A unique artist who specialises in creating sewn portraits in just 30 minutes has been roaming the streets of Bristol, immortalising locals in a giant sewn mural of the city and its people.

sewn portrait

Editor Amanda Nicholls in stitch

Harriet Riddell, Artist in Residence at the upcoming Affordable Art Fair, has spent the past few days stationed outside Watershed in a bid to stitch as many portraits as she could while those sitting for their portraits use a bicycle to power her machine.

She called on the people of Bristol to join her and be part of this giant creation – ahead of the final piece being unveiled when the Affordable Art Fair opens its doors on Friday 9 September.

The Bristol Magazine had the pleasure of welcoming Harriet into the office this week, allowing us to see her stunning craft up close and personal. After a great deal of puffing and panting on the beautiful Brompton Bicycle, we saw Harriet create a fantastically detailed portrait, complete with appliqué glitter fabric depicting our editor’s jewellery and clothing.

About Harriet Riddell

Harriet, who has appeared at the likes of Glastonbury and Wilderness festival, was first drawn to art at school, a passion which she developed during her university studies. Her talent for life drawing was translated into stitch, and InStitchYou was born. Since then Harriet has taken her sewing machine around the world, including India and Nairobi, creating work which responded to the sights and the locals with trademark humour and character.

Harriet will spend this week touring Bristol ahead of the Affordable Art Fair to sew some of the city’s famous landmarks, along with the people that make it what it is today.

Discussing the project, Harriet said:  “Anyone can take a picture, but there’s something really unique in the opportunity to actually sew a giant reflection of an entire city and the people that make it so special.”

“My love of sewing comes from my Grandmother. She uses found objects and a variety of techniques and materials to create some amazing textiles” – Harriet

sewn portrait clifton

Harriet sews Clifton Suspension bridge with pedal power from Affordable Art Fair’s Molly 

About The Affordable Art Fair

Sam Gare, Director for Affordable Art Fair Bristol, commented: “We have a proud history of supporting innovative new talent at the Affordable Art Fair, and so we’re delighted to announce artist Harriet Riddell as our Artist in Residence this year.”

affordable art fair

Coming to Brunel’s Old Station from 9 – 11 September, the Affordable Art Fair Bristol is set to welcome culture vultures in their droves and provide the perfect setting for art lovers to discover and purchase art from Bristol-based artists and beyond.

Now in its fifteenth year, the three-day event will be packed with workshops, live art demonstrations and exclusive pieces from hundreds of emerging and established artists from around 50 galleries.

The Affordable Art Fair has revolutionised and democratised the art market with its accessible approach, bringing art under £5,000 to its three UK locations: Battersea Park, Hampstead Heath, and Bristol.

It offers first time buyers and serious collectors a unique opportunity to browse and buy a huge variety of art under one roof, and has become a global phenomenon with 15 fairs in 11 cities across several continents.