A recent snoop in our secondhand bookshop brought to light a book of paintings by the American poet Elizabeth Bishop*. I was immediately interested, because I have a great curiosity for artists who write, poets who paint, painters who embroider... the rich exchange of medium and mood experienced by so many artists over the centuries. It's fascinating to find that an artist or writer you know for their work in one discipline turns out to have been active in a quite different area of expression.
Of course, women artists have often done this instinctively through domestic textiles and decoration of the home environment, indeed the home has traditionally been the sole provider of surfaces for embellishment and opportunities for creative expression for those many many women who have been denied a more focussed outlet. However noble or humble the setting, I just love how creativity oozes out of artists and writers like mud through the fingers: it's unstoppable. Vanessa Bell's work at Charleston Farmhouse is a wonderful example.
I learnt from a book about one of my favourite painters, Mary Fedden*, that she also makes what she calls 'little soft lions' for new babies... exquisite embroidery and wonderful tactile shapes that call out to be held tightly in tiny hands. I shall post a couple of snaps of them taken from the book although of course they are copyright, but I think they deserve to be better known and I think many of you will love them, as I do.
* William Benton, Exchanging Hats: Elizabeth Bishop Paintings. Carcanet, 1996
* Christopher Andrae, Mary Fedden: Enigmas and Variations. Lund Humphries, 2007
All images are copyright of the artists and mustn't be reproduced except, as here, for personal use, and without due credit.