Jonathon Beaver is an embroiderer, animator and arts educator based in Liverpool, UK.
He began working with needlepoint at the age of nine, encouraged by an auntie. He uses this traditional craft, often used to mark family occasions and decorate homes, to evoke queer family. His pieces range from small scale to larger tapestry work reminiscent of period samplers from a bygone era, but bringing an old craft into a contemporary setting through subject matter. His practice takes traditional constructions of gender roles and identities and allows them to be explored and freed from societal shackles and permits him to explore the personal gender preferences of himself as an artist and person.
Pieces draw upon reflections on the unnatural-normalised behaviour, cruel language and repression-and the natural-bodies, sexuality, nature and self-expression. His research and work draws on phrases, makes him reflect on past, history and archives connected to places and words. Pieces have loose threads, hanging down, which demonstrates how linguistic and physical connections ground: root us all. Pieces have threads that unravel: have natural movement- indicating emotional development and outreaching.
He doesn’t use an embroidery ring to hold the cloth in place, as he believes it’s restrictive. He wants to have the hands-on, close experience of the threads weaving into the material so he can feel his work slowly progress. Collectively, when stitched, these delicate cotton threads are strong, though malleable – he can pull the cloth taut, see the strength against physical resistance; something that he recognises in our ongoing well-being for LGBTQ+ rights.
In 2009, he started his exploration of animation using mixed media such as Lego, fabric and collage to create stop motion animations. To date, he has screened at galleries such as Zuhause and Islington Mill, in festivals in Brazil, Norway and Poland, and at Chew Disco, a Liverpool-based DIY party that raised funds for international LGBTQ safe houses.
During his five years as an educator, he has worked in the North West of England engaging his students with art clubs, workshops and community projects. He has facilitated embroidery workshops at Liverpool University, teaching postgraduate students. His teaching foregrounds inclusive and experimental learning, for instance- incorporating technology into textiles and embroidery and how this can be utilised as a resource of education.