I have been stitching from a very early age, first picking up a needle around the age of seven. By the time I was considering career choices, stitching was far from my mind as I assumed a creative path was not an option. My mother, however, disagreed and together we found the Royal School of Needlework which I joined on 1 September 2000.
The apprenticeship training I received at the RSN was a fascinating one. It had a firm base in tradition with skills being passed on from others who had received similar training themselves. These established methods are very important to me as so often these traditional techniques are diluted over time under the banner of ‘contemporary stitches’.
I have lost track of how many different embroidery styles I mastered during my training, but I definitely found several favourites which are my ‘go to’ stitching techniques: blackwork, goldwork and silk shading. Just keep the canvas away from me – we don’t have a happy relationship!
Since I finished my training, I have regularly passed on my knowledge and passion for embroidery at the RSN in a mixture of short courses, the certificate and diploma programme and by assessing the work submitted by students. The RSN holds a unique spot in textile tuition and I am proud to say I have been associated with them for the last sixteen years.
This association has continued to offer me some fantastic stitching opportunities over the years. I have embroidered elements of the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress, including a pair of her shoes. I have also worked on a dress for the Oscars when the Red Carpet Green Dress scheme visited the studio. There have also been several different Altar Frontals and other random projects which I have been called on to offer another pair of hands.
Having finally established my own studio space in 2013, I am now able to devote more of my time to developing my own embroidery practices. My aim is to produce highly detailed and specialised stitching which encourages the viewer to spend time studying the work carefully. I enjoy adding in little details you need to really look for. Hand embroidery is often considered old fashioned, but if I can create work which makes someone ponder hand stitching in an unexpected way, then I feel I will have succeeded.
My most recent work is focused on creating hyper-realistic embroideries, so far I have worked my own 3 cats and a series of birds. Moving forward I have more birds planned, but also some more exotic ideas which I am itching to start. Along with my artwork I am continuing to produce traditional embroidery kits with a contemporary twist along with a wide range of classes and distance classes.