Michala Gyetvai – artist and textile artist
I first discovered Michala’s work in a Stitch magazine in 2009. There was something about it which just lifted my spirits and said something to me so I was excited to see her name on our programme.
Michala arrived with a wonderful selection of her work. Examples of all dimensions – wall hangings, smaller pieces, brooches, cards and of course her amazing sketchbooks. So much to see that her visual presentation was not really necessary. Michala started by telling us about her happy childhood when she played outside with her sister and how she would often pick wool off fences to use in her projects . At school her A level course was a combination of fine arts and embroidery and after leaving school Michala worked for Laura Ashley for 16 years.
The inspiration for Michala’s work comes from landscapes and she left several of her sketchbooks out for us to look through. The paintings are then translated into textiles. Poetry and music are also important to her and Michala read a poem entitled, “thank you” and another which was about the felling of Dutch Elms and the emotional effect it had on her.
Michala won a competition in Coventry and the prize was to put on her own exhibition in 18 months’ time. This was a wonderful opportunity but quite a challenge as she had to design much larger creations.
The practical side of Michala’s work was of great interest to us and she explained how she gets into the zone when stitching and the large hangings can take 2 or 3 years to complete. She has a wonderful selection of machine and hand threads and talked about using shiny and matt threads to get the desired effects. She uses different weights of woollen blankets as backing and therefore they move and distort with increased stitching. Michala held up a number of her wall hangings and talked us through the story behind several of them. A trip to India to visit her sister completely changed her colour palette on one of the hangings.
During lockdown Michala drew her garden each day and ended up with a visual diary of drawings which she shared with friends and family. She is giving a digital copy of the diary to Coventry University for their archive as a record of the time when people could not venture out.
Over the years Michala has displayed her work at a number of exhibitions and has exhibited alongside the sculpturer George Wagstaffe. Under the art exchange scheme, Michala has worked in Dresden in Germany which is linked with Coventry, close to her home town of Kenilworth and in August she plans to return.
Thank you Michala for a fantastic afternoon and I know a group of our members will have a wonderful time at your workshop tomorrow. I am so pleased I treated myself to one of your brooches as a happy reminder of your visit!
Report and photos: Ros L
Michala’s website: http://www.michalagyetvai.co.uk/
Warwickshire Open Studios: https://www.warwickshireopenstudios.org/summer/2022/michala-gyetvai