Debbie Smyth

Debbie Smyth is textile artist most identifiable by her statement thread drawings; these playful yet sophisticated contemporary artworks are created by stretching a network of threads between accurately plotted pins. Her work beautifully blurs the boundaries between fine art drawings and textile art, flat and 3D work, illustration and embroidery, literally lifting the drawn line off the page in a series of “pin and thread” drawings.

"In Full Swing" Installation Time Lapse

"I feel as if I am taking thread out of its comfort zone, presenting it on monumental scale and creating an eye-catching, and in some case jaw dropping effect"

"It's a Small World"

"Drawing With Thread"

Smyth plays with scale well; creating both gallery installations and works for domestic interiors. Her unique style  lends itself to suit corporate environments, public spaces, window display, set design, graphic design and illustration. By collaborating with interior designers, architects and other creative practitioners, she pushes the expected scope of her work even further.

On first glance, it can look like a mass of threads but as you get closer sharp lines come into focus, creating a spectacular image. The images are first plotted out before being filled out with the thread, the sharp angles contrasting with the floating ends of the thread.  And despite the complexity of the lengthy process I try to capture a great feeling of energy and spontaneity, and, in some cases, humour”

Smyth has worked with companies both nationally and internationally including Adidas, Mercedes Benz, Hermes, Ellesse, The New York Times, The Canadian Red Cross, Sony, and The Dorchester Hotel Group.

In a way, Debbie Smyth is an illustrator, but in a 3Dimensional sense, using thread and yarn to stand in as drawn pen lines and marks, and the whole room as the blank page illustrations are normally drawn on. Using pins and nails to control the shape of the drawings and lines of the thread, Smyth winds normally black yarn around the already pinned out shape like a spiderweb, and manages to create very intricate and somehow organised images and illustrations in an extraordinary way.

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Mixed Media

Drawing in thread but with the extra addition of cutout shapes; birds, figures and objects which give an extra dimension to the works.

"Ferris Wheel" (525x525mm)

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"In Full Swing"

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Shadows and light play with the semi translucent cutouts creating extra depth and giving the piece life.

"Up" (250x250mm)

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Sometimes extending the wandering lines creating quirky interruptions within the framing, which give a sense of theatre and presence that can’t be captured by images alone.

"Bird Triptych" 3x(250x250mm)

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Linear Works

Linear Works are drawings inspired by commonplace objects. Everyday we see strong linear structures, architectural forms, iconic objects; Smyth likes to capture these but play with the angles and perspective to give extra depth to her drawings.

"Left Luggage" (525x525mm)

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Shaded Works

Shaded Works are inspired by strong shapes and silhouettes, quirky outlines and mundane scenarios often conjured up from memories of her childhood.

"Stag Head" (525x525mm)

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Text Works

Pin and Thread depictions of various slogans, cute sayings and sweet nothings.

"True Love" (230x230mm)

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These beautifully decorative solid wood AlphaBlox are lovingly cut, painted, pinned and threaded by hand to give you a unique personalised artwork.

"Trolleyed" (525 x 525mm)

"Ship to Shore" (525x525mm)

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The outline is plotted and then gradually the negative space is filled and shaded with masses of thread, capturing movement and leaving the positive shape to shine through with a slightly ethereal quality.

"Balloon Man" (525x525mm)

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"Liberty Love" (250x250mm)

"Mini Home Sweet Home" (250x250mm)

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AlphaBlox have a shabby chic vintage feel,  as they are distressed in areas to reveal the wood beneath. The pins are accurately plotted before being securely hammered into the wooden block. Thread is then wrapped, knotted and wound around the pins to reveal an individual letter.

"Christ Church Spitalfields" (800x525mm)

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"Tightrope Walker" (525x525mm)

"Emma & Seamus" (525x525mm)

"Ursus Maritimus" (525x525mm)

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"Love is all you need" (250x250mm)

"Live What You Love" (250x250mm)

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The drawings are firstly plotted to give her the bare bones of the image. She then gradually exaggerates and adds more thread and knots, just like you would add shading with a pencil. Thread, such a pliable and soft material with great line quality.

"Ted" (250x250mm)

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By drawing this way, Smyth believes she manages to incorporate the animated nature of her creative practice into her works, almost leaving traces of her mental processes in capturing a subject.

"The Swing" (800x520mm)

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Firstly plotted and then exaggerated with lines of thread, to create a simple artwork that would sit well in any domestic interior.

"Home Sweet Home" (250x250mm)

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Main ideas/concepts Debbie Smyth has inspired:

  • Use of thread or other material to create new illustrative technique and style.
  • Using repeated and layered line to create different depths to drawing
  • Other materials can create different textures and marks than ordinary sketching and drawing does.
  • Weaving and winding thread/yarn around points to create shapes


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