Meet the Artist: Joy Pitts

Joy Pitts is based in Derbyshire. In 2004 she graduated with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art from Nottingham Trent School of Art and Design and followed by an MFA the following year. She has exhibited regularly in the region and elsewhere in the UK and has been commissioned to produce work for clients such as Paul Smith, Liberty and Saville Row tailors. She has achieved prizes and awards and has participated in a number of residencies.


Joy Pitts Red Rabbit
Red Rabbit


Describe your practice for us:

My practice begins with used garments from which I gather the labels. These are carefully unpicked and sorted according to size, colour and finish. The work is assembled from new woven labels, which I use as my palette by pinning them onto stretched canvas to create images. The gathering of used labels occupies approximately fifty per cent of the creative process. The process of gathering material is concerned with individual identity; how clothing has the ability to illustrate our way of life, perhaps the daily ritual of work or a special occasion. This communication of individuality is about our selection of style, colour, pattern, texture, size and brand. It is concerned with the quality of the label whose purpose is to communicate status.


Joy Pitts Mute Swan with 5000 used labels
Mute Swan with 5000 used labels


How long have you been practising?

30,000 used labels have been assembled in sculpture or on stretched canvas over the past fifteen years, with the first four pieces winning prizes in open competitions.


Joy Pitts Yellow Bee with 104 garments
Yellow Bee with 104 garments


What is the most interesting/inspiring thing you have seen/been to over the last month, and why?

HELLO MY NAME IS PAUL SMITH at the Design Museum, Shad Thames, London, until 22 June 2014. I found this exhibition particularly inspiring; from the first small shop in Nottingham to collaborations with other designers and the work involved in presenting a fashion show. Paul Smith talked about the things that inspire him, how he uses colour in the design process and achieving a balance between the hand made and contemporary.


Joy Pitts Portrait of Jane
Portrait of Jane


Which other artists’ work do you admire, and why?

Books are a great source of inspiration to me, and include work by Van Gogh, Picasso, Damien Hirst and Grayson Perry. I always return to the work of Van Gogh with his use of complementary colours and loose brushwork.  I have also gathered a collection of books on cattle breeds, these are complemented by a wall hung trophy head of a red cow which once hung outside the butchers shop on the high street.


Where can people see your work? 

My work can be viewed on my website. A new work, a portrait of The Queen II assembled using names taken from a Derbyshire War Memorial, is being exhibited at No. 6 Sackville Street, London, W1S 3DD home to bespoke tailors Meyer & Mortimer by special invitation. With their historic connections to military uniforms, this unspoilt tailors shop in Mayfair will provide the perfect site-specific environment in which to remember these World War One fallen servicemen. The Queen’s portrait took 136 hours to create and used 125 grams of dressmaker pins.

Joy Pitts Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II


Copyright Joy Pitts 2016


Joy was first interviewed in August 2014.


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