Threads of the soul: these modern embroideries are an ode to womanhood

Threads of the soul: these modern embroideries are an ode to womanhood

9 February 2022

Inspired by traditional Russian costumes and rural life, textile artist Anna Samoylova pays tribute to womanhood through intricate, brightly coloured embroideries, headpieces, and paintings. Yet, despite employing long established techniques and folk motifs, her Instagram account @annasamoylova18, where she displays her work, looks dynamic and modern.

“I am attracted by the texture and warmth of fabric, and the way it is connected to the female world,” Samoylova tells The Calvert Journal. “By making and working with textile, women shaped the fabric of the community as a whole,” she adds, with a nod to cultural anthropologist Lubov Golubeva. In order to create the textiles needed in every home, rural communities historically harvested flax and hemp. Then, women made clothes, towels, rugs, and other fabrics. Given the intensive labour that went into their production, textiles were even used as currency.

While valuing the past, Samoylova’s work also includes comment on the present. In her political embroidery, the artist criticises Russia’s widespread violence against women. One of her most powerful works is a series of 100 ribbons, on which she stitched the cries of her female followers on Instagram. “I want to feel safe in a taxi,” said one ribbon. “Please don’t rape me, I’m only 12 years old,” reads another.

Elsewhere, Samoylova stitches words from prayers, lullabies, and mourning songs on embroideries bursting with colour, grading from deep red, yellow, and orange, to shades of blue and green.

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