Frayed at the edges: We interview Adele Deloris Riley

03 March 2023
Meet Adele Deloris Riley... she subjects old bedsheets, pillowcases and curtains to an intense fraying technique. The deconstructed fabrics are transformed into wonderfully calming pieces of wall art you want to reach out and touch.

Where did it all begin?

My interest in textiles was ignited by the women who raised me. I remember my Grandmother spending hours knitting or crocheting placemats. But seeing her work wonders on the sewing machine - creating anything from clothes to curtains - always fascinated me. If I was not learning the art of sewing from her, I would be found watching my Mum doing embroidery or touring the Manchester Art Museum and galleries with my Aunt. I was immersed in needlepoint tapestries of florals and affirmative statements adorning the walls of our Caribbean household. These were my early years of growing up in Manchester and they formed my love for arts and craft.


What about formal training?

I discovered fashion design and applied to study womenswear at Central Saint Martins in London. The course allowed me to realise my aesthetic and artistic sensibilities. My final degree show exemplified my ongoing experimentation with manipulating materials and creating tactile textures. The techniques invented then are still used in my work today.


How did you get to where you are now?

I’ve got over ten years of experience in the fashion industry, working with brands on couture and ready-to-wear collections in Paris, New York, London and Hong Kong. This has informed my meticulous attention to detail, use of colour and my love for slow art. Deciding to focus on creating fibre and textile artworks full-time felt like a natural progression.

Adele Delores Riley's detailed fibres

What matters to you within your art?

I have always been captivated with textiles and fabric manipulation processes. Changing the aesthetic of an everyday material into tactile luxurious fibres and transforming them into original artworks is my true passion. The lengthy deconstruction and reconstruction of fabrics provides a therapeutic and joyous outcome.


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What appeals about second-hand fabrics?

Having a sustainable approach, I often visit local charity shops on the hunt for bed linens and curtains that I can use to apply my array of fraying techniques; breathing new life into fabrics that would otherwise be discarded brings more fulfilment to the practice.


Do you have a favourite fabric?

I am constantly being surprised by the materials I use so it would be hard to choose one. The transformation is probably the part I enjoy the most as I’m never quite sure what the outcome will be. I am enthralled by how the materials take on a life of their own in the reconstruction process. The way they represent splashes of colour to indicate sea anemones and corals of the Caribbean Sea.


And looking ahead?

My hope for the future is to continue to provide joy through my work. I often receive feedback of how uplifting and calming the pieces are to look at. It would be a dream to exhibit a solo show that educates the viewer on sustainability and the impact we have on our planet to encourage positive change.

Keep in touch with Adele at: 

Detailed textures

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