It was an absolute joy to visit St Fagan's National Museum of Welsh history just outside Cardiff this month.
On a beautiful spring day two groups of us were fascinated by textile curator Elen Philips’s inspiring thoughtful guide to some of the special stitched items in the Museum’s collections. She even took us around the stores and introduced us to a group of embroiderers working on a hanging for the Tudor Merchant’s House, re-erected along with many other buildings from all over Wales. Elen also introduced us to the concept of museology - a relatively new study of how to present museum items in a variety of thought-provoking ways.
The newly extended and revamped galleries invited participation by visitors and I especially enjoyed the Gweithdy a new building celebrating making in many materials including stitch quilting and clothing.
A wonderfully rich and inspiring day!
Report by Clare R
St Fagen's Castle, gardens & relocated houses
Esgair Moel Woollen Mill - moved to present location in 1950's. The current spinner and weaver did his apprenticeship in the mill 30 years ago and now maintains all the equipment and makes woven materials which are sold in the shop.
1725 Silk damask dress hand embroidered with silver threads. Owned by Lady Rachel Morgan of Tredegar House. This dress is currently on display for all visitors to enjoy.
Below is a selection of items shown to us by textile curator, Elen Phillips
Photos thanks to Clare R, Vernice C & Ellen S.
Congratulations from us all, Lindsay!
On Sunday at the Fashion and Embroidery Show at the NEC, branch member Lindsay S was the Visitors' Choice winner in the 2019 Madeira competition.
This year the challenge was entitled GLIMPSES OF ROYALTY and entrants were asked to create a rich embroidered piece inspired by royals throughout history – they could choose to capture Harry and Meghan’s romance, the grandeur of Queen Elizabeth, or even a Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt! With thousands of years of history to explore, there was a great choice and a wonderful selection of prizes to be won. It was supported by Stitch magazine with the Embroiderers’ Guild.
On behalf of all M&DEG members, congratulations Lindsay. You, and your work are amazing and a great inspiration to us all.
Nikki VW and Linda W also entered this competition and below is an image of Nikki's crown using recycled materials.
Thanks to Ann K and Nikki VW for photos
What wonderful imagination children have! Two years ago, a simple landscape background attached to a free standing frame was made by Maria Fraser for the Avebury Festival to encourage children to have a go at some textile artwork. The results were a few stitched flowers and clouds. It came out of storage for the exhibition last weekend and suddenly took on a new focus for the young would-be textile artists. Having seen the eclectic art styles adopted by the adults in the general displays, the children were keen to stamp their own individual creativity onto the work resulting in a wonderfully imaginative softly, cloud-strewn and sunshine-filled world where mermaids and whales share a virtual landscape with sheep, unicorns, horses and foxes! Of course, this is now no ordinary countryside scene, and has been recognised as such by its new name - “The Magic Garden”- which was given to the work by one of the would-be artists Eva Fraser (aged 10), who is also a member of the Young Embroiderers’ Guild
Twenty five year pins and certificates were presented to Margaret Gow and Rosemary Hawes by Ann Smith at the AGM meeting in October.
Rosemary and Margaret joined the Guild in 1991 after visiting an exhibition of embroidery together in the Marlborough library. Mary Greening was Chairman at the time and the subscription was £12.50. They recall enjoyable meetings in the Scouts Hut in Marlborough and workshops in the pleasant surroundings of Urchfornt College. However, soon after their joining, meetings moved to the Bowls Club, and before long, as numbers grew, transferred to the current location in Lockeridge with better facilities for both meetings and workshops and delightful views. Over the years they have both been involved with the branch’s various workshops and exhibitions, and have worked on several projects including the Marlborough Surgery hanging in 1997 and the Kennet Valley Embroidery which hangs in the hall. The embroidery now used as the reception desk tablecloth was renovated by Margaret and Rosemary from an earlier project made in the 1980s. One particular highlight they both recollect was spending days at Avebury Manor in 2011 helping to complete the embroidered bed hangings.
Rosemary has always enjoyed needlework from an early age. Her mother taught her to knit at age three, and a nun at her convent school taught her to sew and make Brussels lace. She now enjoys making quilts and all types of embroidery, and has been involved with the stitching of the Turkey work chairs at the Merchant House from its inception. She has also run an Embroidery Group for the U3A for the past 25 years.
Margaret learnt to sew with her grandmother and still has a handkerchief case embroidered in cross stitch, made in school. She taught herself crewel work and other forms of embroidery, mostly from books of which she now has a large collection; but has also learnt many skills from the various workshops she has attended over the years. She has also spent time on the Turkey work project, and is now happily involved in embroidering flowers for the Guild’s latest project – the Prospect Triptych.
Thank you Margaret & Rosemary for giving us these details.
Photos by Ros
At Marlborough & District Embroiderers’ Guild each Christmas we celebrate with a “bring and share” lunch and a “surprise” speaker. This year we celebrated our 40th Ruby Anniversary with a four day exhibition in April and we wanted to end with a grand finale.
About a year ago our Programme Secretary, Vernice asked if Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn would join us as our “surprise” speakers and to give the after lunch talk.
Just look at this "bring and share" spread! A big thank you to everyone for preparing such a delicious meal and to my fellow Committee Members for their hard work in decorating the hall and clearing up after and of course to Vernice for asking Jan & Jean to speak to us.
The Committee were sworn to secrecy so our guests and the remainder of our branch members, numbering over sixty, were thrilled to see displays of Jan and Jean’s work and to hear them talk about how they have collected ideas and recorded them over the years. They talked about their various trips abroad and how landscapes in Israel, Australia, the Grand Canyon and New Mexico had brought inspiration together with fossils on Charmouth beach, pot pourri jars, house renovations, craters on planets, the clock in St Mark’s Square in Venice and even the slime in Steve’s pond!
Below is a selection of photos of their work which they kindly allowed me to take and some of the images from their presentation. Sorry some of them are a bit skew! Click on the first image to enlargen and then you can scroll through to see the details of their exquisite work.
We were very grateful to Jan and Jean for making our Christmas meeting such a memorable one.
Report and photos by Ros
Our branch was invited to take part in the annual Avebury Day on Saturday 10 September. This was a great opportunity to show our work and to promote the Guild. The wonderful hanging which our Young Embroiderers created for our exhibition earlier this year was on display and, as you will see from the photos below, children were encouraged to stitch into a sampler.
There were a great variety of exhibitors - to the left and right we had a vintage fire engine and ferret racing!
Thank you Vernice and Lindsay for the photos. Ros
At our AGM on Monday Yvonne Miles stood down as Chairman after 7 years prior to that she was Secretary and speaker finder, making a total of 11 years.
Shirley Watson also stood down as Secretary after 9 years and was on the Committee a few years before that.
We thank both Yvonne and Shirley for all that they have done for the Guild – they will be greatly missed but we hope they will continue to enjoy all our activities from the side lines.
Susanne Stedman has kindly agreed to be Branch Secretary but unfortunately the position of permanent Chairman is still to be confirmed. For the meantime members of the Committee will take it in turn to cover this role for three month at a time with Clare Russell starting the new arrangement.
Report by Ros
Over 200 Embroidery Guild members representing 18 groups from the South West area gathered together for our annual Festival Day.
There were two speakers, Cas Holmes and Patricia Godwin, a large raffle, a lucky dip, competitions and displays.
The winners of the 'Superstition' competition - 1st Lindsey Sherwood (Red Sky at Night) Marlborough Guild, 2nd Jean Chisolm (Magpies) Blackmore Vale Guild and joint 3rd Gloria Pugh (Bride & Groom) and Mary Clark (Every superstition) both from Malmesbury Guild.
Competition entries from the host's guild Christmas competition 'Street Furniture' were exhibited.
The Young Embroiderers had their own display and competition which was on by Lottie and runner up, Emily.
Under guidance of teacher Katie Griffin, textile students from Year 10 at St John’s School put on an exhibition. A project was organised for the Festival Day and students took digital photos around the school which were then printed on calico and then stitched - the results were amazing.
Anna Nowicki and Jane Lemon
Festival guest Jane Lemon, international embroiderer and creator of altar frontals at Salisbury Cathedral viewed their work and was delighted with what the students were achieving.
There was an exhibition of quilts from Urchfont Manor. The new owner gave them to Marlborough & District Guild and our chairman Yvonne Miles thought it was appropriate for them to be displayed as many of the members at the Festival had attended courses at the Manor.
Display of Embroidery Guild colour samples
Retail therapy gave everybody the opportunity of stocking up their store cupboard and hopefully all the traders considered it a successful day. Our thanks go to Art Van Go, Burning Issues (Margaret Beal), Chrome Yellow Books, Indian Bazaar (Tiggy Rawling), Cupcake Cottons of Burford, Mulberry Silks (Patricia Wood), Silk Sacks, Simply Sequins and Winifred Cottage (Myfanwy Hart). A representative from Bernina was on hand to answer questions and demonstrate their latest sewing machine.
Ann Hampton, the Chairman of the South West Region opened the day by welcoming everybody followed by Terry Murphy, the Guild's CEO who talked about the past year at headquarters.
In the morning Cas Holmes gave the Madeira sponsored lecture - Urban Nature. Her work relates to the natural and built world and she uses found materials, domestic fabrics and gathered objects in her work. Cas told us of the time she found a Bernina in a skip and carried it home on the underground and was thrilled to find it still worked. We saw slides of her installations and she explained the inspiration behind them and their construction. Cas emphasised the importance of keeping a sketch book and said she likes time to reflect on drawings before using them in her work. She was also promoting her new book Connected Cloth to be printed in September 2013.
In the afternoon Patricia Godwin from the Palm Court Theatre gave a talk entitled “Anything Goes”. She entertained us with her tales of Edwardian elegance to the roaring 20's. She was offered newspapers, magazines and periodicals by the owner of a stately home who also had an attic full of period clothes and accessories. The Estate Agent recommended the price of £5 each so eventually she became the proud owner of a number of outfits. As each garment was displayed she read snippets from the papers relating to the time. She had us all in fits of laughter as she read advertisements for Vaseline, articles about Edwardian meals, driving and one about kissing. Each outfit came with its own accessories, stockings, hats, parasols and even a canary head and a motoring hat.
Next year's SW Region Festival will be hosted by Exeter & District Branch in East Budleigh.
Last week a group of us visited the NEC in Birmingham. Our ticket covered three different exhibitions, Sewing for Pleasure, Fashion, Embroidery & Stitch and Hobby Crafts. In addition to the retail therapy we enjoyed seeing our Macedonia Olympic postcards on display.
Brenda Hickinbottom also had her work on display. As well as being a member of the Marlborough & District Embroidery Guild, Brenda also belongs to Meniscus Textile Artists, which are based in Rothley Leicestershire. The subject for their stand was "Iconic Women" and Brenda chose the ATA Spitfire pilots in the Second World War for her work.
She tells me, her preparation included looking at photos of scenery and sky formations together with a lot of thinking time. She then drew a rough sketch of outlines for the overall size.
Using silk organza layers, trapping silk fibres and paper she free machine embroidered to create the shapes and textures. Letting the machine needle and threads draw the design in her head as you would a pencil when drawing.
In addition to the individual projects each member of the group made an apron with a single word on it and when displayed it read: "These aprons represent the traditional image of women but women are about more than this".
Information in this blog is provided by branch members who have attended the meeting, workshop or event.
Marlborough & District Branch is a member of the Embroiderers' Guild, the UK's leading crafts association
* The Embroiderers' Guild website -https://embroiderersguild.com/
* The Guild Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/embroiderersguild/
* The Guild Pinterest pages - https://uk.pinterest.com/theembroiderers/
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