Embroidered photographs

Anzari 2

Maurizio Anzeri, Nicola, 2011

Working over old postcards and studio portraits is so common it’s almost become a new genre. There’s the example of Tom Butler who draws on the faces in old family portraits in a Dada vein. And the Welsh artist Tim Davies who erased postcards of bridges to make made a comment on connection and communication. These interventions combine the found object with manual and craft traditions.

A further example of this is Maurizio Anzeri who embroiders vintage studio portraits. These strange designs look almost like New Guinea masks.

I put tracing paper over the photo and draw on the face until it develops. Sometimes the image comes straight away, suggested by a detail on a dress or in the background, but with the majority of them I spend a lot of time drawing. Once the drawing is done, I pierce the photo with a set of needle-like tools I invented and take the paper away; the holes are obsessively paced at the same distance to convey an idea of geometry.

Maurizio Anzeri

Maurizio Anzeri, Edith 2011



Tim Davies, Bridge, 2011

The Wales pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale shows the work of Swansea artist Tim Davies. It includes some video pieces plus this installation of small framed artworks – postcards of bridges that have been sanded back to the structure.

Davies had read about the destruction of the famous arched bridge in Mostar, Bosnia, during the Balkans war. This act seemed to summarise the whole conflict, the destroying of connections, the prevention of opposing sides bridging their differences.

After collecting numerous postcards of bridges, he sanded them back to reveal only the bridge itself, the pure structural form; they make elegant design motifs. The missing landscapes make you think about what bridges do, how they join places together, make communication and commerce possible.