Since I was a small child I’ve always loved kingfishers. This piece ‘The Summer of the Kingfishers’ is inspired by the place down by the river where we used to go to play in the summer and have picnics. And it is where my father used to go as a child, where he learned to swim in the holding tanks at the side of the bank which were kept for the run of the salmon up the river. Sadly the salmon no longer run this river and the weir and the rocks we used to play around have been altered almost beyond recognition. The magic this place once held for me, I carry with me still. The kingfisher I once saw flashing a brilliant turquoise, as it flew from the bank where it was nesting to a tree on a small island in the centre of the river is emblazoned in my memory as a special moment. The island is long gone, eroded in winter floods which happen every year. So my idea behind this piece was to try to express the essence of that experience, of the perfect summer day, splashing around the water’s edge amongst the rocks and the depths and mystery of the river itself, holding both refracted light and sullen dark shadows. I feel I need to make many more attempts to express this. But this is a good start.
The images show work in progress. There is much more to do to it yet. The embroidery is on painted silk habutai, stitched with machine free motion embroidery. I’ve used this to sew down some of the sequins to the background. Details on the kingfishers and the green heron are hand-stitched with fly stitch and more sequins have been sewn on to the birds and the fish to create a multi-layered texture. I’ve added foil and slivers of metallic lamé sewn with machine embroidery. The rocks were created using bits of painted silk and crystal organza.