Grid Collective by Richard McVetis

Richard McVetis is a British artist who graduated from The Royal College of Art and whose practice is deeply rooted in process and hand embroidery through the use of traditional hand stitch techniques and mark-making. McVetis is especially interested in how stitch can reveal a world seen from within and from a scale that can tell us much more about our own trajectories in space. By recording time and space through multiples of dots and lines, he reflects on the repetitive nature, human presence, time, and decay.

Grid Collective

The Beginning
Richard McVetis: Textiles were a discovery made during my Art Foundation, a pre-degree one-year course that introduces you to many mediums and styles, but hand embroidery specifically, was only later in the first year of my Embroidery degree. This minimal aesthetic and binary colour developed in response to a visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum, and my encounter with Blackwork embroidery – a style of embroidery popular in the 1400s to the early 1600s, using black sill thread on an even weave, white linen background. It was initially referred to as a ‘poor man’s lace’ because of its lacy appearance. From this, I first came across a stitch called seeding or speckling stitch, an embroidered pointillism. Embroideries’ particular appeal to me has always been about drawing, the similarities between pen on paper and thread on fabric, and the mark’s immediacy and directness. I was able to translate what I was doing with a black pen and ink into the medium of textiles. 

Grid Motif and Cube Format
Richard McVetis: As a series, I wish the cubes to show time and form as both logical and playful, as an ever-present invisible force, defined by materials, created through the random process of embroidery and the hand’s action to generate variations with self-imposed restrictions that imply the passage of time. It was a project of perseverance, physical and mental stamina, but I was able to get a real sense of time. I am trying to represent and give scale to the vastness of time and space through the simple process of hand embroidery. The method of making is an attempt to control the uncontrollable.

Richard McVetis: The grid motif and cube format give the impression of uniformity but also of infinity, an idea discussed in Rosalind Krauss’ essay ‘Grids’, where she goes on to say that ‘by virtue of the grid, the given work of art is presented as a mere fragment, a tiny piece arbitrarily cropped from an infinitely large fabric’ and describes the grid as a way to ‘order reality’. This grid offers a more rational way to organize the chaos of nature. The works reflect on time as architecture; in fact, life is built and housed in this construct of time.

Hand Process
Richard McVetis: My stitching and mark-making are far more intuitive than planned. I do set parameters, rules, areas to stitch within, these act as an armature for this exploration of process, thinking, and marking a mark. There is a desire for me to create and experience that space that flatness through stitch demonstrates my need to engage with and connect to, the world through touch.

Richard McVetis: Slowness is fundamental to the hand process; it’s something I battle with all the time; there is both a love and hate relationship with the slowness. Ideas tend to come and go quicker than I can stitch, but what does enable me to do is slow down. A mediative concentration, physical and mental stamina are needed when making. The stitching process is both a form of isolation and escapism from the world around me, which to be honest is a state that I have found incredibly hard to achieve in the last year. Any psychological or emotional distraction, anything that takes me out of that moment, makes it hard to focus, this past year has given rise to many such moments.

Available Works:
Title: Grid
Materials: Hand embroidery, cotton on wool
Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 10 cm | Price: 1520€

Title: Grid III
Materials: Hand embroidery, cotton on wool
Dimensions: 9 x 9 x 9 cm | Price: 1050€

Title: Grid IV
Materials: Hand embroidery, cotton on wool
Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 6 cm | Price: 585€

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