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Worked from aerial light patterns of cities at night, Richard McVetis’ ‘Light Abstract’ series is a mesmerising collection of embroidered artworks. Certainly, for those for us familiar with our capital city, the trace of the River Thames in ‘Perspective’ is instantly recognisable, yet Richard is inviting us to look at these mapped-out landscapes with fresh eyes.

He explains: “My light abstraction series started with an interest in looking down at patterns, specifically the city lights created by our industrial landscape. These patterns map a moment in time; they reveal our interaction with the environment, how we shape and build our world, and in turn, how the earth and the landscape have shaped us. These vantage points give us perspective on the fragility and smallness of everyday troubles in the context of the scale of the planet and universe. It’s humbling and frightening but also a reminder that we are part of something more than just ourselves.”

A closer look at Richard’s work leaves the viewer in awe of his almost microscopic detail. Each tiny hand-sewn stitch becoming a pixel in a landscape of thread. In an interview with he shares an insight to the beginnings of his process: “Drawing has always played a central part to my practice and since I was a child the medium I had most access to, was pen and paper. I would create entire worlds on the back pages of my school exercise book, building and destroying futuristic cities with a black ballpoint pen. The miniature scale of these worlds I created is a key element in the understanding and organising of space that I have now.”

The works in ‘Light Abstract’ are clearly an interpretation of the familiar but by very definition, are an abstraction in his distinctive style. “In this series, I have stitched the negative of the light pattern so that the stitches represent the city’s lights, and the white space of the fabric represents the darkness. I use the stitch as any other drawing medium, using the density of stitches to understand the space. Here, the light is given a texture; the rendered stitches describe the subtle shifts in light and tone. But they are also a record of gesture, they mark the rhythm of my hand.”

And he concludes: “My intention is not to recreate but to trace what I see, to experience this space. What is described on the fabric goes through editing, seen through my eyes and translated by my hand. These physical, tactile, and repetitive modes of creation allow me the time to see and think, to occupy a space and consider the city and world that I inhabit.”


Richard offers frequent opportunities to join him on his embroidery workshops. Find out more through his website TEACHING – Richard McVetis

Issue 22 of Hole & Corner Magazine features an interview with Richard and can be ordered online.

Instagram @richardmcvetis