On June 22, 2016, South African embroidery artist Danielle Clough was featured in the New York Times. The Cape Town native, known for her creative thread drawings, has been making art since she was a young girl. Now, her art has reached the international stage.
According to the Times, Clough first realized her artistic potential at age 12 when her doodles caught the eye of a classmate, who said she’d gladly get it as a tattoo. Thanks to this praise and her own creative ambition, Clough kept experimenting into her teens and twenties.
Her experimentations included photography and graphic design, which eventually led her to attend “The Red and Yellow School of Logic and Magic” where she studied art direction and advertising. Following her graduation, she worked a number of designs jobs, though it was her woven artwork she’d later be recognized for.
Clough first got the idea when she saw a pixelated heart image on a grid, which she decided to replicate in her own way. She went to the Milnerton Flea Market where she picked up some odd canvases: vintage squash, tennis, and badminton rackets. Milnerton Flea Market not only provided her with material, but inspiration. “I’ve been super-influenced by it,” she told the New York Times. “The selection is almost tasteless, or a little off-style and antiquated. I love it.”
Clough most famously embroiders on racquets, but that’s not all: chicken wire, coffee bags, and even shoes can be counted among the odd surfaces she makes her mark on. Her subject matter includes flowers, animals and nature, which she transfers onto surfaces by “drawing” them with colorful string.
Clough is not put off by anyone that ascribes embroidery to the elderly: at age 28, she knows that her approach is fresh and innovative. But she also understands why senior citizens enjoy the hobby. Clough often zones out on her sofa with her trinkets, keeping her hands busy all the while and taking time to enjoy the experience. “There is a rhythm to sewing that I find extremely calming, matched with an unadulterated celebration of color,” she writes for Bored Panda. “And then at the end I’ve produce something aesthetically pleasing, so there is great reward in that entire process.”
When not making art, Clough works as a visual jockey doing live music events in Cape Town. Though a larger audience than ever knows her name and her Instagram has amassed over 70K followers, the best has yet to come for this young woman. Her art is a testament to South Africa’s vibrant population and the creativity it radiates.