Series: Stories from beehive front panels
Motif: by Mitja Ficko
Type: Embroidered painting
Technique: Mixed embroidery
Year: 2016 - ongoing
Edition: Limited (30)

Size: Small
Dimension: 32 x 14 cm | 12.6 x 5.5 in
Number of stitches: over 140,000
Thread length: over 2 km | over 1.2 mi
Thread colours: 28
Development: over 55 person hours


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About the artwork

Painted beehive front panels are autochthonous part of Slovene cultural heritage. First ones were done by Slovene peasants in the 18th century and used to carry solely religious motifs, however, in the 19th century, beekeepers turned toward secular depictions, too. Through the last decade, many Slovene painters revive this, almost forgotten art by recreating old motifs in their own modern styles, part of this being a series of beehive front panel embroideries, done by Ercigoj art in cooperation with numerous Slovene artists.

An old folk tale about a grain mill that destroys evil hags and rejuvenates old women into young and beautiful which is most likely a folklore metaphor for the end of winter (the old hag) and the coming of spring (rejuvenation) found its way onto the traditional motifs on beehives. Mitja Ficko added his own flair to the story by layering textures, patterns and details into the panel, enriching it and making it his own.

About the artist

Mitja Ficko is s painter driven by instinct rather than reason. Contact with art for him still has, as it was the case in history, foremost a spiritual and ceremonial dimension. His works are usually of a large scale for the maximum impact they make in a gallery setting. They are painted on the floor of his atelier, so that gestures on them are made by his whole body. He prefers tranquillity and meditation that can later erupt in a visual abundance of images. The subject matter on his paintings is instantly recognisable and strange at the same time. A figuratively rendered torrent permeated by awe and magical elements that address our emotions.

Born in 1973, in Murska Sobota, Slovenia. Earned a bachelor and master’s degree from the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana. Lives and works in Mohorje and Ljubljana, SIovenia, and Leipzig, Germany.


Innovation of layering

We layer multiple colours of threads and so create rich embroidery and colour texture that is impossible to create with classic one-layer embroidery technique. By layering, we develop colour transitions and shadowing, by which we create multiple-colour surfaces, similar to pointillism painting.

Smooth transitions and shading

By intertwining threads of endless colours and creating colour transitions, we can shape soft shadows, make one surface transition into another and mix colours into an endless multitude of hues. This way, we can also recreate motives from photographs and sophisticated art paintings which wouldn’t be possible with classic embroidery technique, using vector surfaces.

Sophisticated colour calibration

Usually in embroidery, 10 or 20, maybe 30 colours of threads are used. We use around 1,000 colour hues and if a colour still doesn’t match the desired one, we create it by layering and colour transitions. We have digitally scanned colours of all threads by using a spectrograph, so we can colour match any colour from an original material or from CMYK, RGB or Pantone colour schemes.

Old Hag Mill

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