Interview: Melanie Kyles | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Tyneside artist Melanie Kyles is renowned for her embroidery and work with materials usually regarded as gender specific, such as fabric and crystals. She is teaming up with Women of Tyneside for her latest exhibition at Vane gallery as part of the Festival of Women. Worth It is a collective textile piece created by a diverse group of women in a series of workshops exploring and expressing their experiences of being a woman on Tyneside today. We had a quick Q & A with Melanie before the exhibition starts on Wednesday 16th May to find out more.

What is the Worth It exhibition?
The ‘Festival of Women’, which is produced by the Women of Tyneside project, covers a number of topics, including body image and identity. ‘Worth It’ explores this particular area as part of the festival, and showcases the outcome of the workshops I facilitated, which resulted in a concept garment expressing the identities and thoughts of the local women involved with this project. The project itself is led by the women to create an authentic voice and outcome, and like most modern-day women, they wanted their voices heard! The exhibition in Vane will allow the public to experience the project, the local women behind it, and visitors will be invited to contribute towards a collective voice of Women of Tyneside.

What lead to your collaboration with the Women Of Tyneside project?
When Clara and Gemma first spoke to me about the Women of Tyneside project, I was immediately drawn to their values that explored heritage, identity and community. I adore museums and galleries, and the idea that I was able to assist with something that would be in the TWAM archives was incredibly exciting! I also have the pleasure of meeting and getting to work with a number of local women through creative workshops I run independently from The Fashion Lab, so having the opportunity to meet a diverse group of women from Tyneside to help them to create something that represents them and explore our collective identity, is something that greatly appealed to me.

What made you want to be an embroidery artist?
I’ve hand-sewn all of my life, but I ended up completely inspired by embroidery after completing a Hand & Lock brief back in 2012. Hand & Lock are a 250 year old embroidery company based in London, and they strike that perfect balance of preserving heritage and craftsmanship whilst nurturing and encouraging fresh talent and innovation. They really challenged my perceptions of needlework in the 21st century, and I fell in love with the elements of storytelling, heritage, innovation and creativity involved with embroidery. It’s the perfect bridge between art and fashion, and for me has been the perfect creative outlet to channel my ideas.

Who or what are you biggest influences?
My influences vary greatly, but I’m always driven by equality in the creative industries. Whether that be diversity in galleries to raising awareness of inequalities in the fashion industry, it’s very important to me as a creative person to use my platform responsibly. I’m really inspired by bold characters that are authentic and unique, people who have interesting stories to tell. Interesting stories in general inspire me creatively, but especially the ones involving people! Aesthetically, I love things that are decorative, feminine and fresh…imagine the V&A Museum meets Memphis group!

What about the creative process excites you the most?
My favourite part of the creative process, cliche as it may be, is all of it! I love seeing first-hand the journey of a finished piece, from initial ideas and sketches to bringing that idea to life. I also love getting to work with others, having the opportunity to generate ideas together and those moments where you get that buzz of possibility about an idea, and that idea snowballs and has this amazing energy about it.

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