Embroidery has traditionally been used as embellishment: a decorative flower on a handkerchief here, a geometric pattern adorning a quilt there. Over the years, however, the contemporary art world has reclaimed needlepoint, and challenged the medium’s norms. One such artist is 27-year-old Oxford-based artist Chloe Giordano, who crafts small-scale animal portraits with textural depth and uncommon detail.
Giordano began crafting her own plush animal figures in the final year of her illustration degree at the University of the West of England, after being inspired by the surrealist soft sculpture pieces by artist Lauri Faggioni’s featured in Michel Gondry’s 2006 film, The Science of Sleep. She was inevitably drawn back to the canvas, settling herself between the three-dimensional and illustrative worlds to create her hand-embroidered fauna. Giordano’s creations may only measure a few thimbles wide, but they are impressively realistic. “Somewhere along the way I came across a piece of advice for painting and drawing,” Giordano says. “Every brush or pencil stroke you make should be describing the form of what you’re depicting, not just filling space. I try to make sure that every single stitch I make is working towards showing the form of the animal; how they move, how their fur lies—that sort of thing.”
Giordano often depicts her critters dozing serenely: “[I became] slightly fixated with how animals’ eyes look when they’re closed, how the fur folds around it,” she explains. “But it has left my body of work looking very sleepy!” Yet it is precisely this intimacy that works so well with the delicate medium, establishing Giordano’s creatures as quiet triumphs.