Friday, 19 November 2021

The Society for Embroidered Work, Surface and Depth. Exhibition in Rome, 2021

 I was proud to become a member of SEW in 2019 and delighted to be selected for their exhibition, Surface and Depth in Rome, October, 2021,

The exhibition was held in the Palazzo Velli Expo, in the Trastavere region of Rome as part of Rome Art Week. The aim of SEW is to promote and support stitched art as an artform by breaking down misconceptions, especially in Italy where contemporary embroidery is little known or recognised,

The response was amazing and the exhibition was really well received thanks to the organisers Olga   Teksheva, Felicity Griffin Clark and Cat Frampton. A major Italian newspaper, La Repubblica featured a double page spread about the show and publications in many other magazines thanks to the press officer, Stefania Vaghi. The show became one of the most visited in Rome Art Week.

I was fortunate enough to travel to Rome with my artwork.

                                               Patterns in Nature:



                                              The gallery:

Thanks to Olga:

And Felicity:

Please see the S.E.W. instagram page for lots of beautiful images and information:


Stitched Textile Artists Masterclass weekend August 2021

 This was a residential weekend led by textile artist Sian Martin in the beautiful surroundings of the Ammerdown Centre in Somerset.

Sian had suggested we look at the use of colour and mood, to consider what we are trying to evoke and how.

We were advised to take with us fabrics (preferably sheer) and threads in a colour range of our choice, plus some cheap nylon netting. Sian provided some CMC, a non toxic modelling paste.

I decided to continue with the same colour scheme as our previous (zoom) session as I still had enough space dyed silks to work with.  

Of course roses were still very much in my mind especially as they evoke so much emotion and so decided to explore their potential further.

During the first session Sian asked us to cut our fabrics up and sandwich between 2 layers of netting brushing with the CMC. These were left to dry overnight and in the morning we peeled the netting away to reveal a brand new surface on which to work! 

I was delighted to see that it looked like a sheet of rose petals!

Sian asked us to divide our new piece of fabric into 4 pieces

We were to produce 4 pieces evoking 4 different moods.

I considered the rose, noting the thoughts and words which came up as I worked. The rose as a bud and flower - full of promise followed by the inevitable decay, full of promise until changes take place; although decay may also be perceived as beautiful. The rose as part of a bouquet which may be celebratory ( think bright colours) or sent in sympathy (muted colours).

I chose to explore how a rose garden may change over the 4 seasons and the moods this may evoke.

I looked at the nature of my rose petal fabric, the reverse, the holey nature, the exquisite edges. 


Soft colours, gentle stitching to evoke emergence, hope, growth, activity and renewal

I gently gathered and manipulated the fabric to suggest the idea of growth and activity going on below the surface 


Bold colours, abundance, opulence. In order to evoke a feeling of abundance I used strips of fabric for stitching in bright colours weaving in and out of the holes in the surface with french knots and running stitch


Summer's opulence has given way to a more subdued feel, This is work in progress and yet to be stitched. I love the edging achieved in this sample and the 'petals' which are falling away


A sense of winter closing in, darker colours and a feeling of heaviness. Work in progress and stitching yet to be worked to evoke the mood.

Four seasons:

I'm planning to develop this in the near future with another larger piece in the offing. Lots of opportunity to experiment with stitch to build on and evoke feeling.

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Hand made book to celebrate my Grandmother's life as a child, young woman, nurse, mother and farmer's wife and in later life.

 I wanted to make a book to accompany the embroidered panel to celebrate my Grandmother's life.

I made lots of hand made paper of varying thicknesses, including thicker weights for the cover. I added a strong tea solution to the paper pulp to give an aged appearance.

A piece of embroidery which I've stitched based on a piece originally worked by my Grandmother is sandwiched between two layers of paper and 'framed' by an oak leaf shaped surround.


The frontispiece in my Grandmother's autograph book is decorated with a beautiful oak leaf design, I've copied this onto some tissue paper and glued it to the inside cover. I added a sample of her handwriting which appeared in the original book giving her signature and address, it's wonderful to have this.

 More hand made paper which has been embossed with a real oak leaf. I'm thrilled with the result!

Here she is probably in her mid twenties:

Her initials embossed in hand made paper:

As a child playing on a swing! Probably a common style of photo at the time. I've added a ribbon sash to embellish the photo a little:

Her wedding day! May 1922. I have embellished her bouquet with some hand stitching [bullion and French knot with detached chain]; I think my Grandfather looks very dapper and proud in his top hat!

Here they are as a family! My mother is in the centre front and she says Grandpa had probably just fed the pigs given the bucket in his hand. I love this relaxed family portrait and would love to know who the photographer was! I sourced the newspaper page from Google images, it was dated 1931 which would have been around the correct date.

Farmer's wife and busy feeding the ducks:

Children playing and running through the farmyard:

Nursing years. I don't have a photo of my Grandmother in her nurse's uniform and this image was sourced from The Red Cross website. The background photo is of the clinic in Exeter hospital  which I've printed onto calico and then added the free machine stitched image of the nurses.

The autograph book has many sincere messages of thanks, poems, drawings,and anecdotes:

These are oak leaf collages made up of monoprinted papers to symbolise the autumn as my Grandmother registered with the Red Cross in October, 1915:

A double page spread clearly showing the soldiers waiting to be seen and the nurses in their splendid uniforms waiting to start work, I've added some monoprinted and text within poppies to add to the atmosphere in the photo:

The later years. My Grandparents as I remember them. I love this photo:

My Grandmother was a very practical and accomplished needlewoman. I love these beautiful calico covered buttons and I'm lucky enough to have a full set! 

I've added text from an embroidery book dated 1939, I've actually got 2 copies so felt ok about using these pieces of text from the pages of the tattiest one! And they're very apt!!

A piece of my Grandmother's embroidery:

And this entry was made by my 11 year old self in her autograph book after she died, I remember feeling very sad. She taught me many proverbs and this is one of them:

And at the back of the book.............. I always like to have a pocket or envelope for odd snippets left from a project and I found this little envelope with a memo to remember inside and that seemed very apt:

A fitting end to the celebration of a wonderful lady and a life well lived..........

Embroidered panel of my Grandmother's experience in WW1 - as it nears completion.

 The embroidered panel is nearly finished, all that remains is stretching the panel over a board in preparation for framing. A box frame I think!

Plus some close ups views:

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Stitched Textile Artists zoom weekend March 2021

The group was led by Textile Artist Sian Martin and our inspiration was to be taken from colour and shape especially those seen in the later works of the artist Henri Matisse.

Sian asked us to send an image from which we would take our own personal inspiration.

I had recently received 3 beautiful bouquets of flowers from my sons and it occurred to me how well the blooms would lend themselves to a study of shape and colour.

A bird's eye view of the first bouquet:

Rose blooms laid on a contrasting tonal paper with added scattered petals from a previous bouquet:

Session One:

We started working with layers or stacks of coloured or printed papers, cutting in a relaxed fashion making simple and not realistic shapes whilst paying attention to colour variants and tone.

I decided upon pink and green variants and contrasts and added a print off of my original image as the top layer: 

We tried different arrangements , sliding the shapes around until we were satisfied whilst paying attention to the importance of negative shapes, interaction of colourways, folded or rolled up edges. These were stuck down when we were happy. I loved the results:

Session two
During the afternoon session we started to work into our collages adding lines to emphasise shapes and flow, reacting to and echoing rather than following. Shadows became important. We echoed our shapes and shadows with lines and added extra contrasting coloured / tonal shapes in different places within the tonal ground. 

I played around with the addition of darker tones, text and stitching:

Follow on zoom session 30.04.21

I had made several samples during the March master class weekend above using stacks of paper of contrasting colours and tonal values. My inspiration came from bouquets of flowers, mainly pink roses sent to me by my two sons. Their gesture was very tender, meaningful and touching.

I wanted now to take my work to a further stage by making some samples using fabric.

I limited my colour scheme to pinks and greens incorporating contrasting hues and tonal shades, choosing to random and dip dye some of my own fabrics and threads to achieve the harmonious and contrasting effects I was after. I used mainly silks.

I used cold water dyes in forest green, peony pink and burlesque red; I used some colours on their own and others combined remembering to add some linen / stranded cotton threads to the mix. In addition I printed my original photograph onto silk using the freezer paper method. I applied Bondaweb to the wrong side of all these to enable me to secure the shapes later. I also added snippets of shocking pink silk plus slithers of text from the boys’ message which I’d typed and then printed onto fine cotton using the freezer paper method.

I cut five A4 pieces of fabric incorporating each colourway and layered them. Out of these I cut 4 rectangles before cutting further to make several arched shapes as before [without being too precious!]

 I arranged these shapes and rearranged until I was happy. I used a brief tap with an iron to fix the shapes.

From top left clockwise:

1. Layers of soft muted tonal shapes applied to a dark pink silk velvet background with the addition of running stitch using the random dyed threads which I feel define the ‘petal’ shapes and give a lovely impression of movement.

2. Layers of shapes with the addition of shocking pink silk which have been bonded to a background of forest green random dyed background. I free machined these into place in a spiral fashion before cutting the piece into a ‘geometric’ spiral and stitched again. Once it was cut I needed a base fabric [tonal contrasting dark green]. I love the liveliness and the 3D effect in this created by the shocking pink and the cutting / re-stitching.

3. Lovely muted layers and threads give a sense of soft depth with the addition of shocking pink which makes it dance and sing! Running stitch adds definition and movement.

4. Muted layers cut spirally and stitched to a dark pink and tonally contrasting pink background.

Snippets of text in all these add an emotional element.

I love all of these from the softness of samples of 1 and 3 but feel drawn to no 2 with it's contrasting colourways and sense of movement.

I’d love to develop this into a larger piece with a pale pink / green random dyed and lightly wadded silk background supporting ‘blooms’ of various sizes and techniques perhaps with continued stitching between each to link shapes somehow.

At this stage I turned to an original drawing by Charles Rennie Mackintosh [source on-line Pinterest] for inspiration:

I played around with cutting into the shapes and love the 3D effect which seems to lift the image from the page:

I therefore set about trying to achieve a connection with flow and movement within the lines and shapes of my work.
To achieve this I experimented with paper first. I made a new stack of papers cutting them as before but with 2 of the rectangles cut at half the size to give smaller blooms. I then arranged and re-arranged the shapes to create a pleasing interaction. The samples were arranged and stuck down as before:

I free machine stitched into the shapes in a spiral fashion:

Now for the moment of truth! Time to cut into the shapes. I decided to print the above 3 times to allow for 3 experiments.

This one is my favourite, I cut sensitively and intuitively into the 'roses' and rearranged the cut shapes to achieve the connection and interaction of shapes I was looking for. Very pleased with this and the sense of movement and depth of the layers.

Another experiment with a different direction of flow but this doesn't create the connection and flow I desire

Third experiment with a geometric spiral arrangement which although fun to do doesn't create the effect I want!

This is my progress so far and the next step will be to recreate the first sample using fabrics.

Translation into fabric:

I used some space dyed silks in shades of pink and green to represent my beautiful roses.

Using the same techniques as above my aim was to incorporate the spiral patterns inspired by the Charles Renee Mackintosh drawing and to capture the delicacy of the petals. I also included snippets of text which I'd printed onto a fine white fabric.

Three completed fabric (silk) collages with free machine embroidery  represent the three beautiful bouquets received recently from my sons.

For me fabric and stitch offer the perfect qualities to express an emotional reaction to the world around me and this piece demonstrates that perfectly.