Embroidery is pretty hot right now, so who better to show off this current trend than Lithuanian artist Severija Incirauskaite, who darns yarn like no other. Her work involves cross-stitching domestic, metal objects such as pans, watering cans, spoons and even car doors. Integrating traditional elements from her Lithuanian heritage, Severija manages to turn a simple idea into something beautiful. We talked to the artist about how she mixes pop culture with traditional craft and technique.
You've mentioned that you like making something extraordinary out of the ordinary, why is that?
My work is inspired by everyday surroundings, everyday life. Objects from everyday life in my installations become extraordinary. Utilitarian objects lose their function and become art objects, which tell us different stories about our lives. Personally, I don’t like extraordinary situations - I like everyday life. People often think that a situation like a wedding or exotic travels etc are the most important in their lives. I think the opposite, I think that everyday life is more important because it unites all our lives.
Do you like to place the importance on the banal to highlight the stresses and strains that can build with modern life?
For embroidery I use mass patterns from different women's Hobby magazines. This is a citation of popular culture. I'm trying to break down traditional hierarchies of art, I try to bring art close to people, that's why I use the popular craft techniques in professional art. In some of my works like Between City and Village or Autumn collection, I try to find the intersection points between village and urban culture. Embroidery (and cross stitch) is a characteristic for village and philistine city culture.
Cross-stitching and the subject matter you choose, such as Lithuanian flowers, are fairly traditional. Do you like this nostalgia and reference to simpler times?
I really like simple things. My embroidery is not décor for things. Every time embroidery appears on different objects it tells a different story, transmitting to the viewer a different message.
How do you create embroidery in metal objects such as watering cans and bowls?
I drill holes in the object and then embroider with cotton thread. The embroidery colours chosen are mostly in accordance with the object colour. I don’t use contrasting colours for the embroidery, but try to adapt to the object. I emphasize the importance of the object.
In the Way of Roses series, you cross-stitch car doors and bonnets, is the contrast between mass-production and craft something that appeals to you?
No, it's not just a contrast. This collection was made in 2007, that year my country (Lithuania) was statistically the leader in the number of deadly accidents on the roads. It was a really big problem in our country, so I embroidered real car parts from the crash sites. Our country has a tradition of placing plastic flowers where the accident took place, so embroidered car details are a reference to the plastic flowers standing on the roads in places of deadly accidents. I was a young driver at this time, and it was very important to me.
What is it you enjoy about cross-stitching?
I use many different techniques, but recently more cross-stitch. I like this technique because it helps to express my ideas. Especially when I talk about urban and village cultures, or when I talk about the professional arts and crafts.
Where did you learn to embroider/cross-stitch? Did anyone teach you?
My study was related to textile specialty. I had many good teachers. I am currently also a teacher at the Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts Textile Department, and I am director of the textile gallery Artifex (www.artextile.lt).
Many of the objects you use are hand-held, domestic objects. Any plans to embroider anything on a larger scale (other than cars)?
I’ve also embroidered walls with large stitching.
Do you like to embellish your own clothing with needlework?
No, as I have said my embroidery is not a decoration. It is a part of my artwork.
What projects are you working on now?
I’m currently creating objects without use of embroidery. From old metal objects as well, such as buckets, sanitary fittings, washing machines. They are often balancing between art and design.
More of Severija's work can be found on severija.lt (note: currently loading veryyy slowly)