Caoimhe Friel is a Textile artist from County Donegal, Ireland. In 2014, she graduated with a First Class Honours Degree in Textile Art, Design and Fashion from Belfast school of Art where she specialised in Embroidery. She achieved success and recognition with her award winning final year work entitled “From the Bed to the Wall.”

Her enthusiasm for textile art and her dynamic approach to traditional techniques have gained her entry to many exhibitions. In October 2014, she was awarded a place as artist in residence in Vesteralen, Norway through the “Three Edges of the Same Sea” scheme.

Through travel and work, Friel plans to continue gaining experience and build on her already promising career as a Textile Artist.

Carrie: How would you describe your art to Artist Strong readers?

My work focuses on traditional domestic textiles. I combine a bold use of colour and creative embroidery for my own take on an age old craft.

Carrie: What does your workspace look like?

It looks very busy, I use so many different materials and tools in my work and I like to have everything near at hand. I collect a lot of books related to my practice or based on things that inspire me so they too take up some space. I also need one blank wall space to work on. I often work directly onto the wall.

Carrie: Can you describe your artistic process to readers? For example, do you follow the same pattern and track when you develop an artwork from idea to product?

I am a very process led artist so the more I work and experiment, the more ideas I get. For this reason sketchbooks tend to be the basis for most of my projects. I rely on them heavily. After a certain point I start working onto cloth or paper based on whatever ideas I came up with in the sketchbook.

Creative Spirit Caoimhe FrielCarrie: If you had to choose 3 words to describe your art, what would they be?

Intimate, chaotic, bold

Carrie: How does your life experience and emotional state feed into your art?

My present emotional state is really influencing my most recent work, in fact I have found it to be incredible cathartic. It is having a massive positive on my work and my creativity. I suppose for me, it is difficult to think of my art and my emotional state separately as they are so entwined.

Carrie: How do you know when an artwork is finished?

I don’t know and I don’t know if I ever will. In the past I have gone back to pieces of work that I was unhappy with and used them in other pieces of work. This is one of my favourite things about textiles as a medium: a piece can keep evolving.

Carrie: What are important strategies or choices you make that help support your creative process?

I have recently discovered that travelling has really inspired my artwork. I was lucky enough to get to spend time as an artist in residence in northern Norway. I realised how important it was to broaden my horizons and meet new people and learn new things. I will definitely be doing more travelling with my art in the future.

Creative Spirit Caoimhe FrielCarrie: How do you take risk in your art?

I learned a very good lesson in college and that is that as soon as you start to get good at something you should stop doing it.  Having learned this I now try to change something about my work every time I start a new project like force myself to use an awful fabric that I hate or stop using my favourite colours. I think people are most creative when they have more restrictions so I try to restrict myself and I often make wonderful discoveries.

Carrie: What has been one hurdle you’ve overcome as a creative and how did you navigate that problem?

I don’t think I can pinpoint one specific event however I do think one of the hardest things an artist will deal with is trying to continuously trying to motivate yourself.  I spend a lot of time submitting work in exhibitions, applying for awards, competitions and residencies and promoting myself on social media. Although I have done well and I am happy with what I have accomplished, I have received my fair share of refusal and denials which can definitely affect motivation. I have definitely become better at learning how to overcome these things and taking the good from them.

Carrie: What do you hope viewers take from your artwork?

I love been able to inspire people and give them new ideas for doing things. A lot of my artwork also challenges preconceived ideas about what is art and what is craft and I like to think that my art work allows people to question the fine line between art and craft. In my last body of work I created a series called “From the bed to the wall” and I looked at why patchwork quilts are not respected as art forms in the same way as a painting might be. I would like to think that I gave viewers some food for thought with this series

Carrie: Who/what inspires you?

I draw most of my inspiration from historical artifacts, artists and everyday things. Here is a few things

  • Old embroidery and darning samplers.
  • Archeological fragments of cloth
  • Domestic embroidery techniques like mending
  • The patchwork quilts of the Gees bend quilters
  • Louise Bourgeois, Tilleke Schwarz, Anna Torma, Egon Schiele, Tracey Emin
  • and so many more

Creative Spirit Caoimhe FrielCarrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?

My sketchbook. I would be lost without it. I love having something to reflect back on throughout a project. I usually have 3 or more on the go at one time for different things. I always like having one small enough to fit in my bag so I can carry it around with me.

Carrie: How do you define Creativity?

This is definitely something that everyone has but maybe different ways of expressing it. Some people’s creativity might not be as obvious as others.

“It is difficult to think of my art and my emotional state separately as they are so entwined.” (Click to Tweet)

BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: How can you “find the good” in rejections and criticisms that come your way? I want to know! Tell me about it in the comments below.

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