Following pioneers like Paula Rego and her famous Abortion Paintings, many female artists in the contemporary art scene have felt the importance of addressing trauma and violence and realise in it a shared experience of the female body.

In this fashion, Brooklyn-based British artist Zoe Buckman has a uniquely subtle approach to visualising pain through the female lens.  Almost like a subterfuge, we expect canvases splattered with red or a contorted sculpture a la Louise Bourgeois, but instead are met with doily-shaped, pretty pastel-hued embroideries. The delicate nature of the needle-worked textiles presents a strange juxtaposition to the subject of trauma.

But it’s not the trauma as a singularly harrowing event that Buckman is interested in. For her new UK solo show ‘Bloodwork’ at the Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, the artist uses experiences from close friends and attempts to depict moments of joy in times of emotional toil and hardship.

The embroidered figures are dynamic, throwing their arms into the air, laughing, and dancing through flowers. They exude a positivity that is as contrastive to the thought of pain as a thin piece of thread. This joy that ‘Bloodwork’s protagonists exude is addictive- it’s a feeling that will thread itself through the heart and create a patchwork of survival, hope, and life.

Pretty embroideries and gossamer vintage fabrics bely the handcrafted needlework portraiture of trauma and emotional toil, with poetically titled artworks such as 'why don’t you just tell me how you want to be, baby & i’ll live like water around you' and 'i spluttered & splintered into infinite pieces to avoid what was'.  Zoe lures us into wanting to know how each story and relationship ended (did she make it out ok? Did she survive? Did she give in? ) and the unfinishedness business is reflected in the loose threads that dangle from the works. Like life hanging by a thread, if we pulled on one of those loose strings would the whole work just come apart?

Zoe Buckman’s ‘Bloodwork’ is now on view at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery until Saturday 1st of October. Reviewed by Carolin Hartter