About Salley Mavor

About Salley Mavor

“My earliest memories have to do with making things by hand and expressing myself through art. What I make today and how I do it, is a culmination of a life-long search to find ways of translating what I imagine into something real to share.”

A needle is my tool, thread is my medium and stitches are my marks. For over 40 years, I’ve created 3-dimensional hand-stitched artwork that ranges from precious to poignant to provocative. In addition to stand alone pieces, my work is applied in many ways, including children’s books, editorial illustration and stop-motion animation. All along my goal has been to share my vision in an intimate way, with a wider audience than is usually found in a gallery setting. 

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Where did this doll-infested needle and thread universe come from? It began at the height of the baby boom, in a family of introverts who were either making things or staring into space. You could say that we excelled at parallel play.

Manipulating materials in my hands was so much more satisfying than rendering with a pencil or brush. Instead of trying to keep in step using traditional mediums, I discovered that with stitching, I could dance the fandango! I found that my hands would direct me in a compelling way and I could communicate ideas more clearly. For most of my career I have followed this path, creating sculptural scenes in bas-relief, much like miniature, shallow stage sets, with figures imposed on embellished fabric backgrounds.

I am interested in universal, playful narratives that reflect the society we live in today. I want to transcend the fiber medium by and of itself and make art that is valued for its message and emotional resonance as well as the materials and techniques I use.

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Some of my embroidered pieces are photographed and reproduced in children’s books, including the 2010 award-winning Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes. My bestselling how-to book of doll projects, Felt Wee Folk: New Adventures continues to inspire creativity. Personally autographed books, cards and posters with printed reproductions of my embroidered scenes are available in my Etsy Shop.

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My new work moves away from the land of innocence and into real world issues and current events. I strive to find the beauty within the struggle and strife, as in my 2016 piece Displaced.

After the 2016 presidential election, I formed a satirical wee folk drama troupe, The Wee Folk Players  (they’re a stitch). Also, my husband Rob Goldsborough and I made a short stop-motion animated film titled Liberty and Justice : A Cautionary Tale in the Land of the Free.

WGBH (1 of 1)

My solo exhibit Liberty and Justice was abruptly cancelled in 2018 at its original venue due to its political content. The show was generously picked up by the New England Quilt Museum and the Cotuit Center for the Arts and portions were included in The Art of Cute at the Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk, Maine. You can watch my interview about the Liberty and Justice exhibit on WGBH TV and read the post Finding My Voice, which includes an excerpt of my talk about making art that is both precious and provocative.

My new book, MY BED: Enchanting Ways to Fall Asleep around the World was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in September 2020. You can see blog posts showing the book’s progress here. SALLEY MAVOR: Bedtime Stitches, an exhibition of the original bas-relief artwork for the book began touring the United Sates in Sept, 2020. The current schedule is here. Inquiries from museums are welcome – please contact me (salley at weefolkstudio.com) for information about hosting the show.

See how I made the illustrations for my new picture book, MY BED in this 8 minute documentary.

I live and work on Cape Cod, in Falmouth, Massachusetts. For answers to frequently asked question, please go to the FAQ Page. Contact me (salley at weefolkstudio.com) or write to P.O. Box 152, Woods Hole, MA 02543.

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  • Subscribe to this blog (top right column of Home Page).
  • Posters, cards and autographed books are available in my Etsy shop.
  • Contact me via e-mail (salley at weefolkstudio.com) or write to P.O. Box 152, Woods Hole, MA 02543
  • Visit my Facebook Page. Follow me on Instagram.

Rabbitat is a short documentary video about my work:

Interviews

Book trailer for Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures

Information

  • Posters, cards and autographed books are available in my  Etsy shop.
  • To see a list of all of my books, go to My Books.
  • Watch videos about my work: Videos Page
  • For info about upcoming exhibits, talks and book signings, visit the Events Page.
  • Frequently asked questions: FAQ Page

Self Portrait: A Personal History of Fashion (pictured below) is on semi permanent display at the Woods Hole Public Library. Posters of the piece are available in my Shop here.

 

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Poster – Self Portrait

 

 

Recent Posts

WHAT A RELIEF installation

If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that my artwork runs the gamut from precious to poignant to provocative, making it hard to categorize. One thing is for certain, I love creating and sharing my vision with you, whether on social media, in books or in person! This summer, from now until Sept. 11th, there’s an opportunity to see over 150 of my bas-relief pieces and sculptural objects at the Brick Store Museum in the quintessential New England town of Kennebunk, Maine.

WHAT A RELIEF at the Brick Store Museum

The retrospective exhibition, WHAT A RELIEF: The Art of Salley Mavor contains a large selection of my life’s work, showing everything from a folksy fairy world to full-frontal nudity (in the Garden of Eden). The exhibition spans over 40 years, from early in my career to the present day. Rarely seen works on loan from private collections fill multiple galleries on the Museum’s entire first floor. The show is laid out somewhat chronologically, so visitors can see the evolution of my style and techniques through the years..

Brick Store Museum block, Kennebunk, Maine

So what’s my connection to the Brick Store Museum? In 2019, my recent topical pieces, including Displaced and the animated film, Liberty and Justice were included in their exhibit “The Art of Cute”. The show, which was curated by the Illustration Institute, included a broad spectrum of art and products that could be considered “cute”, from endearing to edgy. My topical and political work were part of the Meta cute or “beyond” cute category. The museum received such rave reviews about my work that we immediately started planning a larger solo exhibit and here we are!

The Art of Cute at the Brick Store Museum in 2019

Curating a show of this size takes a lot of time and preparation. In addition to figuring out what to include, I’ve spent the past couple of years studying the museum’s floor plan and visualizing how my work could be organized in the galleries.

Since it is a retrospective exhibition, I needed to track down people who’d purchased my work decades ago. My records are spotty, so I don’t know where everything ended up, but I was able to contact several owners who live within a reasonable driving distance who were willing to loan their pictures for the duration of the exhibit. So, in the early spring, I personally picked up artwork from various locations around New England. It was wonderful to meet some owners for the first time and hear how much they’ve enjoyed living with the pieces for 25 to 40 years! After bringing them back home, I removed the artwork from their frames and cleaned the glass, as well as took digital photos. Keeping them protected under UV glass for all these years really made a difference because they were in excellent condition inside.

In addition to early work on loan, the exhibition includes more recent pieces that I’ve purposely not offered for sale, so that they are available to exhibit. One consequence of all this laborious hand stitching, is that it takes forever to accumulate enough work to have a solo show. For instance, I completed just 3 pieces in the past year and a half (Frosty Morning, Mossy Glen and Harvest Time), even though I spent every spare moment working on them. At this stage of my career, I feel that the value of my work lies in its ability to be shared publicly. So that means I’ll be holding onto my recent work for the time being. See a schedule of current and upcoming exhibitions here.

Two weeks ago, Rob and I stuffed a UHaul cargo van with crates and boxes filled with artwork and drove up to Maine to deliver everything to the Museum. We spent a few days helping the staff set up the show, which you can see in photos and videos further ahead in this post. We left before the installation was fully completed, so we’ll take more pictures when we go back for the opening event on June 25th.

WHAT A RELIEF: The Art of Salley Mavor
Brick Store Museum
117 Main St., Kennebunk, Maine
June 7th thru Sept. 11th
Meet the Artist on June 25th, 1 to 3 PM

Once the artwork was unpacked, the museum staff got to work installing the show. Here’s Leanne Hayden, the collections and exhibition manager hanging Noah’s Ark and a group of ornaments over the mantelpiece in the first gallery. I made the ornaments about 10 years ago for the Family Trees event at the Concord Museum.

One wall in the center gallery features enlarged photographs of women from my piece, Cover Up. Their faces are blown up to about 12 times the size of the 1″ wooden bead doll heads. I like playing with scale, taking something tiny and making it huge. They certainly demand your attention when you walk into the room.

Cynthia Walker, the museum’s executive director, skillfully hung the prints on the wall with sticky Command strips.

I was so impressed by how quickly everything went up. While I set up sculptural items in display cases, Cynthia and Leanne measured and hung the framed pieces.

Props and characters from the animated film Liberty and Justice.

In this video, I bring you around the room, pointing out what’s on display.

With her baby and dog looking on, Cynthia hung Bedtime Stitches. How impressive is that?

The Bedtime Stitches portion of the exhibit has been touring for the past 2 years and is scheduled at other locations around the US through 2024.

Video tour of Bedtime Stitches

It’s wonderful to hear that the exhibition is already attracting many visitors from near and far. I look forward to meeting some of you at the opening event on Sat., June 25th from 1 to 3 PM. And for those of you from very far away, we’ll take more photos and share them!

To keep up with new posts, please subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page). Your contact info will not be sold or shared. If you’d like to see more frequent photos tracking the projects in my studio, please follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram

  1. Mossy Glen: Part 8 – wee folk 6 Replies
  2. Mossy Glen: Part 7 – Violets and Berries Leave a reply
  3. Mossy Glen: Part 6 – stitched leaves 3 Replies
  4. Mossy Glen – part 5: Leaves 4 Replies
  5. Mossy Glen – part 4: forsythia 12 Replies
  6. Mossy Glen: Part 3 – stone walls 9 Replies
  7. Mossy Glen: Part 2 – Cherry Trees 10 Replies
  8. Bedtime Stitches opens in Lincoln, NE and other news 4 Replies
  9. Mossy Glen: Part 1 (moss) 10 Replies