In conversation: Hagar Vardimon
I am a little bit of a collage and texture enthusiast and I adore the work of Hagar Vardimon, I wrote to her and asked if she wouldn’t mind answering some questions and sharing her creative process with us, luckily she obliged!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a full time artist, living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I’m running my own studio, working on my art and on commissioned work.
I feel very fortunate to have a house in the center of the city. Our street ends on the Museumplein, the meeting point between the three most famous museums in Holland: Van Gogh museum, Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk museum. A wonderful source of inspiration just outside my front door.
I studied at Bezal Academy (B.F.A). When it comes to thread, I am self-taught artist. Until then I used to paint with oil and acrylic on big canvases.
My primary inspiration for working with thread has to do with my mother. She is an amazing weaver, working on a huge wooden loom. There were always baskets full of hand-dyed yarn, with rich, deep colors and wonderful (and sometimes strange) smells.
As a child, I used to make embroidery work with my mother. So, looking back it all started from there.
Having no formal fiber/textile training is a huge source of relief for me. I feel free to experiment, to invent and create my own method and path (a feeling that I didn’t have when I was painting…).
I’m experimenting a lot, with lots of trial and error. In my studio, I have boxes and drawers full with all sorts of experiments with threads, textile and paper. I enjoy the process of discovering new ways of working.
Describe your creative process.
Normally I am coming across an image that captures me and that will be the start of creating a new work or sometimes a new series of works.
Every image that I pick has a story I want to tell. The next step will be how to tell the story – I’m looking into the shape, details, space around the image & colors. This process sometimes can be short but sometimes I coming back again and again to the same images until its getting clear.
Your work tends to begin with a photograph, are these largely found images, how do you select what to use?
The photographs I’m working with are connected to the main subject, common to all my work; memories.
The photos are mainly from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. I love photos from this period.
I put lots of thought in understanding the relation between the objects in the photo. Finding the story inside the photo itself and then tell it with threads. It’s a story on top of a story.
The pieces for me are tangible and inviting.
Describe the significance of the threads, how do they alter the image?
Using threads is like using ink or color-paint to me. It is the material I use to express my ideas.
The threads on the paper create another layer on top the photos. Another dimension. A story on top of a story.
I love the tangible feeling and depth that the threads are adding to the work.
Because I’m using single thread, the layers are built slowly one after another. I love this process.
What’s it like to stitch on paper, how did this way of working come about?
When I started to work with threads on paper, it was a very exciting discovery for me. Working on a paper gives a completely different tension to the thread then working on textile. This was exactly what I was looking for. The straight lines are creating movement and dynamic of their own, giving the work another dimension.
It is not a traditional way of working with threads. The surface is hard and I had to experiment a lot to find the right method, the right threads and the right techniques, until I achieved the results I wanted. I still learn and test. It is a kind of challenge I like.
Many of the pieces with figures have their faces masked by embroidery, is there a reason behind this?
When I choose an image or a portrait, It’s not the person itself that interest me, it’s all the details around it. For instance the time period that the picture has been taken, the colors and the paper that it has been printed on.
Is the process of making as important or more important than the finished piece?
The process, no doubts! It’s the process that keeps my work evolving.
Satisfying result is wonderful, and yet is the process what I’m enjoying the most.
Do you keep sketchbooks or a visual diary?
Yes. I carry sketchbooks all the time, everywhere I go. I have small ones and very big ones.
I find it so important part of my creative process to draw, doodle or just write down thoughts or ideas. Can’t do without.
Do you render your ideas by hand or digitally?
All done by hand. I’m working digitally only before publishing the images of my works.
What do you think hinders your creativity?
Self doubts. With the years I learned to listen to this voices and then ignore them as fast as I can.
How important is marketing yourself and keeping your social media platforms up to date?
Very very important. I couldn’t get the opportunities and connections I have without being on social media.
It’s not coming easy or natural to me and I do struggle with it sometimes, but I completely acknowledge the fact that I can’t do without.
Your recent work looks like you are exploring collage in the traditional sense. How do you see your artwork evolving?
I don’t know…I’m in a very exciting creative time. I let myself try and experiment. At this moment I enjoy every bit of making handmade collages.
Have you any advice for students who may be struggling to move work forward?
Stay focused and true to yourself. Sometimes easier said than done, but a short break is all you need sometimes.
Thank you so much to Hagar for answering my questions, check out more of her work here