What a whirlwind of a week it’s been here – I’m just back home from London Olympia and the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show 2015. I had the pleasure to exhibit alongside ‘Mr X Stitch’, the first time I’ve exhibited since graduation, and the wonderful experience of teaching dozens of visitors their first cross stitch.
Mr X Stitch curated the ‘Inspiration Station’, a combination of various embroidered artworks and an informal ‘drop-in’ space to hang out and try your hand at some stitching. On display were various visual delights to excite and inspire. Entries from the Young Embroiderers’ Guild’s annual competition, the theme of which this year was ‘All That Glitters Is Not Gold’, were marvelled at by many. (On the wall of the above picture is the winning group entry from the Oxford branch of Young Embroiderers, testimony to the creativeness and enthusiasm of kids ranging from 5-17.) We also had cross stitch from Mr X himself alongside some stumpwork, blackwork, redwork and machine embroidery. Sampler frames from the Royal School of Needlework’s first year degree students showcased their incredible canvaswork talent, and students from the course were helping out over the weekend, teaching and talking to visitors.
My ‘Chocolate Bars Re-Written’ had their first public outing, showcasing the skill of technical goldwork combined with a contemporary imagination. I certainly seem to have captivated the imaginations of all of those who were so generous with their kind compliments of my work. ‘Goldwork’ need not remain a slave to ‘traditional’ colours or subject matter, and although maintaining an exemplary level of technique is absolutely key in my work, I enjoy the contemporary ‘edge’ my humorously dark interpretation has achieved. Watching the reactions of visitors walking past thinking ‘oh look, a chocolate bar’ before the ‘realization’ a few seconds later of just what I’d done with the typography was also rather fascinating to witness.
Alongside a machine-embroidered William Blake, an anatomical heart, a stumpwork heart and a redwork pistol (sadly not my own work), I also exhibited some blackwork as examples of the technique. (Girls, guns and skulls: what more could you desire?). We had no shortage of visitors eager to try their hand at some counted cross stitch inside, many of whom I hope will also find themselves enthusiastic to progress to some blackwork…
We also played host to the World’s Longest Embroidery, established by the Embroiderers’ Guild in 2004 and certified a record-breaker by the Guinness World Records. The entire thing, about a foot wide and with one constant line running through the centre, measures a staggering 605m (although we only had 100m on display). Many people sat and added their own motif, initials or date to the ongoing piece. ‘What to do with it next’ was a popular question, to which I can only suggest that it makes an exceedingly long scarf (to rival even Tom Baker’s as Dr Who), a useful covering for an Egyptian mummy, a ribbon to tie round an entire building, or alternatively the world’s longest trip hazard. Can you think of any others?
All in all I had an exquisite experience over the four days we were at Olympia. I met some wonderful people and had the chance to both inspire others and be inspired myself. From five-year old girls successfully mastering their first cross stitch to grandma stitching a skull, alongside the other exhibitors and professionals I had the good fortune to encounter, I am overwhelmed at the sense of enthusiasm and community sustained throuought the show.
See you at the next one! In the meantime, check out the entire photo album at….