Write 500 words on a piece of work by one contemporary artist – photographer, who uses the archive as a source material.
Stacey Page is a mixed media artist from Georgia, USA. She’s previously worked with paint, clay and wood, however, in her most recent pieces, similarly to artist Julie Cockburn, she has settled on using found photographs with the addition of different coloured thread.
Like Cockburn, Page takes old, found photographs she finds in auctions, and adorns the people in them with unique and elaborate headdresses and masks, hand stitched directly onto the photograph with thread. When asked about how she chooses the photographs she works with, and why she has settled with using thread as her medium, in an online interview, Page quoted,
“The photographs start as a lost, discarded or mortal identity…. (They) are extinctions or discarded, and I don’t begin by having any relation to them….They choose me as I find them attractive in some way or another. It is the beginning of a relationship, so naturally I want someone usually quite healthy and engaging….The photographs mostly come from obscure auctions in the backwoods of Georgia which in themselves can be more bizarre than the art itself. 
“Thread is such an accessible medium. It isn’t too dangerous and I enjoy the portability with such little prep and clean time.” 
Once she has chosen her desired photograph, deciding where to start and what design to hand stitch, can be a tough decision. Page often spends a lot of time staring at the photograph throughout the whole process, enabling a relationship and a bond to develop between them. She uses paper to sketch different designs, playing around with different colours and types of stitches that may work. Taking inspiration from the ‘obscure and bizarre backwoods of Georgia’, where many of these photographs were found, her final pieces tend to focus around an obscure fantasy theme with mythical creatures. These creatures are then hand stitched onto or around the subject, like a mask, headdress or an aura, flowing from inside and around their being.
When asked about her inspiration for her pieces, Page quoted,
“It can come from naturally occurring conflicts. One example would be the inner versus outer being. This conflict entails simple observations one might have about themselves regarding fashion, status, ego, and avatar.” 
Coming up with unique, and different designs for each photograph can be challenging, and depending on the size and type of photograph, her relationship with it can become strained and frustrated, causing her to sometimes loose her momentum with her inspiration and the photograph all together, thus meaning that she prefers to work on smaller scale photographs, as they are more convenient and rewarding in the end, whereas larger photographs are more time consuming. However, she does continue to experiment with the larger sizes now and then.
“…It is difficult for me to know when to stop with a work…. The sketch sometimes changes with the embroidery, and there is a nice history of my friend’s transformation.” 
I really admire Julie Cockburn’s hand embroidered work, however they seem to be all the same, for example all circles or geometric designs. In a way, I prefer Page’s work more than Cockburn’s as each one is unique and intriguing to look at. Page creates beautiful, textured and colourful pieces of art, and you can see from how detailed and precise her pieces are, just how much time and work she puts into each piece. I can see and feel more character and ‘life’ in Page’s pieces when I look at them, more so than those by Cockburn. Despite these photographs being old, discarded, inanimate objects, which had no future, I believe Page somehow manages to breath a new life into each one, giving them each their own individual character and story. Although she mentions that she does fall out with some of these pieces when she is creating them, I can’t help but think that she does really care about them and slowly becomes attached to them, which is why her relationship with them can become frustrating. After all, she does name them.
“The photographs at the time we are done, I know them by name, which is given.” 
I really admire her work, and find the use of thread as a medium very interesting. I had not seen this type of work done before, until I researched Julie Cockburn, so finding Page’s work for me was a new experience. I would love to try and make a piece similar to these pieces of art, however, I honestly wouldn’t know where to begin. I have no experience using fine needles and thread on old photographs, however, it is something I am willing to try.
HENRY, LEONARD, TODD, BETH, JESS, PAULA. Stacey Page. Photographs are copyrighted to Stacey Page. ( I have only included them for research purposes, which the OCA advised was ok )
[1 – 5] Quotes taken directly from interviews with Stacey Page, from the websites below.
http://www.staceypage.com/ ( Accessed 02/03/2018 )
The Cutting ( & Stitching ) Edge – Stacey Page. 08/09/2011, By Mr X
https://www.mrxstitch.com/stacey-page/ ( Accessed 02/03/2018 )
Stacey Page artist interview: Using thread to explore ego & avatar. 24/05/2012, by Tessa Hulls.
http://www.redefinemag.com/2012/stacey-page-interview-embroidered-photographs/ ( Accessed 02/03/2018 )