England-born and living in Kenya, textile artist Sophie Standing embroiders intense portraits of the African wildlife around her. At the beginning of her career, she specialized in life drawing which she utilizes in these threaded “studies” on canvas. We’ve featured several artists experimenting with textiles, such as Ana Teresa Barboz and Richard Saja, who implement fine art practices into their works. The influence of 19th century art can also be found in Standing’s work. She has an extensive collection of decorative fabrics from her travels all over the world, making her colorful ‘collages’ of flora and fauna a personal story.
You could also call her narrative a political one, as she consistently displays the dominance and majesty of endangered species. In fact, her very first embroidered subject was the African elephant, a bull with raggedy ears and a broken tusk running from an unseen threat. It is also an image of hope, as he charges towards the viewer in bold colors signifying his strength. The entire image is a beautiful, impressionistic mess of overlapping threads and florals at unusual angles. These flourishes of color provide the foundation for movement and changing light in the environment in Standing’s work. The overall effect is a high energy vibration of life, her perception of nature’s beauty.