Debbie Smyth is a textile artist specializing in occupy public space (shop windows, exhibitions, corporate environments and private spaces) with their artworks made with pins and yards and yards of wire shaping beautiful three-dimensional images. Her work is usually associated with the phrase "drawing with threads". Debbie meticulously examines each case to perform amazing landscapes and murals that capture the everyday moments. She uses a technique that travels between illustration, textile art and embroidery. The result is a unique work, full of energy, movement and humor. So far her work has captured the attention of names like Hermès, Ellesse and The New York Times.
I love working for different clients all the time. Having to do the same thing day in, day out, would bore me and I think the variety of different fields I work in keeps the work exciting and keeps me intrigued about what is going to happen next. The technique is so versatile in how it can be applied, suiting some many areas of art and design. From gallery installations and corporate artworks on one scale, to unique gifts on another; graphic prints, to set design, to window displays to advertising, the possibilities are endless.
I like working directly on to a wall. It gives my work an ethereal quality as these installations are often temporary. With these particular installations, it’s very important to me to document the making process as well as the final piece, whether it be through photos, stop motion video or video. I wouldn’t necessarily call I a performance but as I work a lot in public spaces, part of the process is meeting people and explaining what exactly I am doing and often demonstrating. Some people like to have a go, which I love! I try to incorporate the animated nature of my creative practice into the works I produce, almost leaving traces of my mental processes in capturing a subject.
The first piece I made using this technique was my graduate show. Risky I know.
It all started out as a bit of happy accident, hit the nail on the head with that idea... quite literally.
I spend a lot of time planning as when I install on site I need to be very prepared.
Firstly I do a lot of research, sketches, photos, etc. I then scan all my drawings and begin to piece together compositions to suit the size of the artwork or the shape of the room. With installations, the shape of the space is always the main factor which comes in to play when composing the artwork. I always like to create perspective and create illusions of depth within an artwork
I then go through a thorough planning and plotting process and finally when I am happy with the piece and the planning at a small size, I am ready start pinning/threading. I then begin to upscale the piece from my plans to the wall/backboard. Plotting an outline initially and then filling in places, and building up density, literally drawing with the thread.
Once I get the outline sorted, I can be vary spontaneous, thats the fun bit, letting the thread dictate my path.
Scale is fun. I love creating a installation that you can literally walk into and experience and view from different angles. It adds to the perspective and depth.
It’s not something I have thought of, it’s a good idea if someone would like to commission me, I wouldn’t say no.
I am currently working on a Edinburgh cityscape themed triptych for the Caledonian Spa Hotel in Edinburgh. Another upcoming project that I have in my head, not yet down on paper, is a book launch trade show stand piece for The Knit and Stitch Show at Alexandra Palace, 11th-14th October, for the book Hand Stitch Perspectives I want to do something a little different, but it’s all just ideas at the moment, that will be quite a spontaneous piece I think.