I feel very grateful for the opportunity to talk with friend and artist Lou Gardiner for an hour as she embarks on one of her most ambitious commissions to date. Her positive energy is infectious and it’s impossible not to walk away from her uplifted and laughing. Our conversation is made all the more poignant by her recent cancer diagnosis and the journey that this continues to take her on. You can listen to our conversation below.
In Lou’s own words, “I’m a contemporary embroidery artist. It’s fast motion stitchery witchery! Imagine a rocket that could stitch, big, explosive and exciting!”. She’s been making a living from her art for 25 years, sewing and painting to techno and drum and bass, and is a self confessed 90s raver turned embroiderer. Her work, which mostly uses a sewing machine on linen and canvas, is often huge; a feast for the eyes. Her pieces are mesmerising with an abundance of movement, and a depth that reminds me of the complexity of mycelium networks and natural architecture. They can take up to 900 hours, beginning with black drawings that evolve as Lou intricately stitches, using bright threads and textured fabric. They are an expression of her explosive personality and she uses a needle and thread like a paint brush, no bigger than a fingernail. Her work is like no embroidery you have ever seen.
*Lou had her scan results after this interview and we are overjoyed to say that the trial of a new treatment she has been taking part in continues to shrink her cancer.