We are delighted to introduce the extraordinary Olga Prinku as this year’s artist-in-residence for the James Cropper Wainwright Prize as it enters its tenth year. As an originator of the craft of flowers-on-tulle embroidery, Prinku’s work embodies the artistry we find in the natural world every day, as well as nature’s creative potential to enrich and make up our own creative practices. Most importantly, we share a muse with Olga: nature.
Combining dried and preserved flowers and plant-based materials with tulle fabric, Olga’s rich portfolio of artwork draws the eye to the unique structures of plant life we find around us, from the skeletal branches of woodland trees to delicate, intricate petals and tender berries. Detailed, fragile, and richly textured, Prinku’s art is an act of preservation of the natural world around us as well as a transformative act. She creates something new and imaginative from her materials, often inspired by motifs drawn from nature and traditional folkloric embroidery patterns or tapestries.
Living in North Yorkshire with her husband and son, Olga is a grower and forager herself, directly gathering the natural materials she finds around her to create her enchanting pieces:
“I take inspiration for my work from long walks in the countryside – observing how nature changes through the seasons, and how there’s beauty in plants that are often overlooked, and in every stage of a plant’s life cycle. I’m honoured to be a part of a prize that’s named after a man whose name is synonymous with long country walks, and that aims to inspire more people to develop their love and appreciation of the natural world around us”.
Beginning her career as a graphic designer and keenly crafting outside of work – knitting and wreath-making, primarily – her creativity grew into something beyond all her expectations. Olga bends the traditional embroidery technique by using natural materials as her thread, which forms the very structure and foundation of her work.
“When I first experimented with poking the stem of a flower (that I picked on my lawn) through net fabric in 2016, I could hardly have imagined the journey it would take me on. I’ve exhibited in galleries, collaborated on designs with fashion and homeware brands, and my first book came out in 2021 – Dried Flower Embroidery: An introduction to the art of flowers on tulle.”
The work itself involves getting a tactile feel for natural materials – both their strength and fragility: ‘I have a sense of being led by the plants themselves as I often freestyle to distribute the design within the space.’ Beautifully, Olga’s pieces are ever-evolving as the natural materials she uses take on a new form with time and age. In her art, nature’s transformative nature is exhibited.
We were inspired by Olga’s unique skill and ingenuity, her ability to push traditions and creative boundaries, and, of course, the natural spirit and structure at the heart of her art and every piece she creates. We are thrilled to have her as our artist this year as we celebrate 10 years of the Wainwright Prize and cannot wait to reveal her final pieces. Head to our socials to discover the very latest.