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Expressing Creativity Born from within the Fabric: Susan Lilley's Textile Art

May 03, 2018

Expressing Creativity Born from within the Fabric: Susan Lilley's Textile Art

We are welcoming Susan Lilley to Whisper Wind Gallery.  Susan is a textile artist from the South Shore of Nova Scotia with an amazing talent of creating colour that can illuminate any space. 

Susan was born into a family of artists but it wasn’t until the early 2000s that she began to focus her attention on creating textiles; her first was a memory quilt for her son made from old jeans. Even from the beginning of her exploration with textiles, she has been making something from “nothing”. 

Xs and Os by Susan Lilley

Xs and Os by Susan Lilley

Photography by Susan Lilley

It is the ability to create beauty from materials that were otherwise destined to be discarded that inspires Susan’s passion; to bring life to something others no longer see value in.  Not a consumer by nature, Susan tries not to buy a lot of needless supplies and instead scavenges or reuses her materials.  Collecting white cotton that had a former life, she brings colour to its fibres through a variety of techniques including:  dyes, discharges, paints and is always exploring for new approaches to try.   

One of the great things about Susan’s nonrepresentational works is that she doesn’t set out with a plan in mind, or an end result that she strives for.  The magic happens in the free play; Susan continues to play with the material until interesting patterns or colour combinations appear.  The adventure begins when she sets out to try a new combination of fabric to be discharged, or try manipulating the fabric before dyeing it to see what results. 

What she strives to achieve is an elegance and simplicity of design.  Susan is searching for the light in a piece and so, often removes elements to allow what is left to really shine through.  Susan strives to make a piece that glows, that can move people, and that is when she knows that a piece is complete. 

Popular Mechanics

Popular Mechanics by Susan Lilley

Photographed by Susan Lilley

This is one of my favourite pieces by Susan Lilley.  Popular Mechanics started as a study to see what happens if fabrics are first sewn together and then discharged.  This artwork started with black, grey, and red material and it is through stamping with a discharge solution that she strips away the colours and accomplishes bringing out the light within the piece. 

Urban Inferno

Urban Inferno by Susan Lilley

Photographed by Susan Lilley

Urban Inferno is the only piece of Susan’s collection that is more abstract than nonrepresentational in nature.  To complete this piece, she dyed the fabric three times, each time folding and clamping the fabric to control dye penetration.  This produced the repeating pattern that evolved into the windows.  The process of clamping folded fabric and dying it is very unpredictable and always mysterious.  I love how chance results lead to definite decisions to create the urban landscape.    

We welcome Susan Lilley to Whisper Wind Gallery.  If you are looking for that unique piece to illuminate your room, we encourage you to contact us for viewing opportunities of Susan's collections.  If you are interested in following Susan’s blog for the Studio Art Quilt Associates, you will find it here




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