Sporticulture: One-off Embroideries From Iceland’s James Merry ​

james merry sporticulture

I was reminded of James Merry when reading about Bjork’s recent Corncucopia show at The Shed in New York. He’s worked closely with the Icelandic singer for years now as co-creative director for several of her music videos and concerts as well as being the designer behind many of her unique silicone headpieces. In addition to that, he’s also a hand embroidery artist who has embellished vintage sportswear with flora and fauna.

James Merry Sporticulture

Merry’s collection for Opening Ceremony

James personally sources vintage athletic brand sweaters and sweatshirts and turns them into one-of-a-kind pieces by embellishing familiar logos with flora and fauna. Back in 2015, he created an 18 piece unisex collection of these for Opening Ceremony, with prices ranging between $800 and $950.

Some of his Sporticulture pieces were auctioned off by SHOWStudio in the past for a charity initiative and although he hasn’t any for sale at the moment in his online shop (the man’s been busy, for god’s sake), he hopes to again.

“Embroidering plant life is my very polite, very English form of protest against the urban. I’m taking the most street, mass-produced thing I could think of,” he says of the vintage athletic apparel he uses as canvas, “and transforming it into something that feels handmade and natural.”- James Merry, NYT Style Magazine

image courtesy New York Times Magazine

He says certain sports brand logos are surreally aligned with particular plant life. For Nike, it’s primroses; Fila suits mushrooms and moss; and Kappa, he says, works with root vegetables that range from radishes to carrots.

Originally from Gloucestershire in the UK, now based in Iceland, he works from a small cabin studio on a lake fifteen minutes outside of Reykjavík, working by hand in a variety of mediums. James is a self-taught embroiderer, having originally studied Classical Greek at Oxford University.

portrait of James Merry by Thomas Whiteside

Outside of his work with Björk, he is primarily known for his hand embroidery and has collaborated with institutions such as the V&A, Gucci, SHOWstudio, and Opening Ceremony.

James T. Merry website

images courtesy of New York Times T Magazine, Vogue Magazine and James Merry

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