Embroidered Expressions by Tilleke Schwarz

Tilleke Schwarz (1946) lives in The Netherlands in a small town near Delft. She loves textiles because of its tactile looks. She has an art training (mainly drawing) and learned stitching from her mother. She exhibits and teaches all over the world and her work has been depicted in many books and magazines. Her works evolve gradually and more or less spontaneously. She rarely plans ahead, just collects images, texts and small sketches (a kind of doodles) that move, amaze or intrigue her and combines them in her work.

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This results in a subtle commentary on our modern society. She hardly needs to use her imagination: ‘Real life is often stranger than fantasy’.  Other sources of inspiration are the textile tradition, cats, everyday life and the media.All her works are part of a continuing story, a reflection on modern life.

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Her work contains narrative elements but not a complete storyline. The viewer is invited to explore and combine the images and texts and thus create their own interpretation. The viewer may step into the role of the ‘author’. Thus her work becomes an interaction between the viewer and myself.

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Tilleke’s work is a mixture of graphic quality, content and fooling around. The humor in my work is typical for her Jewish background: a mixture of a laugh and a tear. Folk art and daily life are great sources for inspiration. She uses mixed media with a focus on hand embroidery on linen and on drawings and paintings.

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Her work can be understood as a kind of visual poetry. It is a mixture of contemporary influences, graffiti, icons, texts and traditional images from samplers. And of course cats are usually included. The embroidery contains narrative elements. Not really complete stories, with a beginning, a storyline, and an end. On the contrary, the narrative structures are used as a form of communication with the viewer.

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The viewer is invited to decipher connections or to create them. The viewer may assemble the stories and to produce chronological and causal structures. Actually the viewer might step into the role of the “author”. It can become a kind of play between the viewer and me. The work also relates to the history of humanity that is determined through stories.

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