Tilleke Schwarz

Following the recent release of her second self-published book, New Potatoes it feels befitting to feature an article based on the textile work of Dutch embroidery artist Tilleke Schwarz.


 Scratch, 2012

Schwarz combines thread drawn typography and illustrations in a modern manner through the traditional medium of embroidery. Her work is constructed on white linen which is then dyed and surfaced with all manners of needlework depicting figurative, structural and text based motifs and exhibiting techniques such as appliqué, coaching and cross stitch. The end product is an intricately crafted and immensely unique piece of contemporary textile work crafted with classic methods. The subjects visually communicated through thread tend to be tactile and of an aesthetic nature whilst also being satirical, which creates a juxtaposition to the purpose of traditional embroidery samplers, which were used to educate illiterate young women.  Aside from traditional embroidery samplers, Schwarz’s inspiration comes mainly from folk art, felines, and her everyday travels and experiences.


 Free Recovery, 2010

Free Recovery exhibits a rather simplistic design using mainly pastel tones on white linen, a contrast from her usual brightly dyed fabrics and bold executed textiles. The piece depicts a balance of figurative forms alongside more traditional cross stitched subjects such as birds and florals, the depiction of more obscure subjects such as angels and mermaids. As is usually the case with Schwarz’s work, the inclusion of text gives the piece a sense of dry wit with quite odd yet humorous captions such as “have not given up on internet dating”, “the cake stall will be gingerbread free after 9AM” and “is this girl telling all her life?”.

tilleke-if2 tilleke-scratch

 If, 2009

From 2009, If entails a much more vibrant approach. Positive and negative space are key elements in Schwarz’s work. Within all of her work there is always quite a considerable amount of surface that hasn’t been touched which contrasts against other areas which are structurally layered with different themes through thread. You can see from the details the varying techniques used within her work and provide visual verification of how specific and detailed just a small portion of Schwarz’s work is.


Playground, 2008

You can find more information on Tilleke and how to order her new book here.



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