Like so many other talented textile artists, the current modern arts and crafts mania has Liz Payne caught in its web. Liz favours working in contours of colour and her intricate, unexpected stitching choices give a lyrical beauty to her style. At a recent KPC textile showcase - Thread+Colour in Paddington, Sydney - Liz’s work was an instant hit.
Liz started out studying visual arts and then graphic design which led to work on magazines in Sydney and London. She contributes a lot of her success to learning from trial and error in the past. These days she’s a full-time superstar artist who produces exquisite works out of her inner-city studio in Erskineville.
What is your process when working with wool?
I incorporate wool into my embroidered textile artworks, and especially love French knotting with it. On a recent piece I French-knotted approx 120 metres of wool (in just the one colour, overall in the piece it would’ve been even more) . I like to see using the thread as a medium just like a paintbrush to add detail and movement to my pieces, but also the added bonus of being able to introduce texture to my work.
What is a pivotal moment in your early career?
I was a finalist in Craft NSW’s Emerging Artist Award . It was with my artwork ‘Embody’ which was a very large embroidery artwork that I had also framed myself in a double-sided frame (a concept I had dreamt up and then made too) so you could see the reverse of all the stitching.
Did anything in your childhood influence what you do now?
My mum … Growing up I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by her huge collection of fabrics, wools, beads and paints. Often I would spend all weekend in there making something or other.
What are the professional achievements you are most proud of?
Last year I won the Etsy Design Award in my category (Art, Illustration & Papergoods). To get recognition for my work is mind blowing and I was fortunate to have my work seen by the huge Etsy community which was great.
Is there anything you wish you’d known when you were starting out in wool?
Probably to just have the confidence to produce the work I wanted to make versus what I thought would be popular. I guess it’s a struggle with most people starting out and if I could go back in time I would say to myself to persist with my own aesthetic.
Why do you think hand-made textile pieces are so fashionable again?
I think there used to be a bit of a stigma attached to textile arts that it was dated, or grandmotherly even. With a lot of people approaching the medium in a more contemporary way, I think there has been a huge resurgence and with that an increase in popularity.
What is your dream wool project?
I would love to branch my work out across into clothing and homewares - something I’m really excited about and am continuously writing down ideas for. I would also love to be commissioned to make a massive embroidery, about five metres wide; it would take forever but it would be a huge accomplishment.
Which artists who work in the textile industry have inspired you?
Oh there are so many amazing artists working with textiles at the moment.
What is your most-loved wool item in your wardrobe or home and why?
Last year I went to Tokyo and bought this ridiculously huge knitted woollen cardigan. It was about 40 degrees in Tokyo at the time too, which definitely made no sense. It also took up most of the room in my bag on the trip back home. But now I absolutely love it so it was all worth it.
You obviously spend a lot of time in your workspace. Can you describe it for us?
I work from my home studio and it’s quite tiny but somehow it works.
It’s full of wool and thread in every colour and there are beads everywhere. You can’t step in there without stepping onto a bead. I like to be surrounded by a lot of colour when I work too.
Best beginner’s task?
To just go for it without over-thinking it. I think to not be concerned about the stitches being correct, and to just have fun with it is perfect for a beginner, and more relaxing too than wondering if it’s right or not.
The KPC Yarn hue that speaks to you and why
I love Billiard - it’s the perfect shade of green and as I work with a lot of pink and orange, I find having a nice green compliments it really well.