Wind on the Water
c2010 by Eileen Harrisson
Recently displayed in the Mall Galleries’ exhibition of textile-based work Prism: Up close, in detail, Harrisson’s work is a manipulation and play of fabric and embroidery. Her images take shape initially on the very surface of fabric, which is either printed with pattern (of stitching or otherwise) or painted with earthy colour. Never dyed but always worked upon, her backgrounds are part of the thickening of the image. Her painting style reflects the concern Harrisson has with the materiality of her work – colour washes through the fabric, seeping into the loops and knots of its being, making it appear densely clouded with the projected image. The density of her compositions is then continued with her building on top of them, stitching through the fabric by hand or with the tight little loops of a sewing machine. Harrisson pulls the movement and energy out of the fabric’s coloured waves to play out three-dimensionally, dotting across the work in the vein of the fluttering petals of impressionism. The movement and vitality of the wind is visualised in these stitches, some subtly glistening, others definitely and hardy pulled through. The pairing of this texture with the cool fresh blues, the sandy browns and hints of yellow makes this piece incredibly naturalistic; we could be looking at a cross-section of earth or have just plunged our head beneath the waves. Harrisson weaves the energy and rush of the sea into the very being of her image, playing with stitch and thread as a painter plays with the expression of paint.