The Embroiderer

What we would do to be THIS talented at 16 years old. Deena Khan is an artist from Manchester, balancing school with producing these stunning handmade embroideries along with painted art too. We catch up with Deena to discuss how she managed all this, along with her dream Sunday and her favourite place to eat Manchester... 

How did you find your style & has it changed since you started? 

In terms of embroidery I found my style through art works by Josephine wall. When I was first introduced to her work I fell in love with it, how the smaller details in her work made her art more realistic and also the element of nature that was a recurring theme gave the idea of life and death an elegant touch which was what I antically wanted to incorporate in my work.


What’s the ultimate message in your work?

The meaning behind my work always changes. Sometimes I get an idea which wouldn't normally be interesting through words but would seem interesting through a visual interpretation so I'd use embroidery to put that idea across. Other times I use embroidery to put across issues that I feel need to be addressed.


What's your design process?

It's very time consuming, first I sketch up what I'd be embroidering and then sit in one place for a terribly long time (which isn't healthy at all) and start to sew which can usually take up to 10 hours depending on the size. 


Do you have any projects your working on that we should look out for?

I'm currently planning on collaborating with my sister, Saffa Khan, and we'll be working and printing a zine called 'Caramel' (title inspired by our skin tone), exploring the themes of culture, identity & art.


What's your dream Sunday? 

Food wise, a dark Forrest chocolate ice cream topped with mint chocolate chip and served with a shiny orange spoon. In terms of the day, a chilly day with me cuddled up in bed while watching either a sad romantic or a thriller movie while painting and worrying about school on Monday. 


What's your favourite place on the planet?

Probably a history museum, time flies fast when you visit the space themed area while being surrounded by planets. Another place would be home (not very interesting, I know). There's something very comforting about home that no other place has.


What advise would you give to someone just starting out?

If you're ok with giving up some of your social time and having back pains then you'll do fine. Don't feel guilty about being inspired by other people's work and using it as long as you are crediting and including your own interpretation.


How is your personality reflected in your work?

I'm a lover of plants so I try to incorporate nature as much as possible. I like to see myself as a very colourful individual so I like to try different combination of colours to imply the mood in my work.


Where's your favourite place to eat in Manchester?

In terms of food, I'm really enjoying traditional Korean food. Restaurants such as Ban Di Bul was a great first experience for a trying food from other cultures.


What do you personally think is an artist's role in society?

In my opinion, it's to able to engage with their audience, whether it's discussing a topic or an issue, to create work that is much more tangible, to promote & support each other as well. 


Why embroidery?

My mother is also a very creative person and had made artwork by cross stitching so I feel as if the hobby was past down. Embroidery traditionally was very limited in terms of the work produced using the skill. In modern society embroidery is a way of expressing ideas and not just a pattern on a piece of clothing.


What is an artistic outlook on life? 

Life is almost split in to sections, it is an experience you learn and develop from. You could think of life as an imaginary person who trips you up, laughs and helps you get back up, hugs you and then trips you up again.


If your embroideries were edible, what would they taste like? 

You know aftermath of a heavy rain when the sky is yellow and the smell of earth surrounds you? That's what I'd like my embroidery to taste like.

What is your favourite thing about humanity? 

To be able to love and accept the quirkiness and individuality of someone.




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