Setting up a large cork board in front of the desk, it is pinned with lists of things to do, samples, and inspiration and a set of draws with all threads in it. Lora Avedian’s studio is currently in the spare room of her flat, in a small suburb of South West London. That is in a very quiet corner with lots of green plants outside the work room window to look at. She and her husband are in the process of getting a studio in the back garden soon.
“I am a keen collector of things, anything that catches my eye, I will keep and pin to my cork board or put in a sketchbook. My inspiration is often from historical objects, either from pieces I have seen in a museum or gallery or objects I have collected from markets.” Lora Avedian explained.
The images of sketchbook pages, some are photographs taken at the British museum, some are images of other artists’ work like Celia Pym’s beautiful gold cape, and some are postcards or images from museum archives. Lora often put together these sorts of collections of imagery that she feels work in harmony together and this can inspire her work. “Often my work is fragments of one or many of these things mixed together.” she said.
自曼徹斯特城市大學（現為曼徹斯特藝術學院）的刺繡學士課程畢業後，Lora懷著來自Shona Heath和Tim Walkers超現實世界的啟發，和時裝品牌的工作經驗，回到倫敦，為雜誌及廣告創作場景佈置和道具造型。7年後，她開始厭倦了精心製作壽命只有鏡頭前一瞬間的道具，她意識到自己其實是想做一些持久的東西，希望人們可以享用很長的時間。 於是她決定報讀早已想了很久的Mixed Media Textiles（混合媒體紡織品）碩士課程，在皇家藝術學院的日子裡，她有足夠的時間創作和發展出自己的設計個性。
After graduating from a BA in a course called Embroidery at Manchester Metropolitan University which is now Manchester School of Art, Lora was really inspired by Shona Heath and Tim Walker’s worlds that they created, so when she moved back to London after doing work experience for fashion brands, she worked for magazines and advertisements as an set designer and prop stylist for about 7 years. After that, she eventually decided to apply for the Mixed Media Textiles MA because she was getting tired of making beautiful props to go in front of the camera that would just be thrown away at the end of the day. She realised she just wanted to be making things that would last and people would enjoy for a long time. The MA gave her the time to do that and develop her identity as a designer.
“When I worked as a set designer and prop maker I became interested in making paper flowers as props for photoshoots and events, and it became something people would ask me to do a lot. I loved making them and the more I looked at flowers the more I realised how inspiring they are.” Lora was going to focus on translating the paper flowers into textiles and explore other areas in her MA. She did a lot of research into Armenian heritage and translating them into stitch, as well as creating some floral pieces which ended up being the part of her work people were most excited about.
“My work at the Royal College of Art was a lot about exploring my Armenian heritage, and because I was not able to go to Armenian and had never been there, I spent a lot of time going into archives, libraries, and doing visual research of ancient Armenian artifacts which came together into various embroidered objects and textiles which represented my research. I looked a lot at the Soviet Armenian film, The Colour of Pomegranates by Sergei Parajanov. The pieces I made that worked on the body I had photographed by Suzie Howell who did an amazing job at capturing the narrative of the pieces and my research.”
“I try to use a combination of different techniques, because I find that is where I get the most interesting outcome. I do love pleating and couching, but I also do a lot of work on my freehand embroidery machine called an ‘Irish’ industrial embroidery machine, I have a new version, but it is traditionally a very old industrial machine where there is no foot on it so you can draw freely with stitch.”
“I try to use deadstock, second hand or vintage materials and haberdashery wherever I can, because I think it’s far more interesting than buying new as well as being better for the planet. For my flower petals I try to use offcuts of fabrics where I can, and because it’s hard to find strong machine embroidery threads that are vintage. To balance between the old and the new, I combine my second-hand materials with new threads to embroider on my machine. If I do buy new materials, I have been trying to find suppliers who are transparent about where their material comes from, how far it has travelled and the factory it has been made in.”
“Some of the participants of my classes told me how relaxing my hand embroidery workshops have been for them, which is really good to hear. I think it’s the process of doing small, repeated actions that can be so good for you. That repetition can enable your mind to wonder or get you into a sort of ‘flow’ once you have the hang of the technique. It’s also extremely satisfying to make things with your hands, even if it is just a small sample which doesn’t function as anything.”
Working on a tactile thing with your hands is such a relief to working on a computer or holding your phone all the time. Lora thinks the concept of “slow stitch” is really related to the new trend of mindfulness, and she hopes that is not just a trend, but is something that is here to stay because it has a lot of benefits for people as individuals but also for our broader communities by bringing people together.
“I think as people are becoming more aware of the climate crisis we are facing, and how textiles have a big role to play in that. I think people are beginning to understand the value of materials more. I hope that in the future we will have more of an understanding about where our clothes come from, and how we can use hand crafts like embroidery to mend and revive our clothing. I think it would help if we learnt more of these skills at the school level, which could help future generations of people understand how the things around them are made and perhaps respect them more.”