Recovery Quilts


Electronic textiles or e-textiles are fabrics that enable electronic components such as batteries, lights, sensors, and microcontrollers to be embedded in them.

Artist Statement

I work with textiles. I used digital embroidery and print onto fabric to create large scale responses to a theme; often I am telling stories.

Recently I have been working on a series of Recovery Quilts as a personal response to an episode of clinical depression.

As an artist I am drawn to data. In the past this has led to collaborations with paleopathologists, cardiologists, haematologists, geneticists and neuroscientists. I have also worked with historians and archivists on how it has been used in the past to examine and communicate ideas and with computer scientists, programmers and data analysts on how it can be used in the present and future.

I am particularly interested in how medical information in one context can be processed into words, numbers, graphs and charts, so it can be understood in another. Outsiders and the uninitiated see only random jumbles of letters and digits, lines and squares, but if you understand how to read the ‘Code of the Data’, you can see that information literally determining life or death diagnoses or treatment.

I have a socially engaged element to my practice. I often find myself working with people to help them tell the stories of themselves, their communities and their local history. This often takes the form of provoking conversations though and during making. I have worked with womens groups, patients in outpatient clinics or in isolation rooms, mental health service users and dementia clinics. I have run projects in schools and on out of hours programmes, with young people on remand or on teenage cancer wards. I have worked with the general public and specific targeted groups as part of public engagement strategies.

“Fortunately we have makers like Karina Thompson who exemplify the inquiring mind of the twenty-first century maker,
subtly integrating the new and old in a way that goes beyond the definition of craft”

Michael Eden

Technique/ How it is done

Data or imagery is often initially cleaned up and edited in Photoshop before being loaded into specialist embroidery software. The actual embroidery stitches are created and further editing or image creation can happen at this stage. Additionally the imagery might be digitally printed by specialist machines onto fabric.

Fabric (printed or not) is then hooped taut on a digital embroidery machine and stitched upon. This stage could be considered similar to screen printing where colours are built up on top of each other to create a complex image. Multiple stitched areas might be pieced together to create large surfaces. Often these surfaces are freemotion quilted, a skilful process of ‘drawing’ with a sewing machine to stitch multiple surfaces together and create a relief to the surface.

Slashed work

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