Kent Artist Profile: Emily Tull
Emily Tull is fascinated by faces and it is this fascination, as well as her love for nature, that has inspired her to produce some incredible works of art. insideKENT spoke to Emily about her special creative talent and how it influences her on a daily basis.
If you had to define your art, how would you describe what you do?
I am a painter with thread. I normally describe my artworks as thread or needle paintings and all my work is hand stitched.
What is it about faces that particularly interests you?
I am obsessed with faces; they show a person’s life and can look different on a daily basis; a perfect canvas to convey different sides of your character. More than this, my fascination is with the colouration and fragility of skin. Throughout my career as a painter, and now as a stitcher, I have been preoccupied with getting the layering of skin tones – my concern has been more with the flesh then the actual likeness. If you can get the feel of the skin right, I believe you are more than halfway to capturing the person.
Why is wildlife such a good subject matter?
I started creating wildlife works in 2010 and they have been a way for me to experiment with different fabrics. Up to that point my portrait work was all natural muted tones and I needed to move on from that. I found stitching could recreate fur and feathers really well and the final look looked almost 3D. These artworks have then influenced by my portraiture, not only in my use of fabrics but my stitching has become thicker in layers and the cotton collection huge too.
What is the most unusual, daring, or interesting commission you’ve ever received?
I had a very sensitive and personal commission by a couple whose daughter had died. They had had a sparrow visit their window shortly after her death and it appeared for a few days, so they associate the bird with her. The commission was simply a sparrow, but I felt a lot of pressure to come up with the perfect pose for the bird. The final artwork was of a sparrow with its back facing forward and its head looking over its shoulder; the couple were delighted.
What has been your proudest artistic achievement to date?
Having my style of art, which would come under a textile art category if you had to label it, accepted as ‘fine art’ in galleries – there’s a stigma attached to textile art as being craft and not art and it’s a big passion of mine to knock back those barriers.
Where can we see your work?
I currently have a permanent display at eclecTic Art Gallery in Margate. I will also be having a retrospective exhibition at the Knitting and Stitching show at Alexandra Palace from October 11th-14th.
What does the rest of 2018 (and beyond) hold in store for you?
I will be having a solo exhibition at York Street Gallery, Ramsgate from 28th November – 5th December and I’m also looking into showing abroad again in 2019, but my main focus is on a society that I have co-founded with fellow stitch artist Cat Frampton. Called S.E.W – Society For Embroidered Work – it is to promote and support other artists who have a stitched element in their artwork.