Rachel Burnett creates sensitive personal works that sit between textile art and fashion. She uses garments as a canvas for contemporary, illustrative embroidery inspired by narrative sources that stir an emotional response in herself. Pieces incorporate vintage, found and gifted materials that carry this sentimental thread throughout the work. Her current work ‘Muses’ looks at interpreting poetry by Sylvia Plath onto vintage lingerie.
Rachel selected Plath’s poem ‘Tulips’ as it’s one she remembers studying in school. She recalls being given a small printed photograph of some tulips by her teacher and she has kept this picture as a keepsake in her pencil case. Looking back, it reminds her of the thoughtful gesture which is then juxtaposed with the more sinister subject of the poem. She was drawn to using underwear garments as a canvas for their delicate fabrics and shapes. The revealing nature of the poetry would lend itself to being shown as embroidery on revealing lingerie garments. Inspiring words were selected from the poem and flowers became the focal point of the sampling, she also drew inspiration from personal objects and trinkets.
The embroidery is worked onto tulle fabric, allowing the illustrative nature of her drawings to be interpreted into stitch, stitching onto tulle means round shapes from drawings can quickly be represented in stitch. Layers of colours and materials are built up to reflect the drawings and create textural embroidery samples. Pieces often feature contrasting colours, materials or styles, allowing the unique features of the various elements to be enhanced. Free and instinctive stitches are contrasted with more accurate and detailed areas of stitch. Found objects and materials – often personal or gifted – are used to make work more individual and precious.
Rachel has worked as a Freelance Embroiderer for Jasper Conran, Ralph & Russo and Catherine Walker & Co., during which time she was featured in an article in The Daily Telegraph.
She has also worked in collaboration with the artist Susan Aldworth and has been awarded Janet Chum and Victoria Adams bursaries during her Degree at the RSN.