Danielle Clough is making her mark on Instagram for her fresh-yet-nostalgic embroidery work. Phumlani Sithebe Langa catches up with her
Young artist Danielle Clough has become a hit on Instagram for taking a medium that most would associate with elderly aunties and breathing a gust of vibrant energy into it. Her work is an explosion of colour gleaned from a sewing needle.
Of course, she isn’t the only South African artist to trade in the reinvention of embroidery as a serious art form. Performance artist Athi-Patra Ruga has for some years been creating dark and exquisite tapestries that elevate curio themes to high art.
This week, Clough told #Trending she draws inspiration from the novelty of things – new experiences, new people and new colours viewed in different light settings and different contexts. But why embroidery? “I have always been around sewing. My mother used to make clothes, and, while studying, I would make plush toys for money. The first thread sketch I created was through a series of opportunities and mistakes. Working at a gallery once, with idle hands, I had nothing but cotton, a needle and a scrap piece of felt – so I started to draw a rabbit. This slowly grew into a portrait, and I kept experimenting ... My choice in subject matter typically stems from an idea of a colour palette or an image I have taken.”
She told us Instagram has played a major role in her career so far: “It’s been a massive influence. Using Instagram as a way to leverage your artistry is something that we’re seeing with a lot of South African creatives, most of whom will tell you it has helped accelerate their careers.”
She said the majority of her work is sold through Instagram, which had also introduced her to a wider international embroidery community and led to a lot of commissions from international clients – a network that would have taken her years to cultivate without the social network.
Her best-known work? “A standout is a portrait based off a shoot I did of the artist Petite Noir for Rolling Stone magazine.”
She views it as a turning point in terms of her technique.
“I also love the tennis rackets because they’re different, a little eccentric and a blatant ode to bursting forms of bright colour!”
View and commission her work on Twitter or Instagram at @fiance_knowles, or
visit her website at danielleclough.com
WHAT A RACKET 2 PETITE NOIR IN COTTON Danielle Clough made plush toys for money while she was studying
One of Dolce & Gabbana’s offerings
WHAT A RACKET TULIP