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Out of Hand 2021 Curator’s Award goes to Vanessa Newton-Brown

This year’s Out of Hand exhibition Curator’s Award has been won by Vanessa Newton-Brown for her work entitled ‘Beetles 1’. Vanessa received her award at the Out of Hand opening on Thursday, 23 September at the Long Gallery, Salamanca Place, in front of a crowd of around 80 guests.

Exhibition curator, Roz Wren, said it was a very difficult decision as a lot of this year’s entries made her say “wow!” But the biggest “wow” in her mind was the 3-dimensional hand embroidery and beading work of Vanessa.

Roz Wren (right) presents the Curator’s award to Vanessa.

Vanessa’s inspiration for this work is the natural world of insects, beetles in particular. She has used a silk painting technique using Gutta as a resist to form the intricate patterns on silk fabric for the beetles’ bodies. The beetles are then hand-embroidered with silk and cotton threads, incorporating tiny beads. The feelers and legs of the miniature insects are created with fine wire.

Says Vanessa, “I have tried to imitate and abstract the incredible colours and textures found in the insect world. I have pinned the imaginary beetles in the style of a coleopterists collection. Seeing an exhibition of beetles at TMAG some years ago was the embryo of the idea. I just loved the incredible colours and textures. Once I started sewing the beetles I found it compulsive”.

Vanessa Newton-Brown – ‘Beetles 1’ (detail)

Vanessa’s work is very time consuming as it is all hand embroidery or stitching.

“It’s very hard to quantify how long each beetle would take to complete but it’s fair to say a larger single beetle would take some hours from beginning to end. This work was done over many months”. 

And the question on everyone’s lips….will there be more beetles? Yes! Vanessa has been compelled to continue with the tiny insects and has already completed quite a few. 

We look forward to seeing ‘Beetles 2’ in future! Congratulations Vanessa.