Q&A with Darren Ball
Location: Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey
Discipline: Machine embroidery
Darren trained in Fashion Textiles, specializing in hand knit. In 2004 he gained his MA Textile Culture from Norwich School of Art and Design.
He had a solo exhibition of his work at The Sunbury Embroidery Gallery in March 2023. He was selected for the Young Masters Exhibition at the Exhibitionist Hotel, South Kensington in 2022, selling a piece to an American collector. He has been selected for the ING Discerning Eye Exhibition in 2019, 20 and 22. He was selected for Rising Stars 2020 at the New Ashgate Gallery, Farnham. In 2019 he was selected for the prestigious Crafts Council Hothouse programme.
Please describe your creative practice/process:
I use a domestic sewing machine to applique and free embroider personal narratives or ideas, inspired by memorabilia or my collection of vintage ‘Stitchcraft’ magazines. The magazines provide the figurative element and ideas evolve from personal experiences, cultural references, film, textile history or a chance find. I use fabrics that I have collected over many years creating a found palette of materials each selected for its colour, surface and response to cutting, layering and sewing. I may include pieces of found domestic embroidery or my own hand-knitted fabrics to increase the variety of surface and to reference domestic work. Bespoke framing emphasizes the precious nature of the work.
What are your influences?:
I am primarily influenced by my vintage ‘Stitchcraft’ magazines. They offer a social history of their period, reflecting fashions, tastes and ideas. The domestic nature of the making has become increasingly relevant today because of our awareness of the many possible sources of wellbeing.
I am a keen collector and and I am fascinated by the past and wish to keep it alive. I enjoy searching out the handkerchiefs for use in my pieces and aim to celebrate and upcycle them in a contemporary way.
What makes your work unique?
My work is unique for several reasons. It is created using vintage and found materials which cannot be duplicated. Each piece is completely bespoke. I often use vintage handkerchiefs as the starting point for my embroideries, creating a narrative in response to them. My work is often inspired by my collection of vintage ‘Stitchcraft’ magazines from the 1930’s through to the 1960’s. A bespoke frame is chosen for each embroidery. My pieces bring together my individual knowledge of both embroidery and hand knit.