Meet the Artist: Sushila Pillai

I am artist who has from an early age experimented with many ways of expressing my creativity but it was only when I discovered felt making that I knew that I had found my perfect medium. Felt making is an extremely versatile art enabling me to work in an endless variety of ways. The simplest way to describe the process of felt making is to say that it is the entangling of animal hair-often sheep’s wool but, other hair including human hair can be felted-using soap, water and friction.

The ways in which an artist can use this process to create are endless. In this blog I will describe some of the ways in which I use felt making and in particular talk about the work that I have made for the wonderful Inside/Outside exhibition.

Art to wear.

Through my company Felt4artsake I make and sell clothing which uses the art of felting and in particular Nuno felting. This technique allows me to combine unspun wool with open weave fabrics such as silk chiffon and cotton muslin using just soap, water and rolling to create what is essentially a new fabric.

Sushila Pillai -  Sunflower Scarf.jpg
Sunflower Scarf

Art to hang.

I also like to make enormous hangings. I am lucky enough to have a great studio at Makers’ Yard which is big enough for me to do this. Felt making always includes the need to shrink the wool so any piece that you see has started out 2 or 3 times bigger. The textural quality of my pieces are very important for me. The desire in the viewer to not just look but, to touch as well informs how I make work. Often I make my work to hang in space so that I can exploit the way in which light can pass through it and air currents can move it-another beauty of felt making is that it can be created so finely that it is translucent or so thick that it provides excellent insulation.

Sushila Pillai - In the woods
In the Woods

Inside/Outside exhibition.

I have used natural undyed wool as the basis of all the pieces. Where there is colour this has been created using natural dyeing processes with plant material such as onions and avocados and by natural printing using flowers and leaves. The textural elements of the work and the inclusion of materials such as glass and metal are meant to invite the viewer to come close and look and even to want to touch.

 However, I did not want to create work which is merely texturally and visually interesting but, I also wanted to use it to explore ideas to do with how people perceive themselves and others. In particular with the perception of themselves as being ‘on the ‘inside’ or ‘on the outside’ and how that perception makes them feel.

The pieces ‘They Are What They Are’ and ‘Traces’ are exploring what we might imagine is on the other side-is it more desirable or frightening or just ‘other’?

Sushila Pillai -  They are what they are.jpg
They Are What They Are
Sushila Pillai - Traces.jpg
Traces

Glass inserted in the work ‘Glimpses – Which Side Are You On?’  separates and creates an ‘outside’ or is it an ‘inside’? Is what is on the other side more desirable? Mirrors reflect back the viewer so is the other side the same or different and which side are you really on?

Sushila Pillai -  Glimpses-which side are you on.jpg
Glimpses – Which Side Are You On?

The piece ‘Cracks Abound’ discusses the possibility that barriers that we might create to separate ourselves from others can and do inevitably break down and asks us to think about whether this is desirable or not.

Sushila Pillai -  Cracks abound.jpg
Cracks Abound

Finally I ask the viewer to think about the feelings prompted by these words.

Perception: to become aware of something through the senses

Consider:

to be

confined

enclosed

within

secret

safe

to be

apart

peripheral

extreme

foreign

alien

to be

safe

private

bound

walled

barricaded

to be

tolerant

accepting

desirous

embracing

integrated

 

All my work is for sale and I also take commissions.

If you are interested please contact me: sushila@felt4artsake.co.uk

Also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: @felt4artsake

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