Artist celebrates Yorkshire identity with stitch tribute to favourite ‘chippy'
A Yorkshire artist has been paying homage to her Northern roots by embroidering her childhood memories, from pic’n’mix sweets to a tribute to her favourite “chippy”.
Robyn Nichol, 26, from Keighley in Bradford, creates humorous art works that include some of her favourite food memories including mushy peas and Yorkshire puddings.
The textile artist creates intricate hand-embroidered pieces of household brands and amusing phrases that made up her childhood in the Northern market town.
One includes the phrase “put big light on”, while another reads “I ain’t done owt mum” – referencing the Northern slang “owt” meaning anything.
There are also references to the bakeries and chips shops that Ms Nichol used to frequent growing up with her parents and throughout her teenage years.
She told the PA news agency: “I think sometimes people might think that my work really doesn’t have much of a meaning to it, or ask how a packet of crisps can be personal, but it is deeply personal for me because it’s linked to a memory of my family.”
Each piece can take around a month to make but for Ms Nichol the process is “like a form of therapy”.
She first discovered embroidery when she was studying a degree in fine art at Lancaster University and was struggling to come to terms with the death of a close friend.
After feeling homesick and “yearning” to be back in Keighley, she began to incorporate “light hearted” memories of her home into her art.
She now focuses on her heritage, drawing on inspiration from Yorkshire’s historic textile industry “but in a contemporary context”.
Her work, that she regularly posts to her 5,000 Instagram followers, has even allowed her to collaborate with brands including the streetwear designer Lazy Oaf.
“When I first started I had to concentrate but now it just feels like second nature to me,” she said.
“It’s just nice because as much as it’s my practice I also find it helpful for my mental health and it was particularly useful in lockdown for me.”
When the UK was thrust into its third lockdown in 2021, Ms Nichol decided to share her skills for the benefit of others by hosting embroidery workshops over Zoom.
She said: “Someone at the end of one workshop actually got quite emotional and said that they had not seen people for a few weeks.
“So for them to be on there with other people meant a lot and made a real positive impact on their mental health, and that’s why I really loved doing them.
“If I can use the skills that I’ve been able to build up over time to help someone who might want to get into embroidery – but maybe doesn’t feel like being creative is accessible to them – then I think that’s a really positive thing.”
In March, she will be exhibiting her first ever public art work as part of The Ktown Shopper Arts Trail, a campaign to “uplift” the high street in Keighley Town Centre.
For Ms Nichol, showcasing her work in her hometown will be a “full circle moment” and one she is “deeply proud” to be a part of.
“For me to have my first public art piece in Keighley is really important to me,” she said.
“To be able to kind of draw attention to the town and what it does have to offer, and to be part of the cultural scene art scene is really important.
“For my grandma and grandpa to be able to come along and see my work up like that… it just makes me feel quite emotional.”
Ms Nichol’s work will be shown as part of the Ktown Shopper Arts Trail in Collaboration with Keighley Creative and will be launching on March 26.
For more information about her artworks visit http://www.robynnichol.com