Maria Crean

Hello all.

Last week we popped over to see the School of Art and Design End of Year Show 2012 at the University of Ulster. There were so many talented souls there. One such gifted lady was Maria Crean, who we are delighted to have as our guest today.

“My Work is both sociologically & psychologically motivated. I am interested in social convention as well as the more medical side of psychology. I wish to discern who or what determines the ‘appropriate’ way to think & behave & at what point is a deviation from this behaviour considered abnormal. I believe we have become a hypochondriac nation obsessed with diagnosis & classification, obtaining a justification or solution for a problem which does not really exist.

I choose to work in the medium of cross stitch as I believe it to be representative of domesticity & women’s work, another issue that concerns me. I wish to give new life to the “kitsch” traditional samplers often seen in 19th & 20th century homes celebrating births & marriages.

I am particularly influenced by the new genre of textile artists subverting the traditional mediums,processes & concepts such as Mr X Stitch, Cayce Zavaglia, Severja Incruisiante, Alicia Ross & Carolyn Marsden.

Aside from working in retail, I use my artistic abilities to work as a face painter & run my own children’s entertainment business. I also have extensive experience completing arts based placements with special needs & primary school children. This year I have entered “Future Makers” & the RDS Craft & Student awards.I will be exhibiting in the University of Ulster Degree show 2012, & previous work will be exhibited at The Old Press Gallery in Cornwall, at their “Best of British” exhibition opening June 2012. After graduating I intend to study a ‘Diploma in Specialist Support for Teaching & Learning in Schools’ at BMC & proceed to apply for a PGCE with the intention of working with special educational needs children in primary schools.”

How and where are you today?

Tonight I am sitting in loaded with the cold, spoiling my cat and catching up on work. I have just received a new order of Aida fabric so hopefully tonight I will be getting back to designing new pieces for my phobia and fetish series.

How would you describe the journey that has brought you to this place? And was this the destination you had in mind?

I had always wanted to study art, from the age of around 4 or 5. I never thought I would end up a textile artist. After foundation I did the first year of my degree in painting but nothing clicked and I was extremely unhappy there. I have always been obsessed with the domestic, traditional, kitsch and femininity. I was always jealous of the projects friends in textiles were doing while I was studying painting so the logical step was for me to transfer.

I am extremely interested in both sociology and psychology, so my projects have always revolved around these. Unfortunately I missed many of the skills classes in first year so I was almost thrown in at the deep end. For my first year in textiles I played around with computerised machine stitch and free machining but I feel I finally found my niche when I began exploring traditional samplers and cross stitch in final year. It is still a battle because as much as I adore cross stitching, I must admit I do not have a great amount of patience! However I feel it is important to keep traditional hand crafts alive and contemporary as they have played such a huge role in women’s history.

Whilst I have always wanted to study art, I never would have imagined that I would end up a textile artist working on this subject matter, however I have to say I have never been in a happier and more comfortable place artistically.

Do you have a process to ensure you are in the right frame of mind to create?

When I find something extremely interesting, I am inspired to create something around it. I like my work to be thought provoking, and as my process often takes many weeks, I mentally investigate many avenues of the subject while I am making. It is during the making process that I usually contemplate, choose and mentally design my next piece or project. I begin by investigating a subject through literature and online research. If I find something interesting and thought provoking I like to think of it as a sign that the viewer will too. When designing I like to add some humour to my pieces, for example using cutesy imagery for dark and disturbing material.

I also love working with text and am addicted to collecting statistics on relevant subject matter. The stitching process is the most time consuming part of my process, I like to be relaxed and comfortable when I am sewing as no matter how under pressure you are, there is only so fast you can sew!

How do you think your background and culture influences your creations?

The culture of modern society definitely has a huge part to play in my work. I am interested in how life is nowadays “over dramatised” and how the globalisation of communication has led to a rise in “over sharing”. In 3rd world countries or 50 years ago, no one would have dreamt of seeking help for an irrational phobia or searching out others with a similar fetish to them. I believe my work to be a sign of the times we are in, a hypochondriac nation obsessed with classifying and labeling.

What does beauty mean to you?

I find things beautiful that are original and unique and that have a history or interesting concept behind them. I also find beauty in tradition and technique; I particularly admire things which take a long time or extremely skilful process for their creation. I admire determination & perseverance in creating certain things. I find things beautiful that have been handcrafted when it would have been much easier and less time consuming to create it digitally or mechanically.

If we had interviewed you when you were 11, what would you have told us you wanted to be when you grew up?   

Probably the same thing I would say now, I want to be an artist. Unfortunately now I realise that being a grown up has financial commitments and as much as I would love to be a 50’s housewife hoarding cats and sewing all day, now I just want to have a job that allows me enough spare time to continue with my art.

What advice have you received that you want everyone to benefit from?

I think the best advice I have received is to be confident in what you are doing. If you find your project interesting and engaging, and enjoy working on it, then there is no need for pre-approval or justification from anyone else. Other than that, do not worry about anything you can do nothing about! / /

Such fantastic work Maria, we are so delighted to have you in our, ever growing, family. You are so welcome.

handsome and pretty



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