14 February 2024

Slow Stitches

Ringatoi Ahuwhenua. Rural Creative.

writer: FLEUR WOODS
photographer: ARIANA LEILANI, TONIA SHUTTLEWORTH & FLEUR WOODS

Self-taught fibre artist Fleur Woods is crazy about the chaotic creative process. From her eclectic home in Upper Moutere, she surrounds herself with colourful fabrics and threads, combining them with beads and paints to create the intricate stitched paintings she’s known for. She invites everyone to slow down and join her in the essays and lush photographs of her new book, The Untamed Thread.

“Embrace the slow and note the things you like as you create. Commit to continue growing the list of things that feel good. Be patient and kind to yourself as you learn this,” Fleur recommends.

Progress shot of Garden Wanderings, 2022, with a hydrangea as big as both hands. The finished work measured eighty centimetres high by one hundred centimetres wide. Fleur says, “I always have more than one piece on the go. Whenever I get bored, annoyed or lost, I can put that work down and start working on another piece. This ensures I bring a sense of enjoyment to all of my work and has become an excellent way to avoid overworking or losing my sense of direction. Most importantly it prioritises joy in the process.”
Progress shot of Garden Wanderings, 2022, with a hydrangea as big as both hands. The finished work measured eighty centimetres high by one hundred centimetres wide. Fleur says, “I always have more than one piece on the go. Whenever I get bored, annoyed or lost, I can put that work down and start working on another piece. This ensures I bring a sense of enjoyment to all of my work and has become an excellent way to avoid overworking or losing my sense of direction. Most importantly it prioritises joy in the process.”

Finding joy in a process is essential, especially with stitch, as progress is slow. “Committing to finding joy in my creative process has allowed me to grow as an artist, have a job that I love and have the freedom to explore this way of living in other parts of my life too. We all have ideas or rules that no longer serve us and can be put aside in favour of our creativity. It’s worth it, even if it feels a bit uncomfortable initially.”

Joy Journey, 2022. “I adore how the back naturally becomes an abstract version of the front, both beautiful in their own ways. If you subscribe to the idea that it matters what the back of your embroidery looks like, I am here to tell you that it very rarely does. I like to say it’s nobody’s business what’s happening at the back,” Fleur says.
Joy Journey, 2022. “I adore how the back naturally becomes an abstract version of the front, both beautiful in their own ways. If you subscribe to the idea that it matters what the back of your embroidery looks like, I am here to tell you that it very rarely does. I like to say it’s nobody’s business what’s happening at the back,” Fleur says.
 A closeup progress shot of Kind Heart Brave Mind, 2021.
A closeup progress shot of Kind Heart Brave Mind, 2021.
 Allowing the work to bloom outwards, inspired by the base fabrics of the textile collage. “Joy, by definition, means to experience pleasure or delight,” Fleur says. “It isn’t one big dance party with streamers and endless disco balls. It isn’t a permanently heightened state of bliss. It is simpler, more humble. It is the life-changing sense of wellbeing that you experience when you do something you love.”
Allowing the work to bloom outwards, inspired by the base fabrics of the textile collage. “Joy, by definition, means to experience pleasure or delight,” Fleur says. “It isn’t one big dance party with streamers and endless disco balls. It isn’t a permanently heightened state of bliss. It is simpler, more humble. It is the life-changing sense of wellbeing that you experience when you do something you love.”
"Welcome to my studio where I share my journey and processes - opening a window into my creative world while encouraging you to craft your own," Fleur says.
"Welcome to my studio where I share my journey and processes - opening a window into my creative world while encouraging you to craft your own," Fleur says.
Fleur Woods – contemporary fibre artist, seeker of joy and lover of nature. “If there was only one thing I could ever share, to support and encourage, it would be to enjoy the process,” Fleur says. “It is the biggest lesson I’ve learnt. Find what you love and pursue things that spark your creative soul.”
Fleur Woods – contemporary fibre artist, seeker of joy and lover of nature. “If there was only one thing I could ever share, to support and encourage, it would be to enjoy the process,” Fleur says. “It is the biggest lesson I’ve learnt. Find what you love and pursue things that spark your creative soul.”
Progress shot of Kind Heart Brave Mind, 2021, created as a beautiful daily reminder.
Progress shot of Kind Heart Brave Mind, 2021, created as a beautiful daily reminder.
Progress shot of Kind Heart Brave Mind, 2021.
Progress shot of Kind Heart Brave Mind, 2021.

Shepherdess first caught up with Fleur in our Takurua Winter 2020 Edition, for a Q&A about the inspiration that goes into her elaborate stitched paintings. Fleur welcomed us back into her home and studio for the Upper Moutereepisode of our new television series, Shepherdess, which is available to watch on Sky Goor through the Sky Go app.

On Tuesday 27 February at 8pm, take a peek inside Fluer's studio. watch as she shows us her slow-stitching process and chat with Fleur about her work with our Social Club. Learn more and sign up here. 

Extracted from The Untamed Thread: Slow Stitch to Soothe the Soul & Ignite Creativity by Fleur Woods. Published by Koa Press, 2023. Softcover, $49.99.

 

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