Meet the maker: textile artist Fleur Woods
Optimistic and inspired mixed-media artist Fleur Woods creates beauty from the useful art of stitching.
Partly trained and partly self taught, Woods has "always had a massive love of textiles and threads," but her journey into the art she now creates began with collage.
"It kind of progressed, I've kind of always played around with mixed media and texture," said Woods.
"I started doing that with collage and paint and things."
"I started adding textiles into my collages, and then I kind of got to a point where I wanted all of the imagery to be my own, rather than sourced from other places."
An heirloom tablecloth embroidered by her great-grandmother was her inspiration.
"I've got this linen tablecloth that my great grandmother stitched, with beautiful white daisies and its always been kind of close by. And I looked at it and suddenly I just went, 'Oh.'"
"So I just started playing around with stitch as another way to bring marks in and add texture."
"It felt really natural and so I started teaching myself to do it, and it's evolved into this complete addiction."
Stitch is now the feature that sets her works apart to the viewer. It's also an artistic mechanism that gives back to the artist herself.
Through stitching, Woods feels connected to generations of women gone before. She never met her great-grandmother, but feels the connection when she creates.
"She died long before I was born, but I feel like there's some kind of connection; she gave me some kind of something to be able to do the stitching that I do. I feel very kind of connected to other generations of women when I stitch."
"I think those women were so resilient. I feel like it's an amazing, almost a feminist act. Because making beautiful stitching, making something beautiful, was not necessary."
"People started stitching to mend and to create clothing, but to add the beauty was a way of women saying; 'We have skills and we can do something special. We can make beauty in otherwise very simple lives."
"It's of course not exclusively a female thing, but it is a real strength of women; to create something from nothing. And I guess 'cause I'm a mum, I really love that connection to everyday domestic life."
Her works "don't have much of a domestic purpose" but are really inspired by the things around her. Such as flowers in the garden, or the colours and textures in threads and fabrics that she has found op-shopping.
Her artwork is a triumph of layering, beginning with paints and then moving to thread. Some of her works she also produces as prints, and is flat-tack creating commission pieces of late.
At just 35, she's a busy lady with developments on the boil. If we're lucky we might one day enjoy her artworks in the area of homewares.
Home for Woods, her husband Cam and two daughters Lily and Saffron, is an eclectic "little 1950s farm cottage" in Upper Moutere in the Tasman District near Nelson.
"It's a pretty good spot. I call it my home town because I've moved around heaps."
"The Moutere is a really gorgeous little valley of rolling hills and vineyards, orchards. We have a lot of artisans and makers," said Woods.
The floral magic you may know from Instagram is made in her studio-gallery in the village's hundred year old post office.
Woods is in good company in the building, with other residents being linen designer Skunk and Robot, the old post office store, and a little plant and flower shop soon to also open.
"It's part of a group of lovely, yummy spaces," she said.
Stop by unexpectedly, and you might catch her stitching to the big-bass sounds of 90s rap music.
"Probably most people would never guess that I am a mad fan of 90s hip-hop," she laughed. "Though when its open to the public I try to tone it down a little."
Woods finds that the production of her works fits in well around her busy family life. The stitching stops for the day when it's time to pick them up from school, then begins again once they are in bed.
Embellishing her artworks with a needle and thread provides a bit of zen time at the end of the day.
"I'm not very good at sitting still and I'm not actually a patient person, but [stitching] forces me to be."
"Because I'm so addicted to see the image, I'm so obsessed with seeing the image come to life, I will keep stitching. Whereas if I was doing something else, I probably would have given up days before."
Due to the slow pace and concentration required, the activity makes her feel "mindful of a different sense of time."
"It's so completely the opposite of everything else in my life and I love that kind of slowness," said Woods.
"And I feel like those women would probably laugh at some of the crazy things we get up to today and say, 'Well maybe you should just sit down and think about it.'"
"And thats kind of what stitching is for me, that time to just sit down and think about it."