From The Heart: A Journey into the Embroidery Artistry of Liv Enqvist

Welcome to the first instalment of our new ‘From The Heart’ series, a monthly feature taking you into the hearts and minds of creative and colourful people we admire. We hope these stories inspire you and brighten your day.

Liv at her studio in Byron Bay

Working with embroidery, Swedish artist Liv Enqvist creates colourful works that are inspired by the world and words that surround her.

Liv Enqvist grew up in a creative family in Stockholm, Sweden. “I grew up around very free thinking and creative parents who would make all sorts of things. My mum loves textiles and I still use my grandmother’s sewing supplies.” After studying film, fashion, visual arts and set design, her creative practice originally focussed on paper sculptures and collage, moving into embroidery only recently. “I only really started embroidering when I was on a six-month long trip around the world – it was my mobile art studio adapted to a suitcase. The trip ended up with me and my husband living in Byron and I just fell in love more and more with the possibilities of textile art.”

Liv taking her ‘Sun Of My Heart’ embroidery art to the ocean

Liv’s art informed how she came to know her new home in the Northern Rivers and pushed the boundaries of what people traditionally think of as embroidery.

“Embroidery was traditionally a domestic activity for women, it was also not counted as an art form, only considered a lower craft for a long time. I wanted to take it out of that context and make it more alive, not being precious about it. I like how the pieces change once I take them out of my studio into nature. I love that it’s unpredictable and there are so many factors that change how things look.”

Liv holding her Dadirri embroidery, inspired by the Aboriginal concept of deep listening and quiet awareness coined by Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr. All proceeds from the artworks sale go to Miriam's foundation, benefiting Indigenous youth.

“I used my embroidery to get to know my surroundings, a sort of conversation between me and the elements and Country, there is so much to learn and to see. I long for what is real and Nature is exactly that.”

Having lived in Sweden, Japan, Italy, England and now, Byron Bay, Liv weaves the influences of these landscapes and languages into her works. “All those places have shaped my internal landscapes with their cultures and languages. Byron’s landscapes still blow my mind every day, just walking out and to see the vast horizon or the stars at night. It’s incredibly varied and so beautiful, from waterfalls to beaches to the bluest skies I’ve ever seen. It has definitely shaped my art practice. I am deeply grateful to the custodians and elders of this Country, it’s a truly unique place on earth and I hope we can all protect it together.”

Liv stitching her last embroidery creation at her studio in Byron Bay

Working from her home studio, Liv meticulously stitches words, phrases and images onto colourful textiles. “I always loved languages. I feel inspired by music and books, but often I just get words flashing into my mind, popping into my head. I love poetry and meditations but also random stuff like a food menu or a user’s manual. Inspiration is everywhere.”

“The ideas come quickly and easily which is a nice contrast to the stitching, which is a slow, contemplative practice.”

Her colour choices also come easily – either through the following of a certain instinct or craving, memories of travel or from books. “It’s almost like a hunger, a craving for certain colours. Recently I came back from a trip to Asia and I felt so inspired by all the colour combinations I saw. My secret, not-so-secret favourite book is a tiny colour dictionary from Japan that was first printed in the 1930’s.”

Liv showing us one of her creations at her studio in Byron Bay

For Liv, her art practice isn’t just a way to bring her own thoughts and ideas into the physical world, but to also bring people together and teach others to mend and embroider “I believe that we need to create ways to meet in real life, using our hands and our creativity because it’s what makes us human. Embracing what it is to be imperfect human beings. My dream is to create a community of makers who share moments of joy, a little break from the screens, an opportunity to connect to oneself and to others.”

Liv surrounded by nature, wearing the colour Passion

“Art is how we transmute pain into beauty. To me, it is necessary because it got me through the darkest and loneliest of times. It’s a way to process emotions and make sense out of this world, sometimes it’s sharing a feeling or observation to say ‘This is how I see it, do you?’”

To see more of Liv’s art and to join her next workshops or exhibitions, follow her on Instagram and visit her website. We hope you have loved her as much as we have, she is truly a joy. X Danielle and the team at Sienna. Liv is wearing the colour 'Passion'.

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