Emily Jo Gibbs creates hand-stitched textiles with a delicate graphic quality, portraits and still lifes constructed from collages of silk organza pieces and careful stitching.
She sees great craft as, “Skill gained through repetition of process combined with material understanding, style and imagination. Why do I make? There was a time in my life when my children were small and I was working in a non-creative job where I felt quite miserable. I realised making things is totally linked with sense of self: making makes me happy.”
Emily delights in observing the quiet beauty of things: a knobbly stick, the worn handle of a well-used tool, a still moment. Her body of work The Value of Making comprises portraits of makers as expressed mainly through their tools, and underlining her pride in being a member of a creative community; celebrating the skill, dexterity and creative problem-solving of people who make things. The Value of Making also reflects concerns about the position of making in the hierarchy of skills valued by society and how this is exacerbated by the decline of making in schools.
Emily is now returning to making family portraits, working more freely from her drawings. She says she is slightly obsessed with light illuminated ears and making them glow. In her 2021 portrait of her son Fred who has just turned 17, she plays with the idea of using a very muted colour pallet combined with an unexpected pop of neon orange.