The Permanent Collections

National Collection of Contemporary Drawing

Christine Mackey, Sewing Stories, 2001. Thread, paint and pencil on cotton, Series of 9, each 25 x 29cm thumbnail

Sewing Stories

Mackey, Christine

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2001 thread, paint and pencil on cotton, Series of 9, each 25 x 29 cm (National Collection of Contemporary Drawing)

Christine Mackey (1968- ) uses what, at first sight, may appear to be rather unconventional drawing tools; a sewing machine and thread to create her Sewing Stories. She combines different styles of stitching, threads of different thickness, colour and texture to lend different emphasis to the marks. Mackey’s drawings are superficially attractive. On examination the textured surface is disrupted through the stitch style; a neat row may end in a fraying mess, a horizontal line may suddenly be interrupted by a vertical row of larger, rougher stitches.

These variations in surface quality, induce a tactile relationship with Sewing Stories than with a drawing made using ink on paper. They engage the viewer not only through sight, but also through a desire to touch.

There is something quite poetic about the association of drawing, weaving and storytelling. Mackey plays with the idea of lines threading a story, although these works follow no obvious linear sequence.

Sewing Stories calls to mind ways in which needle and thread were used historically as drawing tools. Elaborate weavings and tapestries, popular in many cultures throughout history, were often used to illustrate a narrative. The Bayeux Tapestry depicting the battle of Hastings in 1066, is perhaps the most famous use of threads in communicating narratives, or folk tales woven into finely crafted Persian carpets.

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