UK-based embroidery artist Amber Griffiths is riding a wave of anatomical inspiration in her latest designs. Typically inspired by nature, Griffiths tells Colossal that her series kicked off when looking to put a non-traditional spin on the iconic Valentine’s Day heart. “I’m not particularly someone who’s into all the mushy classic love hearts, so I thought the anatomical route would be much more interesting,” Griffiths says. That set off an obsessive exploration of human anatomy through her primary embroidery technique—the punch needle. This method pushes yarn or thread through the fabric while staying on one side, in comparison to normal stitching during which the needle moves in and out of the fibers.
Griffiths finds the ways the organic shapes, layers, and textures fit together endlessly fascinating. While anatomy is an enjoyable yet challenging subject to dive into, she also finds it educational. She spends time researching the particular organ or system, finding at least 20 to 30 reference images before starting. The embroidery artist embellishes her anatomical pieces with various beads and even mimics a fused spine using real metal screws.
Although she learned how to sew at a young age, Griffiths took up embroidery as a way to relax while on holiday break during her final year at university and hasn’t put down the punch needle since. She’s also become a resource for those wanting to try the difficult punch needling technique and shares her process on YouTube.
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Based in Austria, Natalia Lubieniecka scours Vienna’s markets for antique objects, fabrics, and anatomical posters that eventually inform and meld into her peculiar sculptures. Whether it be a blush-colored heart enveloped in florals, a supine frog with exposed entrails, or a deceased bird covered in a lace bodice, her fantastical works speak to the fragile relationship between life and death.
The sculptor tells Colossal that her interest in organs and bodies began after a visit to Naturhistorische Museum Wien, where she encountered taxidermy of birds, insects, and other animals. Her favorite piece, though, is her faux anatomical heart because it pushed her to expand her source material. “I think that human and animal anatomy has something magical about it. Each organ is responsible not only for the functioning of the body, but also for feelings, thoughts, and emotions, and these transport us to another magical dimension,” she said.
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Made of translucent glass, Laura Hart’s brilliant orchids appear to be the paragon of delicacy: the fleshy petals and neon-illuminated columns are in full bloom, representing a fleeting stage of life that’s modeled with an easily breakable substance. The Suffolk-based artist, though, is more concerned with the floral family’s historical resilience and aptitude for survival.
There are 28,000 known species of orchids, which 100-million-year-old fossil records prove were the first to bloom. “Representing a quarter of the world’s flowering plants, there are four times as many orchid species as there are mammals and twice as many birds,” Hart says. In her newest series, Orchis Exotica—which debuted earlier this year as part of Collect 2020 with Vessel Gallery—the central neon light is a nod to orchids’ efforts to attract necessary pollinators to ensure their survival. These successful strategies prove their adaptability, Hart says, a move she connects to Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theories.
Manacled by religious dogma of his time, he risked a charge of heresy had he cited another organism equally successful in achieving global population through adaptability. Though there is very little anecdotal record of his personal resolve that humans were the ultimate example of his revelatory theory, there can be no doubt he believed it to be so…The bi-coloured neon centres illuminate the uncanny resemblance between orchid and human reproductive organs; a parallel unlikely missed by the great man himself.
Orchis Exotica is an extension of Hart’s previous flowers that had similarly perfect symmetry but lacked the glowing portions. Despite LED lights being simpler to use, Hart tells Colossal she prefers the traditional mechanisms. “Why neon? Well, I am a lover of the light/art form; very much a rarity in itself these days with the advent of LED neon tube usurping traditional glass,” she writes. Constructed with a combination of 3D design software and traditional technique, each piece is hand fused and slumped to create the half-meter-wide flowers. They undergo multiple firings.
Of course, unlike living orchids, Hart’s sculptures prove their durability by their failure to wilt. Head to Instagram and Facebook to follow her vibrant works, and see which are available for purchase from Vessel Gallery.
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Instead of writing or illustrating a journal to record his excursions, Sydney-based artist Jake Henzler knits colorful memories of urban landscapes into huge pieces of art. The artist goes by the name of “‘Boy Knits World”’ on Instagram and crafts quilt-like panels of urban spaces that he comes across whilst traveling.
Henzler lived in Copenhagen for a year, and during that time, he created an original hand-knitted blanket panel called “‘Copenhagen Building Blocks.” The large work celebrates the traditional, world-recognized architecture of Denmark’s capital. As a whole, the piece is made up of a series of six grid-like patterns, which Henzler has sewn together to form a larger piece. Each of the architectural blocks is named after a different district in the city and features Nørrebro Studios, Østerbro Studios, Hellerup Apartments, Nyhavn Hotel, Nørreport Offices, and Frederiksberg Apartments.
In Copenhagen, much of the traditional architecture’s brick and woodwork is painted, and the diversity of colors throughout the city creates a strong sense of place. This architectural distinctiveness is illustrated throughout Henzler’s work, and each block comprises the traditional colors, framework, and patterns featured throughout the city’s vibrant districts.
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Extraordinarily Intricate Cardboard Robots by Greg Olijnyk Feature Embedded Lights and Moveable Limbs
Imbued with a penchant for adventure, Greg Olijnyk’s cardboard robots are ready to zoom around on a Vesbot or dodge oncoming bumper cars. The fully operative sculptures have bendable limbs, spinning wheels, and glowing LED lights that add an ambience to “Speedybot Dodgem” and serve as functioning headlights. Olijnyk also created a robotic dog that’s perched on the back of the scooter as an intrepid companion.
The artist’s recent sculptures are similar to his previous projects that are influenced by science fiction. He tells Colossal that he has “a fascination with mechanical shapes, girders and, of course, robots, resulting in original works that hopefully, tell a bit of a story.” Each piece has a potential for movement, whether it be a figure who’s descended into a crouch or another with its hands positioned on its hips.
Based in Melbourne, Olijnyk is a full-time graphic designer and says he transitions to 3D, analogue projects as a way to contrast his daily digital work. Follow him on Instagram to see step-by-step process shots and check out the playful escapades his mustachioed robots and their pets undertake next.
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Stacked Chevron, Multi-Colored Stripes, and Ornamental Motifs Detail Frances Priest’s Meticulous Ceramics
Based in Edinburgh, artist Frances Priest merges stripes, chevron, and asanoha designs into impeccably complex motifs. Generally utilizing bold color palettes, Priest’s hand-built vases and bowls begin with sketches on paper before being transferred to test slabs of clay. The artist says she treats “the surface much like a sheet of paper,” as she inscribes each vessel using scalpels, patterns, and aluminum stamps.
The entirety of the piece is enveloped in the surface design so the works appear to wrapped in, or constructed out of pattern. I think it is a real treat to pick up an object and find that the base has been treated with the same care as the rest of the work, it makes the form complete and also allows for the group works to be re-arranged into different compositions.
Much of her intricate work is derived from The Grammar of Ornament by British architect Owen Jones, which her father gifted her as a child. The classic text focuses on ornamental design spanning multiple regions and periods. “I can distinctly remember spending hours as a child tracing the designs with my fingers, leafing from page to page and absorbing the visual languages on display,” Priest said in a statement. Her most recent vases from her Grammar of Ornament series directly reference the marble and tile mosaics found in the book’s Byzantine section, the artist tells Colossal.
Priest, though, doesn’t limit herself to representing only singular styles or eras. Her ongoing Gathering Places project serves as a collection “extracted from my sketchbook and collaged together into my own new designs—parquet, tiles, parasols, and swags. I use the title gathering places for all the half-sphere vessel forms because they are just that, places to gather together collections of decorative motifs,” she says. For example, “Architekten” is based on stark angles in buildings by the architecture firm Saurebruch Hutton, in addition to the natural foliage she discovered in illustrations of Vienna’s Villa Primavesi.
If you head to Instagram, you’ll find more of Priest’s elaborate ceramics, in addition to a coloring book she created that’s free to download.
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Despite lacking any distinct facial features, porcelain figures by Istanbul-based ceramicist Aylin Bilgiç have one unmistakable, defining characteristic: The lengthy braid resting on their oversized bodies evokes performance artist Marina Abramović, who is known for donning similarly styled locks. In another of Bilgiç’s pieces, two heads are back-to-back with their hair wound together, resembling Abramović’s 1978 collaboration with Uwe Laysiepen.
The monochromatic collection was designed specifically for Akış / Flux, an exhibition surveying Abramović’s work and offering 15 live performances. It is now on hold because of the global coronavirus pandemic. If you’d like to purchase one of the figurative pieces or a square pin, they’ll only be available in Sakıp Sabancı Museum’s shop, although they aren’t online just yet. See more of Bilgiç’s work on Behance and Instagram.
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Editor's Picks: Craft
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.