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Rhiannon Williams

MA work

Hiraeth

Handmade, embroidered tapestries inspired by personal narratives and entwined with imagery stolen from Welsh folklore and the poetry of Dylan Thomas.

Info

  •  Rhiannon Williams
  • MA Degree

    School

    School of Design

    Programme

    MA Textiles, 2014

    Specialism

    Mixed Media

  • Hiraeth (n.)
    A Welsh word that has no direct English translation. A homesickness for a place to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past. 

    This body of work illustrates a nostalgic return to my childhood growing up in South Wales. I was brought up in a Welsh- speaking school and lost the language when my family moved to England. The word ‘tapestry’ literally translates as ‘a complex or intricate sequence of events’. Through this work, I delve through scrambled imagery, to create a series of embroidered and assembled textiles, which explore the events that shape my character. These tapestries tell personal, fantastical stories that are real, imagined, and stolen from the poetry of Dylan Thomas and the stories of my namesake, Rhiannon, Welsh goddess and trouble-maker of the pre-Christian Welsh folktales in Y Mabinogion.

    The hangings are made by quilting together pieces of fabric, which are bought, and ripped from old clothes and bed linen. In creating work from old, used fabrics, the material retains a memory of its past, and embeds value into the work through its inherent qualities of another life. The work is made using methods of hand embroidery and beading, fabric painting and, predominantly, Irish machine embroidery: a highly specialised skill on a machine that is no longer in production. Importantly, the work is made by hand and without the use of digital machinery.

    This body of work is infused with notions of human connections: the connection between the maker and their art, through creating work by hand, and in the human emotions and connections that exist in every day life, old fairy tales and personal folklore, alike.


    Collaboration with Menswear Designer, Faye Oakenfull, and Print Designer, Charlie Hetheridge

    A second project in my final body of work, is in collaboration with menswear designer Faye Oakenfull on a collection inspired by her Uncle Walter, writer and romantic, who died tragically of AIDs in 1994.

    Central to my practice is an interest in the therapeutic and healing benefits of stitching. In my dissertation, I wrote about the relationship between stitch and wellbeing, and explored the notion of ‘stitching yourself better’; an idea that encourages the act of embroidery as a tool for happiness. In one of my chapters, I researched the AIDs Memorial Quilt as an example of ‘stitching through pain’. A quilt was never made for Uncle Walter and, so in this collaboration, I have made a quilt in his memory. It is embroidered with lines from Dylan Thomas’ ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’, which was Walter’s favourite poem. The quilt is to be worn, draped over a man in a mint green suit. I have also embroidered an ode to Walter, in the form of a portrait stitched into a bomber jacket, and an array of embroidered badges of souvenirs collected from Faye’s life. This collection is an exuberant and joyful celebration of life and textiles.

  • Degrees

  • BA (Hons) Textile Design, University College Falmouth
  • Experience

  • Digital print for fashion internship, JRC Imports Ltd, London; Embroidery internship, Tom Cody, New York; Embroidery internship, Tom Cody, London
  • Awards

  • Texprint, 2011
  • Publications

  • Nancy Alsop, 'Rising Stars: The RCA's Faces of the Future', Corner Magazine, 3, 2014