Emily Jo Gibbs is a British Artist who over the last two decades has established an international reputation for her delicate textiles.
Emily’s latest body of portrait work The Value of Making depicts various making disciplines through to-scale representations of tools; hand-stitched exquisite still life portraits in a collage of silk organza. Emily made these portraits to reflect how proud she is to be a member of this creative community and to celebrate the skill, dexterity and the creative problem solving of people who make things.
Emily has received significant critical acclaim and examples of her work are in The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Crafts Council Collection and The Museum of Fine Art, Houston. She is a member of Contemporary Applied Arts, The 62 Group of Textile Artists, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Between 1993 and 2006 Emily was the Creative Director of Emily Jo Gibbs, luxury handbags. Emily started making fashion accessories in textiles and metal in the final term of her Wood Metal and Plastics degree at Wolverhampton University. On graduating she briefly studied shoe making and leatherwork in Leicester and Walsall. Then in 1993 inspired by interest in her work from designers and press; including Koji Tatsuno and American Vogue, Emily moved back to London and embarked on setting her own handbag making business; That was the beginning of a hectic decade a vast amount of making hours, very steep learning curves with hugely exciting and glamorous moments.
In 2005 Emily Jo Gibbs won an award from Craft Central to create a whole new body of work, which was for a new audience; Emily found it extremely liberating creating this collection, and was excited to be making pieces with less constraints and exploring new techniques whilst still using many of the skills she’d honed making handbags. Much of this work derives from her observations of nature, finding beauty in a tiny bits of moss, grass or peeling bark. When these pieces are brought together they make Intriguing ‘nature table’ displays.
She then became interested in the idea of nature tables that give gravitas and reference to collections of knobbly sticks, grass and other natural treasures. She started making hand embroidered drawings of sticks in Jam Jars, enjoying the quiet beauty of these everyday items.
"I found the change in pace between running a fashion driven handbag business and establishing myself as an Artist quite difficult to navigate at times. Determined to make work that was personally and creatively rewarding I embarked on a series of embroidered portraits of my family. That was the beginning of another new chapter”.
Alongside her commission based Art practice Emily regularly teaches short courses and gives talks; for a variety of clients including: The V&A, Art in Action, Embroiderers Guilds, Rochester Art Gallery, Oxfordshire Museum and West Dean College.
Emily Jo Gibbs’ work has frequently appeared in national and international press and publications including: Crafts, Elle, Embroidery, Marie Claire, Period Living, Tatler, The Financial Times, The Telegraph, The Independent and Vogue.
Her work also features in these books;
The Art of the Handbag: Crazy beautiful bags. ISBN 9781937994297
Stitching Pictures. ISBN 9781408131343
Radical Tread. ISBN 9780957124202
Fashion: Oxford History of Art. ISBN 9780192840301
Embroidered Purses: design and techniques. IBSN 0713488778
BAGS. London: V&A. ISBN 1851772863.
A Century of Bags: icons of style in the twentieth century. ISBN 0785808345
Banner Image: L’uomo Vogue, oct 1995. Photo by Manuela Pavesi