Harriet Hammel has been making soft sculptures for over 40 years. She recreates objects using fabric, thread and polyester filling (originally kapok). The fabrics are carefully selected to reflect the materials they represent: satin and PVC for shiny surfaces, velvet, cotton and organza and, occasionally when appropriate, some felt.
Fine details, logos and decorations are all hand embroidered. "I never use paint or glue." Each sculpture is a life-size replica, in order to create a proper "trompe-l'oeil" effect. They range in size from very small to very large installations.
Harriet takes part in the Art Trail every year, showing work in various venues. In 2011, St Saviours church, one of the venues, had just become re-instated within the Church of England, following the exodus of priest and most of the congregation, who did not approve of women priests.
So, to celebrate this moment, Harriet made a female priest, which she called Rev! Mother, and dressed her in biker gear (soft helmet and jacket) and put her astride the Softuki, to welcome people in the church porch.
In May 2012, Rev! went on tour to Brighton, sharing an Artists' Open House.
Later on that year, in September, she became a female bishop for the art trail - 2 years ahead of her time!
The Art Trail moved from September to June and in 2014, Rev! Mother was elevated to Archangel status, to appear at St Barnabas Church's House of Angels.
Harriet enjoys making soft versions of things that are normally hard, aggressive or mundane. However, she has made sweets, biscuits, coffee pots and toasters. Her skills come in handy in the G&S Society she sings with, making theatrical props.
Embroidery is used for details on the soft sculptures, and also to make 2-dimensional art.