We asked five questions of the five artists who participated in Northart’s very first exhibition in 1998 and have been invited back for ‘First Five’, one of two stunning shows celebrating Northart’s 20th anniversary (open daily until 27 November).

The third in our ‘First Five’ series is Scottish-born textile artist Freda Brierley.

What media do you work in and what attracted you to it?

I work mostly in the media of textiles – that is machine stitch with the addition of hand stitch and other fabrics as necessary to the piece.  I was attracted to this media because of a great love of thread and all manner of cloth. I began as a child doing hand embroidered small projects and progressed to more complicated works of my own design.

What artworks or achievements in the past 20 years are you most proud of?

I am proud to say that I have won many prizes for my work. I have exhibited widely in New Zealand and overseas and I feature in a number of books and both national and international magazines.

What role has Northart played in the development of your career?

Northart has given me the opportunity to exhibit as bona fide artist in a well-run professional organisation alongside many talented people.

How did you react to Wendy’s call inviting you to revisit the ‘5/100 New Zealand Craft Artists’ show for Northart’s 20th anniversary?

I was happy to accept Wendy’s invitation to be a part of the new ‘5/ 100 New Zealand Craft Artists’ show. I thought it would give me the incentive to look back and evaluate.

Tells us about the works you have selected for ‘First Five’. Are any of them from the original Northart exhibition?

I managed to locate three out of the five pieces I originally exhibited. I’m not quite sure how I feel about them or how they will be received after all this time. I could just say, “that that was then.” Better or worse, the rest is now.

How has the exercise made you reflect on your own practice and its development over the past 20 years?

With the comparison of then and now, somehow I feel something has been lost along the way, whether it be a looser way of working or more thought provoking imagery. The whole exercise has made me look hard at where I want to go next – a kind of walk backwards into the future.

Born in Dundee, Scotland, Freda Brierley is a textile artist working primarily in machine stitch embroidery. She was taught embroidery by her mother and wanted to go to art school, but instead trained as a nurse. It wasn’t until after she moved to Devonport when her husband transferred to the Royal New Zealand Navy that she was finally able to fulfil her dream, graduating with a diploma in fine arts from Whitecliffe College. Her work has been exhibited at the Barbican in London and at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. Freda is one of Northart’s longest standing members and is also a life member of the North Shore Embroiderers Guild.