Undoubtedly, the best part of this year's Knitting and Stitching Show was the Pfaff Embroidery Challenge Exhibition. It was mind boggling, beyond my wildest expectations, and included juried works by an international selection of completely professional fiber artists. No photography was permitted in this area.
I found the prospectus for the show here. This is a biennial. This year's theme was "Still Life". I unfortunately didn't buy a catalog, but here are some of the things I noted while gaping open-mouthed at the amazing work.
Genevieve Attinger's La Chemise Fantasmee blurred the lines between being 2-D and 3-D. It was brilliantly conceived and perfectly executed.
This is not the piece in the exhibit but one found on-line.
Annette McMasters of South Africa interpreted "still life" with exceptional free motion embroidery inspired by outsider art. She's won top prizes from Bernina too.
Cindy Hickok, USA, blended her realistic stitches of a man asleep with his dog on a Victoria sofa under an equally realistic "framed" still life onto paper with colored pencil details. The result was amazing...a still life of still lives; a frame within a frame; realism in stitching transitioning to traditional art on paper. It was brilliant. I found images of her other embroideries and artist's statement here.
The subtly of Marialuise Sponga's yellow leaves intrigued me. The work was created as folding screen made of heavy paper. Leaf-shaped slits revealed a yellow, plastic backing. Each opening was carefully stitched in gold threads. What I liked best, however, was the pricking of the paper...stitching without thread. Her website is here.
Carole Pitt's Encore looked like delicate flowers in decay. It used threadbare silk, tulle, and what seemed like tea-stained pattern paper. Lola Greenwich used photos of pumpkins printed on tarlatane. So often digital images don't really melt into the fabric...but they sure did here! The work hung as a panel of screens, layers of fabric and photos, detail of pumpkins with stitching. It was beautiful.
I admired Noemie Quelo's programmed satin stitches on acetate. Everyone simply stared in disbelief at the incredible, 3D stitched chocolates on dessert trays beside totally edible looking tortes topped off with stemmed cherries...complete with silverware...all by Rowena Charlton of Australia. Because I don't use computerized machine embroidery patterns, I'd never heard of Rowena...but she's evidently the absolute TOPS in this field and her piece was equally TOPS.
Jacqueline Bogg's combined sheer chiffon like material with opaque felt like material in perfect harmony. Louise Gardiner successfully stitched the details of her painted canvas called "Louise Gardiner...Makes Exceedingly Good Cake". It was whimsically delightful. Maija Brummer of Finland took pre-printed leaves and leaf shaped pieces of material and free motion embroidered them beautifully together on what must have been some sort of water soluble material. The result was lacy and included spiders' webs, a few butterflies, and other interesting insects. The work was denser at the top to hide the hanging device and also denser at the bottom to provide weight.
(Above: Escargots by Catherine Pascal)
I could appreciate the meticulous stitching over wire that was made by New Zealand's Sarah Battersby. Catherine Pascal's Escargots showed supreme control with a heat gun. The heat transfer painted organza and velvets were free motion stitched and perfectly zapped...knowing just what to leave alone and just what to burn out. (Catherine's website is here.)
Sian Martin incorporated words stitched on water soluble paper. Susanne Gregg and Patricia Resseguie, both of the USA, stitched on water soluble fabrics too. Elisabeth Straubhaar of France managed to free motion stitch into pastels over acrylic on paper until it truly resembled birch bark.
All in all, it was one of the best displays of contemporary embroidery I've ever seen. I've provided a few links...just in case I need inspiration one day! Any one of these cyber places has more than enough ideas...just like I felt when leaving the Pfaff Challenge. What's really important, however, was that I didn't seem to want to "try" some new technique. I was really inspired at the quality of the stitching and the personal journeys that were so obviously part of each artist's work.