Meet Anna Hicks, meditative stitching expert and sustainable textile artist.
Anna is a long-time friend of Wilson Trollope. Annabelle met Anna back when she first began WT, she knew then that Anna was someone doing something special. Over the years Anna has helped out with various WT fashion shows and projects. She also gives Annabelle fabulous knitting advice! We collect our fabric scraps for her to re-use for her projects and artworks. We love to see what she creates and the philosophy behind her works.
We recently visited Anna’s Textile Therapy Exhibition, which happened right here in Wellington, and we were blown away by her latest collection of work. We spoke to Anna earlier this month about her inspiration, the exhibition and the future of textile therapy.
How are you?
Great thanks! Very pregnant and very tired but good.
Tell us about your recent exhibition, ‘Textile Therapy’
I'm a sustainable textile artist and Textile Therapy was my first solo exhibition held at Thistle Hall Community Gallery at the end of June. I exhibited two of my 3D art quilt series that were inspired by the pure joy of playing with discarded fabric scraps as a way to unwind and improve mental health.
‘Contoured Waste’ & ‘Mindless Meander’ are quite contrasting quilt series made using a variety of hand and machine quilting techniques. They provide different relaxation methods for different moods to help manage stress, anxiety, grief and a whole lot more. Textile therapy is not an exercise in making art as an end in itself but about enjoying every step of the creative process and the health benefits that come with the physical act of making.
What materials did you use and why?
I work with second-hand or discarded materials to help divert textile waste from landfills. I use a lot of small commercial fabric swatches and workroom floor waste from local businesses such as yourself (thanks Annabelle) and the likes of Rembrandt Suits. I also collect things from op shops and chop up old unusable clothes as well.
I enjoy working with second-hand textiles because I love the challenge of working with what you’ve got. Finding inspiration and joy from combining different colour or texture combinations that you wouldn’t necessarily pick if got to choose. It’s like the satisfying challenge of making dinner from whatever is in the fridge!
Where did you draw inspiration from for your works shown in the exhibition? Do you have a favourite piece?
My inspiration generally comes from what fabrics I’m given. I like to see what ideas come to me when I just play with scraps. The exhibition was the result of all my experimentation in textile art and sustainable fashion since leaving university in 2013. I did a Fashion Design degree but I didn’t want to be a traditional fashion designer so I wasn’t sure which direction I wanted to go in. I spent a few years trying lots of different things and learning all different types of textile work but always ended up combining it with my passion for wearable art and zero-waste fashion. I love seeing what interesting 3D forms and shapes can be created from materials used in unexpected ways. I don’t have a favourite piece because it was just amazing to finally see all the pieces come together as a whole art installation.
How did you first become introduced to textile therapy?
Doing research in my final year of fashion school I came across a book on the health benefits of crafts and immediately related to it. I realised that I have always used textiles or creative therapy as my outlet; my way of relaxing or working through difficult emotions. Then when I unexpectedly lost my Dad a couple of years ago, textile therapy is what got me through that difficult time.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt through textile therapy?
To let go of perfection. It’s great to challenge yourself to learn something new and try to improve on those skills but there’s no point getting stressed about “mistakes” and trying to undo them. Imperfections are proof it was handmade! Textile therapy is about enjoying the process and embracing imperfections as part of what makes that item unique.
We love that you are following your passion. What’s your biggest piece of advice for women looking to do the same?
Go out there and make your own opportunities! You can’t wait for things to come to you. Things can often look like luck, being in the right place at the right time, or having the right connections. But it’s all about putting yourself out there, keep working at it and make friends with everyone as you go. It can be hard not to get disheartened when things don’t go as planned but you’ve got to remember that you’ve always learned something for next time.
What’s inspiring you right now in everyday life?
I’m still living off all the inspiration and encouragement I got from talking with so many interesting people at my exhibition. I’m really inspired to get working on the next phase of my textile therapy project but I’ll have to fit that in between my next immediate challenge of having my first baby.
To follow along with Anna's journey, follow her Instagram here
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There are three body measurement points that you need to know to ensure a great fit – bust, waist, and hips.
When taking your body measurements, wear the undergarments you normally wear for the most accurate results. Use a flexible tape measure, or a piece of string and ruler, and hold it around each body point so it is comfortably snug. If the tape is cutting into your flesh, it is too tight.
To ensure an accurate measurement around your body, keep the measuring tape as level as possible from front to back. We recommend measuring yourself in front of a mirror so you can check this from a side view. If you can, get a friend to help you to ensure the most accurate measurements.
Bust: Wrap the measuring tape around your back and where the tape meets across the fullest point of your bust is your bust measurement.
Waist: Wrap the measuring tape around your natural waist, the slimmest part of your torso, pulling the ends to the front. Where they meet is your waist measurement.
Hips: Wrap the measuring tape around the widest part of your bottom – this is usually low down towards your thighs. As with your bust and waist measurements, where the tape meets is your hip measurement.
Length: To measure the length of individual garments against your body it is best to measure down the centre of your back. To do this, start the measuring tape at either the base of your neck for dresses and tops, or at your waist for skirts. Measure down your body to the measurement listed in the garment description. This will show you where the garment comes to on you. When you are measuring for length, remember to make sure you are standing completely upright – it is best to have someone help you with this. Alternatively, compare the measurement with the length of a garment you already have.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Annabelle – firstname.lastname@example.org, she is here to help.