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j u r o r:
carol naylor
t h e    w o r k

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A Stitch in Time

J U R O R ' S   I N F O 

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about carol naylor, artist and curator

Carol Naylor is an internationally renowned textile artist, curator and teacher who specialises in free motion machine embroidery. She studied at Goldsmiths School of Art, London UK where she gained a BA honours and a Postgraduate Diploma in Textile Art. She  lectured for some years before becoming a fulltime artist, a decision she’s never regretted. 

Curating and mounting exhibitions has been a significant part of her work over the years, from graduate shows when she lectured full time, to professional shows. She is a Fellow of the Society of Designer Craftsmen which was founded in 1887 as the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, with William Morris amongst the distinguished forbears. She chaired the Society for several years, and for many years co-curated the annual winter exhibition in one of London’s premier exhibition spaces, the Mall Galleries (a few minutes’ walk up the road to the Queen’s residence).

In 2012 she also co-curated the exhibition Everyday Encounters at the newly refurbished William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, London. These experiences have given her real insight into the importance of preparation, presentation, and in following the rules set out for artists. She is constantly amazed at how many artists fail to submit work in accordance with the guidelines.

Solo exhibitions include the Knitting and Stitch shows in Birmingham, London, Dublin and Harrogate, and galleries in Chichester, Torrington, Newport IoW, Hastings and Lisbon, Portugal.  She has had two person exhibitions with Alice Kettle, Albert Naylor and with other artists.  As well as taking part in numerous exhibitions in the UK and in Europe her work can currently be viewed at Primavera, Cambridge and at her studio.  Teaching and lecturing includes Chichester University, and she has worked as a guest lecturer in Minnesota USA and in New Zealand. Carol gives talks, workshops and residencies for guilds and other groups and will be returning to Chicago in 2018 to teach.. She has particular interests in Art in the Healthcare environment and in education.  Carol has written many articles for magazines, her work features in numerous publications, and she also helps administrate a Facebook page called Textile Arts, a unique online gallery where both aspiring and professional artists can showcase work.


about her work

Intensive, continual stitching changes the base fabric from a flat surface to one that moves and undulates with its own unique quality. Some pieces include finely stitched details and felted fibres or fragments of other materials to provide contrasts. She finds that this technique gives her a more painterly approach to textile art, with the sewing machine needle providing the marks a paintbrush or pencil would make, and the richly coloured threads offering a wide and exciting palette.  "My work is about the exploration of surface and mark making. The surface of the fabric that I stitch onto is manipulated and changed by the techniques I employ, and the surface of the land provides me with visual stimuli that I seek not to emulate, but to investigate. Qualities of light and colour observed on land and over water and shadows with strongly contrasting shafts of light are explored through these heavily stitched surfaces that undergo subtle changes depending on the onlooker's point of view."

Originally hoping to study painting, she was offered a place on the textiles degree route instead.  "At first I really did not like what I was doing, but gradually realized that I could use needle and thread as an alternative way of drawing. It took a while for me to really fall in love with my new medium but I always say now it was the best “second best” I could ever have had!"

She creates unique, one off pieces by stitching directly onto painter’s canvas working mainly on the reverse side of the fabric, so she is literally working “blind.” She then turns to the right side, redefining and adding finer details.


about textile art

 What Carol finds so exciting, is the way textile art is now perceived and accepted within the wider art world in the 21st century. She says-

"In 1999 I wrote an article for a UK magazine wondering if we would ever see textile art in major international galleries, and there have indeed been real advances in the 21st century. For example, Tate Modern in London, one of the most visited galleries in the world, now showcases artists using the medium of textiles as a principal component in their work. A great example is Louise Bourgeois, who crossed the traditional boundaries of Fine Art by incorporating clothes and fabrics in her works, referencing life experiences that could only be expressed in this way.

Contemporary textiles clearly have their roots in the home. Many textile artists began by helping a grandmother or mother to make things for house and home, and this love of, and involvement with, fabrics and their inherent tactile qualities led to using these skills in their art. So many people want to touch our work, yet you rarely see visitors touching the surface of a painting. Textile art now encompasses so much. The stitch truly is an alternative way of mark making, as valid as the marks made by a paintbrush or chisel. Threads and fabrics respond to light, adding another dimension, casting shadows, adding different 3D qualities, things that don’t occur in conventional art media. We can paint, dye or print on fabrics, enhance or change images through digital processes, we can sculpt, distress, incorporate found media, the opportunities are endless. Above all, textile art now has its own clear identity and with new technologies being developed all the time, the scale and inventive possibilities for the future are endless.

Being a juror for an online exhibition like “A Stitch in Time” at least means that physical space won’t be a worry!"