Scott Ramsay Kyle is an artist based London. I came across Scott’s work really recently and I found it very appealing. I love the way he can transform very suggestive images into a colourful piece of art using embroidery, even though this is a very old fashioned way of manipulating fabrics. The fact that he works mostly with gay porn images might also have picked my interest. Anyway, I decided to contact him to get to know a bit more about Ramsay’s art.
KALTBLUT: How did you come to Embroidery?
Scott: I started back at art school; I trained at The Glasgow School of Art and then completed my MA in Fashion at Central Saint Martin’s in London. I enjoy the repetitive action of sewing, the thread, the tension of the base fabric and cloth in one hand, and the other hand directs the stitches. It’s quite meditative and as an art practice can also be masochist, which I empathize with a lot, I like to push myself mentally, physically and emotionally. When embroidering there are aches and pains, it can be pretty boring doing it for hours, but my stitch marks are meant to look like painted brush strokes so it has an element of surprise. Originally I wanted to study fine-art printmaking but liked working with material and different fabrications so I opted for textiles.
KALTBLUT: Did you start on clothing or on images?
Scott: As a kid I was drawn to tactile objects, metallic’s, jewelry, broken toys, always making things with my hands. After my art school education, I stumbled into fashion design and textiles for fashion, so I started to decorate areas of the body (through the garment), onto odd placements and scale play on the body. The hands play a vital role for me, I have very nervous energy so I need to keep busy, and my mind can overwork too so I fill my time with a lot of work and have a very busy active social life too.
KALTBLUT: You mostly use your Embroidery on porn images. Why?
Scott: As I mentioned earlier, I was aware of the meditative repeat actions of stitching. I started to think about masturbation, the act of stitch meets the act of wanking. It can be quite similar, one’s awareness of body posture, the right hand does all the work (in my instance), the movement up and down, and then when the climax comes (either through ejaculation / or completing an embroidered art work), there is a sense of adulation, and you definitely want to do it again, it can be represented by the ultimate ‘money shot’, where the spunk can be symbolic, the stitches as well as the semen become embroidered motifs over a body. As I was developing these thoughts it seemed like fun to pull some images from my old porn stash I had when I was a kid.
KALTBLUT: Do you want to hide something with it or create a new motive somehow?
Scott: I like the idea that I embed something new into the images I work on and take ownership of them. I am still figuring out if I take the active or passive role / or both in this relationship with the beautiful men I create artwork on to. If I prick the paper and start to cover the muse with my stitches, I’m not sure if I see it as a form of me fucking the man, or I am fervently willing to be penetrated as I am exposing my own sexuality through these gestures. I am sexually versatile so I can feel both aggressive on top and vanilla on bottom; like sex, my art and thought process needs variety, there are still many layers for me to fully understand, I think every time I make-work I am seeking something new out about myself.
KALTBLUT: How do you choose the images you’ll work on?
Scott: The magazines were old porn magazines I had when I was in my early teens. I kept them safe as I had closeness with the men I used to wank over. I look at them today and there is no sexual urgency for me, instead I feel a kindred spirit and connection with them, I remember how I would gaze at them in wonderment and hope one day I could experience such things with a beautiful man (or men). Now that today I have sexually experienced many things, intimacy, hot one-night stands, feeling loved and feeling heart broken, I wanted to pull the porn magazines out from their metaphorically hidden place under the bed and with my embroidery and mark making, challenge their place within society which is still bias for hetero-normative culture. This main body of work is called The Doors and Men of Paradise series; they can become even more beautiful and alive with my graphic artwork on top of them.
KALTBLUT: Is about re-creating or destroying the original picture?
Scott: I think it is about heightening them; there is nothing more beautiful than the naked or nude body. In a lot of the pictures I work with, they are staged and posed (either for a porn shoot or movie). By actively drawing over these in my stitch work I feel I am making them free and more available to both a wider audience and also the connotations of gay sex and pornography. Today we can vividly see any parts of the naked body via hook up apps, websites, snap-chat and texts messages. There is nostalgia in the 80’s / 90’s magazines I work with; I am a pre-internet kid where the world felt smaller and the gay world even more so, the kids today are so much more savvy and in my opinion freer sexually, so long as people look after themselves mentally and emotionally, it’s an amazing and tough generation to grow up in.
KALTBLUT: Can you tell us about your creative process from searching from the picture till when you think the picture is done?
Scott: I am drawn to the beautiful men I use to fantasize over. At times I use the torn pages directly from the magazine, or sometimes I will create layers from photocopying and scaling up to create off sized juxtapositions. There are many connotations of craft and twee representations when working with embroidery; I want to show boldness and graphic energy in my work. I am never truly sure any project or piece of work is done, sometimes the addition of a last colour or one shape can make me feel ready to walk away and start anew. I have a few fabric blankets that still aren’t finished and they were started when I had my heart broken 5 years ago, it’s a nice way to focus sad and angry energy.
KALTBLUT: You created several mini collections. Only womenswear…but men’s are your main production when its comes to your canvas… Why?
Scott: When I left my MA Fashion at Central St Martin’s in 2007, for a few years I felt I had to keep creating garments to show my textile work on. It was never an ambition or agenda to have a label or design and sell my own collections, I just had to keep doing some form of work as London is so tough to financially survive and to make money to pay the rent whilst finding the time to be creative; most graduates take a while to find their feet. I have always stayed true to making my own version of work through my needle and thread; embroidery took precedent most of the time. For many years I have worked for many high-end luxury labels as a consultant, often the fee includes a non-disclosure in discussing who they are, but I have had some lovely experiences, travelled and met some incredible people through that work and seen my work grace catwalks and editorials.
KALTBLUT: If I am correct, you’re not doing fashion anymore… and just focusing lately on your imagery. Is there a particular reason for that?
Scott: I think I will always have some connection to fashion, I like the processes and the many people it takes to create collections, it’s a multi-faceted and collaborative process throughout to conceive fashion, which I highly respect. I also work part time as a Senior Lecturer at Middlesex University in Fashion directorate, so the vast skills I have acquired in design and making in the past are still utilized and bestowed at best to my students. I think to teach is a huge responsibility and striving for my students to work hard, and be ambitious with their projects is something that interest me. However, as I am developing my own work and research, I feel more in-tune with image making and layering qualities through collage and mixed media.
KALTBLUT: What are you working on at the moment?
Scott: There are some really good projects coming up. I have collaborated on House of Holland’s men’s collection for SS17, I have also collaborated on some new work for Judy Blame at his ICA London show Never Again that opened on 28th June. I also have an art exhibition in East London at the Archive Gallery, which opens the first week of September 2016 and runs for one week, this is a joint show with artist and designer Louise Gray. Louise and I are old friends from our college days and have both work along side each other it feels that at present we are both asking similar questions within our art practices, which is why it feels the natural progression to exhibit together.