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Emily Jo Gibbs

his likeness is captured with a very limited amount of stitching

The Maker

Emily Jo Gibbs is a British artist who over the last two decades has established an international reputation for her delicate textiles. Her portraits are constructed from a collage of silk organza pieces sewn together with tiny stitches placed one at a time. Drawing on the tradition of portrait painting, imagining the person is sitting in front her whilst she stitches, Emily likes the person have a still expression: this adds to the quiet gentleness of the work.

The Object: Fred in Yellow Jumper, 2015

Unframed 25 x 20 cm, framed 47 x 38 x 3.5 cm. Silk organza on linen. Portraits to commission: one £800, groups of two or more start at £1200.

The Making

On a cul–de-sac in south London children play games together in the street. They ride bikes, roller-skate and dress up. They climb lampposts and kick balls and fall out and make up. One by one they came and sat at Emily’s kitchen table to have their portrait made. Emily works in painstakingly hand stitched appliqué, using translucent organzas layered on a linen base.

Emily Jo on her Signature Style

I made this portrait of Fred as an example of what I could do at an accessible price point. Kids Today is a series of 12 small portraits of local children which grew from this. I have undertaken many commissions in this format. I really like his still expression, the limited colour pallet and that Fred’s likeness is captured with a very limited amount of stitching. I also like that he was wearing a bow tie because he was dressed up as Doctor Who; it’s great when the kids’ clothes express their personalities.

Expert Eye

A subtle palette, deliberately restrained mark-making through stitched lines and immaculate construction techniques are the hallmarks of Emily Jo Gibbs’ quiet yet authoritative portraits. Liz Cooper (curator)