Rowena Dring is a lifelong friend and artist based in Amsterdam. Last week I spent the day with her in her studio. We pulled out a selection of her works and went behind the scenes to talk about her inspiration. I asked her if she always knew she would be an artist. Her family labelled her as an artist early on and despite her own reservations about how helpful that label was, nearly 30 years later she is still most at home in her studio, pushing herself to make new work and see new horizons.
Rowena's work is a combination of stitching and paint, originally inspired by the traditional "women's work" of quilting. Many of her works are monumental, bringing the vast landscapes of Joshua Tree, Ireland, rural France and more intimate water reflections onto canvas and into our lives. Working with textiles has become a popular art form, which Rowena has pioneered since the 1990's.
Rowena traces the images onto tracing paper and then transfers the outlines to canvas, where she will work her magic with paint, cotton, stitching or a combination of them. She uses her own photographs and other pictures as the underlying inspiration and then works with the original images to transform them into incredibly detailed and dramatic textile works of art.
The studio has a treasure trove of paint brushes, scissors, pencils all waiting to be called into action for the next piece of work. As well as a sewing machine or three! And darning thread. And more of all of them!
Rowena keeps a selection of her works in the studio, and I was very happy to spend the day with her going through them. From her earlier monumental landscapes to today's more intimate designs you can trace her development and I'm excited to see what comes next! But they all have one thing in common - the original drawings are kept in the studio - a record of a wonderful body of work so far.
Rowena's most recent series “Darned Landscapes”, is a group of stitched paintings that are reworking of etchings by Dutch Golden-age masters, most notably Hercules Segers (1589 - 1638). She has created them using a combination of sewing and painting. In her own words "these works draw on traditional techniques to create very contemporary, but hauntingly ancient, imagery." Again, check out her website for great pictures of the new works like this: Wooded Landscape (after Hercules Segers).
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