Textile artist and author, Bobby Britnell from Moor Hall Studio

Bobby B 2

Bobby Britnell was the speaker for our November meeting on Zoom.  She started her talk, My Creative Journey by telling us that she was desperate to leave school and her first jobs were making glamorous theatre costumes and she mentioned buying fabrics from Borvick Fabrics in Berwick Street, London.  After a few years in industry, Bobby decided to go to the Battersea College of Education and then went on to teach at a secondary school in Guildford for 12 years.  While working she took a City & Guilds course to expand her knowledge. 

In 1986 she moved to South Shropshire, taught City & Guilds Design courses, got involved with school and community projects and the Julia Caprara  School of Art.

Bobby then went on to talk about the Moor Hall Studio where she offers a great variety of textile and art related courses (see link below).  Music and dance are important to her and she showed us a pieced quilt entitled Morning Star with musical notes on it, another was inspired by the moves of a Morris dance and a third showed a scarecrow wearing a tattered jacket inspired by a traditional story. 

Bobby is a long standing member of the Textile Study Group (see link below) and talked about a challenge entitled “Not what it Seams” in which she constructed a 3D 8” high curved vessel and then took it further by constructing a large version sitting on a plinth which she could get inside.

An important period of Bobby’s life started when her son suggested she go to Uganda and she set up the Kisaabwa Project, which they registered as a charity.  The aim was for it to be sustainable and eventually independent.  A local teacher gave up his job to head the project which included basketry, making brooms, mats and making bark cloth.  

I found it fascinating to learn how the bark on the tall straight Mutuba tree is cut at the top and bottom, peeled off and the trunk is then carefully wrapped with fresh banana leaves to encourage regrowth.  To find out more look on Bobby’s website (see link below). Bobby has used the bark cloth for a lot of her work and one major project was inspired by the traditional omweso game.  The registered charity was shut down 4 years ago and the project is now self-sufficient.

Following on from Bobby’s work with bark cloth she then went on to talk about Jose Hendo who is a fashion designer who uses bark cloth for her work.  There is an interesting interview with Jose and the Costume Society together with photographs (see link below)

Another project which I remember well, was when Bobby worked with Janet Middleton  to challenge people to create children’s slippers using bark cloth.  These slippers were displayed at various exhibitions around the country and then auctioned to raise funds for the charity.

In between teaching, designing and creating her own work, Bobby has still found time to write a book entitled “Stitched Textiles:  Flowers” which is readily available from booksellers or on the internet.

This was an amazing story involving many different people, countries, materials and techniques and we thank Bobby for sharing her experiences with us.

Bobby’s website: https://www.bobbybritnell.co.uk/

To subscribe to Bobby’s newsletter either use Contact on her website or email bobby@bobbybritnell.co.uk

Bobby’s courses at Moor Hall Studio:  https://www.bobbybritnell.co.uk/courses

Bark cloth details on Bobby’s website: https://www.bobbybritnell.co.uk/about/bark-cloth/how-is-bark-cloth-made

Textile Study Group: https://textilestudygroup.co.uk/

Jose Hendo interview:  https://costumesociety.org.uk/blog/post/an-interview-with-jose-hendo-part-1

 

 

Report by Ros

Photos taken from Bobby’s presentation with her permission.

Sue Hobson – What is a Quilt?

What is a Quilt?

Sue Hobson introduced her talk, What is a Quilt? by explaining that she came from a family of sewers but had followed a career in science.  She explained that pre Covid she had been a judge for quilts in the US and UK. 

SH Sue Hobson

 Sue went on to explain the different types of quilts, how they are constructed and their history.  I did not realise they were worn as protection under armour and the oldest dated back to 1718 in the UK.  The oldest quilts in the US dated back to 1740s and it was the  Welsh and North Counties settlers who brought their skills from the UK and there is a very strong link that the Amish learnt/copied from them. Whilst in Europe the Amish did not use quilts, they only used quilts once they had moved to the USA.

Sue handed round a cotton flour bag from the 1930s which had been produced to encourage ladies to buy the flour for cooking and then cut up the bag to make a quilt with the colours and designs changing regularly.

Sue then went on to show us a wonderful selection of quilts from the American Museum near Bath, the Festival of Quilts at the NEC, Birmingham and the Quilt Festival at Houston, Texas.

The final images were of the 2021 Best of Show at the Festival of Quilts at the NEC and the Best of Show at the Quilt Festival which will take place in Houston in late October 2021.

M A Katritzky – The Needlework Collaboration of Mary Queen of Scots and Bess of Hardwick

We welcomed M A Katritzky, Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences at The Open University, as the first speaker for our new group., Textiles & Stitch Around Marlborough.

Dr M A Katritzky set the scene by introducing us to these two talented ladies, their difficult relationship, how they had learnt their skills and how they had established a collection of 16C embroideries and textiles which are now over 600 years old.

Today these embroideries and textiles can be seen at Hardwick Hall, Derbyshire, Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Royal Collection at Holyrood House in Edinburgh.

Dr M A Katrizky talked in detail about the five 12ft high hangings depicting Virtuous women to be found at Hardwick Hall. 

Virtuous women, 5 large-scale appliqué hangings:
              Penelope between Patience and Perseverance
              Zenobia between Magnanimity and Prudence,
              Artemisia between Constancy and Piety
              *Cleopatra between Fortitude and Justice (*LOST)
              Lucretia between Generosity and Chastity

Details and image of Lucretia hanging can be seen on the National Trust website: http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/1129593.2

Conservation of Lucretia and Penelope hangings from the National Trust Textile Conservation Studio in Norfolk

https://nttextileconservationstudio.wordpress.com/projects/

These hangings were patchworked from old velvet and silk ecclesiastical and court vestments and it is known that Bess always had at least one embroiderer on her payroll. There were also a large number of non-religious embroideries.

At Oxburgh Hall three composite hangings can be found, the Marian, the Cavendish and the Shrewsbury. There is a wide selection of animals, birds, insects and an ape placed on a bench holding a mirror.

Victoria & Albert Museum’s images of the Oxburgh Hall collection

https://collections.vam.ac.uk/search/?q=Oxburgh%20Hall%20textiles

During her talk Dr M A Katritzky asked us to consider if thoughts had been expressed through textiles, why the specific women had been chosen for the Virtuous women hangings and if Mary and Bess’ relationships had had any influence on their work.

We are very grateful to Dr M A Katritzky for sharing her in depth knowledge of Elizabethan embroideries and hangings with us and for helping to get our new group off to an exciting start.

 

M A Katritzky’s recommended further reading:

Michael Bath, Emblems for a Queen, the Needlework of Mary Queen of Scots. London 2008.

Susan Frye, Pens and Needles: Women’s textualities in early Modern England, Philadelphia 2010.

M A Katritzky, “Virtuous needleworkers, vicious apes: the embroideries of Mary Queen of Scots and Bess of Hardwick”. In: Birgit Münch et al, eds. Künstlerinnen: neue Perspektiven auf ein Forschungsfeld der Vormoderne. Petersberg 2017, pp. 48–61.

Santina Levy, The Embroideries of Hardwick Hall, a catalogue. London 2007.

Santina Levy, An Elizabethan inheritance: the Hardwick Hall textiles. London 1998.

Margaret Swain, The needlework of Mary Queen of Scots, Marlborough 2013 (1st edition: 1973).

 

Due to copyright I have not been able to show any of the images M A Katritzky shared with us in her talk but hopefully you will use the links provided.

 

 

 

 

The images above are from Wikipedia

 

 

Everyone was very excited to meet up for the first time in 18 months   What wonderful weather so we were able to have all the doors open and enjoy each other’s company.  After the speaker I took a few photos which have now been circulated in a Press Release to announce the new group.

IMG 2263

Members were asked to bring along a piece of work which they had done during lockdown and these photos were all included in the Press Release.

Diane Ann
Diane & Ann

Clare has decided to stand down from the Committee and her position of joint Chair with Ann.  We are all extremely grateful for everything you have done for the group especially in this last year when you have been deeply involved with the setting up of the new group.  What would we have done without you when it came to researching GPDR and all those other challenging topics?  We will miss you but will look forward to seeing you at meetings and seeing all the wonderful projects you are planning.  I understand that you are now going to be in charge of the tea rota so watch out everyone , you have been warned!

Clare Ann 1 1
Ann Clare 1
I had to include this photo of Ann & Clare !

Report and photos by Ros and Lindsay

Suzy Wright – Exciting Textile Artist using colour, colour and more colour!

On Thursday 10th June we had a fabulous talk by Suzy Wright, an inspiring and colourful textile artist.

She described growing up in Dorset and her early years at school where, diagnosed as dyslexic, she received very negative feedback from her teachers. The one exception was her art teacher  who praised her work and encouraged her. She went on to do art and textiles at GSCE and, in order to produce the volume of work required, began using a sewing machine to ‘draw’. This was the beginning of a lifelong passion to paint and sew.

Her heart and soul went into her sketchbooks and her project pieces which included a cream calico coat and a peacock coloured fishtail skirt. She went on to Bournemouth College leaving her school work behind for assessment. A fire in the art block of her old school destroyed every piece of work that she had done bar one! This now stays with her wherever she goes.

Suzy Wright Parrot

Like a phoenix, unable to be thwarted by this, she continued her courses, ending up at Westminster University studying fashion design. She quickly realised this was not for her as it was too neat and precise and she felt she had lost her artistic flair. For her internship she worked for Zandra Rhodes and loved it but was still not able to relax into her work enough.

After leaving university early she started working with Kaffe Fasset where she began to catalogue their archive of work. Two years later, having done no sewing of her own, she went home, took over the kitchen, and began to draw and sew. Part time work in a local farm shop gave her some income, something she has continued to do. She was inspired by the fruit and veg that was for sale and was able to hang some of her pieces on the walls of the shop. Here she made her first sale!

Needing her own studio she moved to Glastonbury and then on to a communal workshop in Oxford but, deciding she preferred to be in her own space surrounded by the chaos of her hundreds of reels of threads and pieces of work that she had done, she returned to Dorset.

Suzy Wright close up

Her work is full of colour with solid stitching for which she uses jeans needles as they are stronger. She works on a medium weight calico which she does not put in a hoop as she likes the distortion of the fabrics. She leaves the thread ends on the surface of her pieces, partly because the university of Westminster didn’t like it!!

She loves colour and portraying people, her pieces include Zandra Rhodes, Grayson Perry, Janet Street Porter and a self portrait with her own 3 tropical birds on her head and shoulders. Honesty, she says, is key!

In the future she will be exhibiting at the Knitting and Stitch Show this year and, whilst always working on her own projects, will have some small workshops to share her knowledge and passion.

Suzy Wright Parrot 2

Report by Lindsay – thank you Lindsay!

Photos by kind permission of Suzy Wright

Suzy’s website:  https://orangethread.co.uk/

Suzy’s Instagram: Instagram@orangethrea dsuzy

Polly Woolstone – Fascinating Textile Artist, Cyclist and Traveller

Polly 1

For our May Zoom meeting 34 members of the Textile and Stitch Around Marlborough enjoyed a talk entitled “My journey with a sketchbook, camera & needle” by Polly Woolstone.  Polly started by giving us a brief resume of her work as an art teacher at a performing arts and dance boarding school. 

In 2004 Polly went on a 1500 mile sponsored bike ride around Ireland and in 2007 she took a sabbatical from teaching and went to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam finishing with two weeks in India.

On her return she realised that she had spent years helping children to create but now was time for her, so she handed in her notice and prepared for retirement.  Polly then enjoyed numerous courses as a learner rather than a tutor after her move to Oxford.

She continued her travels taking photos and using them as inspiration for her work.  A bike ride around Myanmar (Burma) gave her an opportunity to take more photos and after a cycling trip around south India Polly set up annual tours to visit textile related areas of the country.  Before embarking on a trip Polly pre-prepares concertina sketch books so they are ready to record all inspiration she comes across.

A project entitled “Whispers in the Wind” ten years after her mother’s death included a poem “Walking with Grief”, a Celtic song “May the road rise up and meet you” and a Leonard Cohen song “The birds they sing at the break of the day”.

Just before lockdown Polly finished 9 panels about the history of Ireland, its hill forts and the islands off Galway Bay where she experimented with recurring shapes. 

In her new garden studio Polly latest project was inspired by the boats along the Oxford canal and the river Thames and she has gone back to landscapes which have been influenced by staycation trips to Pembrokeshire, North Wales and Exmoor. 

In a question and answer session Polly generously shared details of the papers and materials she uses and the sketchbook and textile artists she admires.

Thank you Polly for a wonderful talk.  Let’s hope one day we can see your sketchbooks for real and that you will visit us for a workshop.

Report by Ros

Photos by kind permission of Polly Woolstone

If you would like to learn more about Polly please visit her Facebook page:  https://m.facebook.com/Polly-Woolstone-Mixed-Media-ArtistTeacher-1518216874927535/

Emily Tull – exciting talk by textile artist extraordinaire

Emily Tull is a textile artist based in Kent. Her talk gave us a wonderful overview of her career, inspiration and process.

Emily is obsessed with faces. Starting with what she states as crude experiments (but were still exquisitely detailed), she initially concentrated on eyes and mouths. A loose weave fabric was the base of the work and muslin is used for the skin as it is a good surface to sketch on, distresses and is stitched on relatively easily. Emily had become frustrated painting, finding she was able to include more detail with stitch.

A series of 8 male portraits followed, all of people she knew. The work was initially monochromatic but moved to more subtle colour as the work progressed, although she owned a very limited thread palette at this point. Hessian was the base with muslin used to accentuate certain sections of the face with simple marks making the image come alive. After completing the first 3 portraits, she liked the effect but wondered if the style would appeal to a wider audience. With this in mind, Emily approached a number of galleries and received positive feedback; in 2008 she received a Highly Commended after entering the RBSA (Royal Birmingham Society of Artists) Portrait Prize and at this point she though “this could work”.

Emily’s portraits were not of the whole head but rather accenting parts, leaving the viewer to complete the picture. She likened the work to putting faces back together, mending people’s souls. She invariably uses people she knows for the inspiration as she adds a little of the person into the portrait.

The size of the work increased, working canvases 2ft x 3ft, but working at this dimension causes physical discomfort to work on. Additional fabrics were introduced such as cotton, silks and linen, with the larger pieces now being used.  Often distressed with sandpaper, the background fabric helps to define the shape of the head, hinting at shapes that aren’t there.

At this point, Emily felt she had gone as far as she could with this style and decided to change to a sketchier design. Taking a 3ft2 old bedsheet with wadding on a wooden stretcher, she used just black, grey and white thread, filling in areas with long stitches. She found this technique to be more expressive and depicted movement well.

IMAGE Lord Melvyn Bragg hand stitched

In 2010, Emily moved on to wildlife portraits, first created a cockerel using velour, netting and some stitching. All of the fabric came from her mum’s scrap bag, collected from years of Irish dancing costume making. Using fabric enabled Emily to cover an area with colour very quickly and she enjoyed the challenge of using only those scraps she had on hand.

The collection of winter themed designs based on garden birds was completed on white fleece. Small stitching was used for the finer details and Emily used this collection as an opportunity to further increase her thread collection, although she does prefer to use what is on hand rather than purchase new. Emily often looks to charity shops to purchase her threads.

As this collection grew, Emily began to add backgrounds to the animal studies, initially abstract but becoming more realistic over time. On the Gannet a layer of organza was used, with the head being directly sketched on to the cotton, cut out and applied to the background. The stitching continued to develop, with the gannet being much more fully stitched than the portraits, blending colours and stitch lengths to provide the detail. Emily said that she learnt what she was doing working on the wildlife images.

IMAGE Otter

With this developed knowledge, Emily returned to portraits, where her stitching became much more dense, includes a broader colour range (the thread collection has now moved on to a crate!) and the work much more detailed. The muslin has become much less important, with sketching done directly on to the background. Prints as well as plain fabrics are included in the portraits, although colours are still subtle rather than bright; these are distressed with sandpaper, a technique Emily really enjoys.

Inspiration for the technique has come from ripped wallpaper, ripped billboards and peeling paint. Using these references, Emily layers the fabrics, away from her earlier technique of outlining with the faces fitting and sinking into the other materials.

Emily is a big fan of sketch books, using them to sketch into, hold reference photographs, doodles, collages and notes and describes them as a conversation with herself. Titles often drive the piece of work and these can come from song lyrics, poetry or she will hear something that makes it into the sketchbook to be a used at a later date. When doing a portrait Emily starts with the eye and moves on to the other parts when happy with this; this is the only part of a set routine she employs. The eyes are the slowest part as these need to be exact; hair is often the quickest as it uses long stitches. Long strands and loops are used for texture, but Emily tries not to stitch too thickly as this is tough on her fingers.

Emily works on a single project at a time, her impatience often drives the project to completion. Depending on the project Emily may stitch on it between 2 and 8 hours a day, depending on her comfort; some projects can result in sever neck pain, particularly if the project is large. She usually stitches with two hands, one under the work and the other above, working stitches individually.

More recently, Emily has been working on wallpaper. This has taught a few lessons; shiny paper needs an angled stitch, light drawing of subject and considering how the paper responds; too many needle holes reduced the integrity of the paper resulting in areas that are cut out. Unsurprisingly, less expensive wallpaper is not so good for stitching. Emily began with stitching wildlife on wallpaper based on Victoriana; the hummingbird was stitched on muted paper to make the colours pop. Because of the dense stitching, the work came close to degrading the paper.

Moving on to other substrates, a fox and seagull have been stitched on to the polystyrene supports for pizzas, a sand martin stitched on to plastic netting and a crab emerging from a plastic bag. As different bases have been used the work became more sculptural and dimensional in its appearance.

Emily was an interesting guest speaker and generous with the information she shared on her techniques. For images of her work and information of her workshops, please visit www.emilytull.co.uk

Report thanks to Tase W.

Photos thanks to Emily Tull

Ros

Jessica Grady – exciting embellishment textile artist – March 2021

Jessica Grady gave a wonderful talk from her home in Leeds to 35 of our members on Zoom.  She started her talk by explaining she chose to go to university in Norwich because the course gave her the opportunity to explore weaving, knitting, surface and print. Jessica had several internships working for, Hand & Lock, Zandra Rhodes and Marks & Spencer.  For her final year project she decided to research simple embroidery stitches and her French knots were created in various sizes, threads, materials and backgrounds.  Her final Degree piece displayed a large piece full of embellishments.  Jessica then took part in the New Designer’s Show followed by the Graduate Showcase at the Festival of Quilts in 2014.

Jessica with her work
Jessica with her work behind when she was awarded the Embroiderers Guild Scholar Award

Travelling to South America gave Jessica yet more inspiration for her work and reinforced her love of colour.  On her return she started working freelance creating embroidery designs for collections through an agent where the copyright is sold with the purchase.  It became clear that she would be better off managing her own destiny and in 2016 Jessica branched off on her own and had an article printed in Stitch magazine and took part in North Yorkshire Open studios.  

In 2018 she was awarded the Under 30’s Scholar by the Embroiderers’ Guild and the following year she displayed her work with the Prism Textile Group.  Along with other textile artists including Louise Baldwin, Sandra Meech and Cas Holmes, Jessica is involved with the group, Art Textiles Made in Britain and, as an ambassador, early in 2020 she was invited to display her work at the Tokyo International Quilt Festival .

During the pandemic Jessica has undertaken personal commissions and created online tutorial booklets.  Community work is obviously a rewarding part of her current life and Jessica talked about creativity in stitch for NHS staff, young carers groups and giving talks and workshops to primary and secondary schools online.   Thank you Jessica for a great talk.

Report by Ros

Photos thanks to Jessica

https://www.jessicagrady.co.uk/

Instagram:  @jessica_rosestitch

Facebook: @jessicagradyembroideryartist 

Daisy polyps
Embellished work by Jessica Grady

Wonderful collection of work by Robina

For you all, ‘A Loving Hug’, inspired from a painting by Romero Britto. I worked the black lines first by free machining over the design which I’d drawn onto vanishing paper, as the demo. last week.  The colour was added after, using the reverse dyes, but I painted  the design, and not randomly coloured, as the demonstrator had done. I also repeated the pattern, as you may notice by all the extra hands, but I only stitched and embroidered the centre area. I popped in the black & white ‘hug’, so you have a before and after.

The other thing is My penguin panel, which I add to every now and again as I think of things which might make it more interesting.

The final piece, Amsterdam was inspired by last month’s speaker Andrea Cryer.

 

Thank you Robina for sharing your work and I look forward to receiving images of other members’ projects  in the future.

Ros

Amazing talk by Andrea Cryer, “Drawing with Thread” – February 2021

Local textile artist, Andrea Cryer spoke to 37 of our members on Zoom this week.  She is well known for drawing with needle and thread and this interest goes back to her childhood with a father who was a tailor and a mother who was a keen dressmaker.  

Andrea studied Art A level at school but went on to follow a career in law after graduating from university.  Later in life she mentioned a professional development course at Trowbridge College, an Art Foundation course at Bath College and a Creative Arts degree course at Bath Spa where she studied stitch, knitting, weaving and printing.  

Andrea’s final degree project was inspired by a poem her son had written at the age of 8 about his grandmother.  Researching she found two beautiful photographs of Grandma Kath one at the age of 18 and a second at the age of 88 which she went on to draw in stitch.

Andrea Cryer Kath dyptych Feb 2021
Grandma Kath

In 2010 Andrea entered a charity arts event entitled the Lions of Bath and she made a cloak for her painted lion using a needle punched cloth with free machined circles, a technique she had learnt whilst following her degree course.  

In 2016 Andrea was a finalist in the open textile category of the Hand & Lock International Embroidery Prize with a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.  We were shown images of her sketchbook in which she planned out the various areas exploring different techniques and stitches.  Whilst the portrait used black thread her frame was more a variety of different layered yellow and gold fabrics densely stitched.  Andrea then went on to show us a wonderful selection of stitched projects of various locations in Bath.  Toppings, the book shop, a triptych of Gay Street and the King William pub on the corner of Thomas Street.

Andrea Lion Feb 2021
Andrea Gay Street tryptych Feb 2021

This last year Andrea joined Tom Croft’s NHS Portraits for Heroes project and she showed us images of Matt, a paramedic  and Diane, a nurse whose portraits she had created in stitch.

Andrea Cryer 2 2021

Finally Andrea talked about her involvement with the 2020 Sky Arts Portrait of the Year programme.  Her submission piece was of her and David Hockney and she told us about the day she spent at Battersea Arts Centre in the summer of 2020.  She had four hours to complete her work which was of Deborah James, a lady in her late 30’s.  It was obviously a challenging and demanding event with numerous interruptions for interviews and camera shots but Andrea was pleased she had taken part.   Whilst talking about this event she explained the various stages and techniques she used to create one of these stitched drawings and this sparked off several questions after the talk had finished.

Andrea Deborah James Feb 2021
Deborah James who sat for the Portrait of the Year

Thank you Andrea for a most interesting talk and for being so generous in sharing your techniques.

If you would like to find out more about Andrea please visit her website:  

https://www.andreacryer.co.uk/

 

Now for members work!

It has been a couple of months since we showcased members’ work but we have now a wonderful selection to share.

Judy J purple beaded iris pot
Purple bead pot by Judy J
Christine H book cover Feb 21
Book cover by Christine H
Ann K bag 3 Feb 21
Bag designed and made by Ann K

 I’ve designed the bag and applique myself.  I modified a bag pattern taken from a Japanese quilting book my husband bought me for Christmas.  The applique patterns were based on a design we saw on a bag in a shop window in Japan.  It’s a cross between a handbag and a shopping bag ….. the sort of shopping bag you use when you go shopping for fabric!  It took me a week to make it but it got my brain working and was a really enjoyable project.

Ros Gondal man Feb 21
Applique and hand stitched portrait of a gentleman in a market by Ros

Nikki Parmenter – January 2021

Nikki Parmenter Textile Artist got our New Year off to a fantastic start when she shared her colourful work with 36 of our members from her home in Cheshire over Zoom this week.  Nikki used to teach but since retiring she has exhibited extensively.  Mythology and legends feature greatly in her work and she showed us images of mandalas used for meditation, together with work influenced by the Aztecs, Greek mythology and various artists like Klimt, Matisse, Botticelli and Leonardo de Vinci. 

Nikki has exhibited at the National Trust property, Gawthorpe Hall near Burnley where they have a large textile collection.  She displayed 12 pieces of work including one inspired by May Morris, daughter of William Morris based on an Elizabethan herb pillow showing pea pods, daffodils, poppies and butterflies.  She also made a tower like structure similar to tulip boxes showing squirrels, parrots, ladybirds and poppies.

Two pieces entitled Fadeout 1 & 2 were created to show the harm of pollution with the top of the work lacking colour and poor sea life and the bottom showing vibrant colour and lots of healthy creatures.   See detail in photos below.

For an exhibition in Chester Cathedral Nikki created a triptych. A swan appeared in each of the three panels, the first being inspired by a poem by W B Yeats, the second measuring 7 ft tall was a conference of 30 birds, hoopo, parrots, ducks, pelicans etc and the third panel was a Persian mythical bird called a Simurgh.

For another event Nikki was inspired by the Della Robbia pottery collection which was founded in 1894 in Birkenhead.  She used images from the collection which dated back to 1520.  Dream of the Huntsmen measuring 6 x 4 ft shows peacocks, fish and stags.

Nikki P Jan 21 x 1

Nikki generously shared her techniques with us and mentioned using chicken wire, plastic sheeting, cellophane, pipe insulation, pipe cleaners, and funky foam in her work. 

In addition to writing various articles for Stitch magazine, Nikki has contributed a workshop for the 6th WOW (Workshop on the Web) book which is published by Maggie Gray.

For more images of Nikki’s finished work and her amazing sketchbook take a look on her website: https://www.nikkiparmenterartworks.com/

Photos by kind permission of Nikki Parmenter

Report by Ros

Vernice has kindly alerted me to the fact that in addition to Nikki’s workshop in the 6th WOW book, Jessica Grady (our March speaker) and Christine Chester who spoke to us in 2018 also have workshops.  WOW website is:   wowbook.d4daisy.com

Can I remind members of our monthly Stitch & Chat Zoom session on Tuesday 19 January from 10.00 to approx. 12.00?  Grab yourself a mug of coffee and something to do and enjoy the company of like-minded friends.

Alice Kettle – Christmas 2020

Unfortunately our annual Christmas “bring and share” lunch did not take place this year but we were still able to enjoy a talk by a surprise speaker over Zoom.  Thirty five members took part and two guests, Catherine, Vernice’s friend from the Maidenhead & Windsor branch and my friend, Pascale who was sitting in her workroom in Luxembourg!

What a privilege it was to hear Alice Kettle who is Professor of Textile Art at Manchester Metropolitan University and the current President of the Embroiderers’ Guild. 

Alice Kettle 1 Dec 20

Alice started by telling us all about the wonderful wall hanging she created for the Discovery Centre in Winchester in 2007.  It was so enormous, being 16 x 3 metres she could not lift it and had to stitch it on site with the public watching.  As Professor of Textile Art at Manchester Alice’s work involved research and she chose to explore digital embroidery in order to take embroidery to another level – more details and images: https://www.art.mmu.ac.uk/research/crafts/

Alice is one of three sisters and has three daughters and connections with Greece so all feature regularly in her work.  Alice showed us Golden Dawn in which the leader of a Greek political movement was depicted as the Minotaur (image:  https://alicekettle.co.uk/) and another where a dog was the symbol of austerity protests in Greece with three girls in the crowd.  Over the years Alice has been commissioned to create numerous hangings, one of which can be seen at the Lloyds Register Marine Insurance in Southampton.  Entitled “A map to the future”, it measures 8 x 3 metres and shows a world map and the hull of a ship in the Atlantic.  (Image: https://www.lr.org/en/latest-news/a-map-to-the-future-alice-kettle/ )

A selection of Alice’s other work can be seen in the gallery area on her website together with details of various projects:  https://alicekettle.co.uk/gallery-new/

Alice Kettle 2 Dec 2020
Ground hanging from the Thread Bearing Witness Project

In 2017 Alice started an art project which used textiles to learn from, show solidarity with and raise funds for displaced people and refugees.  Details of the project and images of the various activities can be seen on their website (https://threadbearingwitness.com/

Three large hangings were created and displayed at the Whitworth Gallery, Sea, Ground and Sky 

Recently Alice has been involved in the Stitch a Tree project with over 11,000 contributions.  Hopefully this will be displayed at the next Knitting & Stitch Show.  Images:  https://threadbearingwitness.com/stitch-a-tree-project/stitch-a-tree-karachibiennale19/

Alice Kettle 2020
Sea hanging from the Thread Bearing Witness Project

In conclusion Alice kindly answered several questions from members and explained her technique of producing a free machined, layered background which she then turned over and stitched the detail and people from the reverse.  She said it was very exciting because she never knew exactly what it looked like until the end. 

We are very grateful to Alice for giving us such a wonderful talk and hopefully she will visit us in the future but in the meantime I do hope you will explore more about her interesting work.

Ros