Every so often an opportunity comes along that I can't quite believe I am lucky enough to take part in. This year marked the Embroiderers' Guild 30 year retrospective of their Graduate Showcase, and I was delighted to be asked to exhibit some of my current work.
I originally took part back in 2009 when I first graduated from Birmingham City University. Unbeknownst to me at the time of my final show, a member of the Embroiderers' Guild had visited the exhibition and spotted my final project piece. This was a printed and goldwork embroidered corset depicting an image of the virgin with child, which went on to be exhibited at that years Knitting and Stitch shows in London, Harrogate and Dublin as part of the Graduate Showcase.
Close up detail of the hand embroidered corset which was my final project piece
Fast forward fourteen years, and the retrospective has given me a chance to share how far my work has come, and meet some of the other fantastic embroiderers that are still practising within the field.
An obligatory awkward photo to prove I was part of the 30 year retrospective!
I also got the chance to do some stewarding at the show in Harrogate, and sign copies of the Showcase guide. It blows my mind that my work is now part of such a prestigious book and strangers asked for my autograph!
The double page spread featuring my work in the showcase companion book
I was also lucky enough to check out some of the other work on display, and came home full of inspiration. There was such a wide array of techniques and styles of work, that I wanted to share some of the artists I have followed and some of the new creators I have discovered.
First up is Richard McVetis who creates stunningly intricate monochrome embroideries which explore the themes of geology, cosmology, the language of time, permanence, and impermanence. The images below do not do the piece justice as it is hard to see the minute size of each seed stitch.
'Grains' 2020-22, hand embroidered seed stitch in cotton thread on a wool canvas by Richard McVetis
Another artist who very much compliments Richards work, and who was a fellow graduate exhibitor in 2009, is Roanna Wells. She showed two pieces of her recent work, one of which was stitch and the other painted using watercolour. Roanna focuses on mark-making and repetition, both structured and random, to produce each piece using two very different techniques.
Left: 'Diffraction' 2022, watercolour painting on cartridge paper by Roanna Wells Right: ‘All The Little Boxes’ 2023, hand stitch on wool by Roanna Wells
'The Gardener King' 2023, hand embroidered portrait created with cotton threads on linen by Fiona Gill
Another participant of the retrospective was Alex Vincent, who is a master of manipulating natural and foraged fibres. Below are two detailed snapshots of the sample panel he created especially for the show. I love the imagery used within the piece, and although the stitch is very simple, the technique has been executed incredibly well to form a detailed motif.
'Ramblings' 2023, mixed media and embroidered sample board by Alex Vincent Textiles
Details of embroidered fabric panel 2023, by Liss Cooke
'Fly Stitch Autumn Landscape' 2017, by Isobel Currie
Left: 'The Uncovered Secret Sin' 2023, by Madelaine Atkinson. Centre: 'Cease and Desist: The Sin Eater 2023, by Teresa Burrows. Right: 'Linking Realities' 2023, by Vella Akhtimer.