What is “stitch art” you might ask?
It is stitching art with a sewing machine and one of our fellow cyclists is the brilliantly creative, young Brit, Harriet Riddell - a textile performance artist. She loves to cycle, travel and create her work in unusual locations around the world, surrounded by fascinated locals.
She tells us India has been a destination long on the top of her “to do” list. For a textile artist, the colours, prints and hand-crafted techniques of this country are an inspiration.
Frankly, I've never seen anything quite like her art. Her canvas is fabric, her medium is the one-line stitch and her brush is the sewing machine. Hard to believe I know, but she brought her machine on this cycling trip and hauls it behind her bike in a little trailer that has a tendency to lose its wheels.
When she arrives at a setting that inspires her - a market, a temple, a village, a man flipping chapati - she sets up and, without first sketching an outline, she sews the image in front of her in brightly coloured threads - completely free-hand. Her stitched drawings are observational, recording passing moments, en situ...or as she says, "InStitchYou"!
So far, she has stitched temples, villagers going about their daily chores, the Backwaters of Kerala, lotus flowers in full bloom...scene after scene while surrounded by locals in awe of her incredible talent. She encourages interaction and loves to engage with her audience, as she finds it enriches the narrative of her art and brings her closer to people and places.
She draws a crowd wherever she goes – and not just with her art. Back in Britain she used to belong to a professional hula hoop troupe and travelled the country performing in various venues. She brought her hoops along with her on the bike trip and wow, what a skilled performer.
At a locale that sparks her imagination, she pulls multiple brightly coloured, patterned, even LED hoops out of her bag and begins flawlessly-executed, fluid dance moves with hoops whirling around her arms and legs. It’s stunning and the people of India are crazy about the spectacle. One of her “hoop jams” can draw hundreds of people, which is a bonus for the rest of us – we get to watch Harriet and her bemused spectators.
She gave some of us a lesson one evening at Happy Hour and I must say, I think I did rather well, particularly after a couple of Kingfisher beers. I should, I certainly have the hips for it!