Designer Edge: Liz Cooksey And Her Embroidery Artwork

We look at Liz Cooksey’s embroidery artworks which free birds from behind bars but retain the beauty of feather-soft fabrics and yarns juxtaposed against rigid wirework.

By Janai Velez


Her tiny winged creatures clearly like the idea as much as we do, sticking around to perch on the metal framework, rather than taking flight.

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“I often find it difficult to describe my work, as it is made up of lots of different elements using a wide range of techniques,” says Manchester-based Liz. “It involves an eclectic mix of found and handmade treasures. I bring them together in small, intricate compositions with possible narratives coming into play via natural forms, such as flower heads, hares, birds and hearts. I try to carefully place all the elements together within a wire framework, creating relationship through colour, shape and texture.”


The idea came to her when teaching and her college students were making drawings using small wire grids. Around the same time, she became ‘hooked’ on crochet after discovering mini hooks in her grandmother’s sewing tin.

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“This led me to play around with combining wire and crochet – not the most obvious materials to bring together, but it got me started, and I have loved the process of discovery and experimentation that has led to the current pieces”. The wire framework beautifully showcases her techniques and collections of curios.


She starts the process by gathering and making her ‘ingredients’. “I love this stage, because there is so much potential for ideas. I can change from one technique to another, so I never tire of a process. I lay everything out, selecting a crocheted square, an embroidered flower, some patchwork fabric … And I can consider what works together,” she says. “I think of it as shopping.”


Once the stitching is done and a perfect balance achieved, the hammering begins. Liz flattens and straightens wire to create the framework to accommodate her crafted compilation. Often, extra elements are called for, so Liz adds old buttons, embroidered fabrics, pottery pieces, lace offcuts, bits of ribbon and even rusty nails found in antique markets, family cupboards or along the seashore.


Her completed mixed-treasures artworks are suspended behind glass in white boxed frames, pinned to sit slightly away from the surface to create a soft shadow. Although the pieces are small (10- 30cm wide), they have a concentrated quality.

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When a good stock of work has built up, Liz exhibits at The Contemporary Craft Festival in Bovey Tracy, in Devon, UK. She also sells through www.madebyhandonline.com, which means devotees the world over can buy her work. And who wouldn’t want their own bird on a wire?

Visit Liz Cooksey’s website (www.lizcooksey.com), follow her on Instagram (liz_cooksey) or email her (cookseynash@hotmail.co.uk).