Irish Artist Makes Magnificent Surreal Masks That Speak To Modern Concerns
Threadstories is a visual artist from Ireland who has been making waves with her sea creature-esque masks, made from colourful threads she intricately weaves onto a ground surface. As a child she was exposed to handicrafts such as knitting, crochet and numerous other domestic textile craft, which her mother and grandmother ultimately passed onto her.
“By the time it reached me I could twist and manipulate the techniques to explore ideas and create art objects, and not make clothing or blankets out of a need to maintain a home,” she explains.
The mask-making compulsion, as she calls it, came into being just before a music festival, for which she wanted to wear one. During some experimentation, she stumbled upon the technique that she has been using ever since: “It began with making a balaclava, which I had never done before and which acted as a surface on which I started to form and sculpt by adding threads. This method of building a malleable wearable form struck me as having endless potential.”
Nowadays she crochets, tufts, dyes, bleaches, scribbles, performs, photographs and films to bring the pieces into existence. “My making process is experimental — once a mask is photographed or filmed, the exploration of form and movement is finished for me and the physical mask is ready to be deconstructed and reconstructed. Reworking the masks over and over allows me to push ideas forward at a faster pace — I get more satisfaction from being experimental than precious. Generally speaking, I’d say I work intuitively. There are no designs or drawings in advance, I’m thinking with my hands.”
Threadstories has become the visual manifestation of her thoughts on social media, she explains.
“As a visual artist I am fascinated by how we sanitise, edit, manipulate and manufacture our lives and our appearance on social media, whether intentionally or not. My masks are visual interpretations of this behaviour, they portray mutations of our private and public selves.” It’s why she always keeps the face of the mask-wearer obscured. “The masks deny the viewer the full story of who the sitter is, echoing the curated or false personas we view online daily.