I visited the Embroiderers’ Guild international open exhibition ‘art of the STITCH’ in Birmingham this week and saw some wonderful work.  It describes itself as ‘a celebration of stitch and artists who successfully express themselves through this medium’.  All the work features stitch, either as a process or subject.



Tourists Contemplating the British Museum (detail) by Rosie James

Quite a few artists had used needle and thread in the place of a pencil or pen, producing free-hand sketches and drawings, many of which were figurative.  These probably caught my eye as life drawing has never come easily to me, so drawing with a needle is even more impressive.

Photography wasn’t permitted so I link to those artists whose work most inspired me, unfortunately I haven’t been able to find online images of the actual piece in all cases.

‘Pulling On, Slipping Off’ by Sarah Burgess.  A series of illustrations showing the correct way to put on and take off gloves.  The stitched hands and red organdie gloves had an elegance and charm that was a delight to see.

Ilaria Margutti and Rosalba Pepi from Italy collaborated as painter and embroiderer to create ‘Mend of Me’ – an arresting piece you can see in a detailed slide show here.

‘Kath’ by Andrea Cryer from the UK, two portraits – one showing the artist’s mother-in-law as an 18 year old, the other aged 88.  Black and grey machine and hand-stitching on canvas which you had to study close-up to believe.  They were mesmerising.  A detail of the first panel is shown here.  I cannot seem to find out anything about this artist or other works by her, if anyone knows do please add a comment to this post.  Thank you!

Shizuko Kimura’s ‘Studio view. And the cat came too!’ was like an enormous page from a sketchbook of life studies.  Hand embroidered in monochrome on muslin it hung 250cm high x 114cm wide.

Finally, a clever piece by Rosie James entitled ‘Tourists Contemplating The British Museum’ capturing the individual within a crowd, which was used on the front cover of the exhibition catalogue as well as the promotional flyer above.

art of the STITCH is at The Waterhall, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, until June 15.  It includes the work of 54 artists from 13 different countries.

28 September – 28 December 2008 Deutches Textilmuseum Krefeld, Germany

31 January – 21 March 2009 Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest, Hungary

25 April – 20 June 2009 – Fundacion Valentin de Madariaga-MP, Seville, Spain

If you get a chance to visit do come back and let us know which were your favourite pieces.

Have a great weekend.

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