For myself, and I think many people, the lockdown has meant the luxury of enjoying the garden more fully.  I have always really valued it but the restrictions of movement have enabled me to look a little more closely and to be more aware of changes as they appear.  I have enjoyed the ease with which new blooms can be photographed on my phone and cropped, saved and maybe appear as new embroideries in the future.

I have been working on an ongoing series of embroideries which are inspired by French seed-pack labels from the 1920’s.  The work is small in scale, the flower pieces being about 8cm x 12 cm.  The embroideries are larger than the actual labels but I hope reflect some of the preciousness of the originals.  I collage with a variety of fabrics to create a found palette of colour and then free machine embroider onto them.  I add satin stitch for further detail and sometimes embellish with beads or sequins. 

The scale of these pieces seems particularly appropriate to lockdown, so much so that I have now begun to embroider pieces which are the same size as the labels, only 6cm x 10cm.  I am now using the vegetable labels as inspiration and creating trompe l’oeil images by laying the separate embroideries on top of vintage linen coasters, as if they have just been dropped on them.  I have enjoyed working on smaller pieces because of the speed with which the work progresses, as previously I had been working on a larger scale.  I will hopefully explore some of the photos that I’ve been taking during lockdown as they offer a much greater range of subject matter.  I will use the flat areas of colour and simplified compositions of the labels as a starting point but will make them map the passage of time over this very strange year.

Darren Ball Garden Sanctuary - inspiration seed packet

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