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Embroidery and Textile Art with Cheryl Bridgart

Colour in Your Life featured artist Cheryl Bridgart appeared on Colour In Your Life Season Twenty One (21).

Read a little bit about the artist here, and support our site by joining and watching the episode below.

Cheryl Bridgart has been drawing, painting and stitching all her life, but she feels nothing compares to the tactile detail & distinctive surface of embroidery. She has developed her own unique technique of Freehand Machine Embroidery. Her hand moves unmarked fabric, washed cotton paper or canvas under the needle of a domestic sewing machine. Hundreds of hours hatching, crosshatching and scribbling to build up her stories in detailed images, creating space, depth and meaning.

Cheryl’s art is predominately based on her dreams and life experiences, her art is the way she documents dreams, ideas, feelings and response to circumstances. Drawing is similar to stitching, line is used to record dreams, ideas, people, animals and has been an essential part of Cheryl’s life.

She begins with a sketch and notes on paper as this gives her the opportunity to modify and finalise the design. The drawing helps her to understand her subject and what she is trying to say. By drawing she thinks about form, composition, tone, balance, texture, structure and colour. She needs this preliminary step as once she starts on the sewing machine she cannot undo any mistakes or paint over like a painter would. She keeps all of these drawings in a new folio for each year.

Cheryl Bridgart is now a full-time professional, dedicated prolific artist. Trained in fine art she draws, paints, designs and creates museum quality Art-to-Wear clothing, but she is best known for her self-taught skill of fine art machine embroidering.

Cheryl creates portraits, figurative dream like works, garments, hats, bow ties, waistcoats, art to wear, cushions, and paintings.  Recurring themes within these creations are faces of people and animals.  Eyes feature predominantly, as do zebras and zebra stripes.

The eyes are windows to the dream world.

Zebras are Cheryl’s favourite animal since childhood – they are naughty, flamboyant, and happy in their own image, but no two are the same! They are extroverted and playful just like Cheryl.   They feature frequently in her work even just as zebra stripes.

Birds are also prominent in Cheryl Bridgart’s artworks – they are colourful, whimsical and unique, they are free – they are creatures of the sky, they can fly away and return as depicted in her art series ‘After the Pinery Fire’. Cheryl’s birds are whimsical and full of colour, pattern and vibrancy.  She loves to give her birds and animals an expression and personality –  it is not just the shape and form, it is the expression and personality.

More recently landscapes have featured in Cheryl’s work, she frequently drives through the Adelaide Hills & McLaren Vale vineyards to Goolwa and up to her farm at Mallala. She watches the seasons change, the colours and the textures, the rhythm of nature pass by in stripes. The landscapes frequently feature as background behind or intertwined with faces, birds or animals of Cheryl’s artworks.

Cheryl Bridgart has taught and exhibited on every continent and has works in collections in the UK, USA, Switzerland, Russia, Japan, Vietnam, and throughout Australasia. She set herself a challenge early in my career never to use projectors, printers, cameras or computers, and this has enabled her to spontaneously create my artworks in front of a live audience.  In 2012 she travelled to every state of Australia and NZ (twice) and embroidered live in front of audiences numbering in the thousands at each event.

In 2019 Cheryl embroidered a portrait of His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC in front of a live audience whilst being filmed for television, this portrait is now in his collection in Government House. Cheryl has now embroidered several well known SA identities live in front of an audience (Ian Henschke, Amanda Pepe, Rachel Sanderson MP) and is to her knowledge the only artist who can sit at a sewing machine and create portraits live with out any other aids.

Cheryl has a solo exhibition every year in my studio gallery (her converted horse stables in Adelaide CBD) to coincide with South Australian Living Artists Festival (SALA).  Cheryl is honoured that about one artwork a week is collected, this has been consistent for the last 10 years. Cheryl only wears embroidered hats, coats and garments that she designs, embroiders and tailors.

Cheryl accepts Commissions and collaborations and has created artworks as diverse as an embroidered cushion to portraits, to animal portraits, to art to wear waistcoats to mosaic installations.

“My art reflects me, my existence amongst people, animals, birds and nature but usually in a colorful and surrealist nature.”

Watch Cheryl’s Episode Here:

You can contact Cheryl Bridgart about her art tips or art techniques directly via her website at bridgart.com

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