dad Gay and Gary Burnnand.