Born and brought up in Taiwan, Shuya Cheng now lives in Bath, UK. A self-taught artist having begun her journey working in the fashion industry, Shuya spent time as a graphic designer before experimenting with abstract form in a variety of mediums.
Shuya divides her time in her studio between using her sewing machine to explore patterns, shapes and structures found in the world around us through free hand embroidery and creating abstract paintings, primarily in acrylic but utilising a wide range of techniques and multi-media. Her inspiration comes from both Western and Eastern culture. The themes in her work vary but are rooted in her upbringing, culture and the transitions, personal and geographical, that she has experienced.
Inspired by patterns and textures found in the natural and man-made world, I create intricate freehand machine embroideries, which are then elegantly suspended in shadowboxes. These physical phenomena become absorbing abstract studies – with each piece of work consisting of thousands of tiny stitches interlinked to capture the form and essence of structures that are often overlooked by the everyday observer.
Inspired mainly by photographs, such as images of cells underneath a microscope, a final design is created on water soluble fabric as a guideline. Many hours are then spent on the sewing machine sewing small interlocking stitches. The fabric is then dissolved leaving the embroidery. This is pinned to watercolour paper and foam board using glass beads to suspend and alter the height before being fixed in place. The finished embroidery is then displayed in a shadow box – as naturalists displayed their specimens in the past.
I am drawn to this art form because the lines and form are so deceptively simple at first glance. I seek to take a physical structure such as a leaf skeleton and through the creative process bring an abstract element which makes the viewer pause and take a closer look at the intricacies.
My work has to speak to me and I hope therefore it will speak to others. For me, the 3d effect created by the shadows brings the piece of art to life. Stillness and movement are both an integral part of each piece. They are floating; they are moving; they are alive.