This week Brighton Journal spoke to local contemporary textile artist, Heidi Rhodes. Heidi is inspired by both fairy tales and cityscapes, and her vibrant embroidery work frequently combines the two. She is currently working towards a textile collection focusing on the Coronavirus pandemic. We discussed how Brighton’s iconic architecture continuously influences Heidi’s designs, as well as her most exciting projects.
What are you doing today?
This morning I made the “Mary will save the day” picture, and this afternoon I am going to the downs for a picnic.
Describe where you do most of your creative work.
I can be creative most places, but at the moment in my flat or at our gallery on the sea front, The Naughty Pirates Gallery. Anywhere where the ambience is good and the people are kind.
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve worked on?
Each time I develop a new piece, it’s exciting. The most exciting year was 2012, when I did pictures for the River Pageant and the Olympics.
What made you decide to become an artist?
I think you’re born an artist, you have a slightly different take on life.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a textile collection infiltrated (I think this word makes more sense with this than inspired) by the Corona Virus. It had a profound effect on me, and I stopped sewing for three months and painted instead. The fact that the whole world was stopped by this I feel was a really big message to the human race. As we stayed in, the world flourished. I hope we learn something, I really do.
What are the key themes in your work?
Mainly fairytales and Cityscapes and a combination of the two!
What would you like people to notice about your work?
I really don’t mind, I like making the pieces and once they’re in the world I like the fact that they will be interpreted in different ways and I have no control over this.
What attracts you to the medium you work in?
The fact that the threads add a third dimension, and machine embroidery is very fast, you have to jump in and see where it takes you, it has lots of movement.
What equipment could you not do without?
My sewing machine and sewing hoops.
Who or what inspires you?
I like the fantasy of Chagall and the freedom of Jackson Pollock. I find Brighton very inspiring, I love the architecture and seeing people interact with it.
How is your work affected by living in this area?
I think Brighton is quite frenetic and fantastical and that’s reflected in my work.
What’s your favourite thing to do locally?
I love my walk to work along the beach. I start at Hove lawns and walk past all the icons, the Peace statue, the Bandstand, the West pier, the I360, and the Carousels, it’s like walking through a painting, and the light is always different, endless inspiration.
What’s your favourite gallery (or place to see/experience art)?
I love going to the Summer show at the Royal Academy, I love the celebration of so many artists and the variety. I went to see the one curated by Grayson Perry three times it was amazing.
If you could collaborate with one artist, from any time, who would it be and why?
Grayson Perry, he’s clearly enormously talented and creative, but the reason would be I find him a very reassuring and non-judgemental presence, which encourages you to be yourself.
What’s your favourite colour?
To find out more about Heidi and her work, take a look at her website.