Over the last few months I’ve been preparing some new pieces of work to display in a small exhibition during Sherwood Art Week. Sherwood Art Week is an annual event in an area of Nottingham near to where I live, and hosts three craft fairs, lots of workshops, artist events, displays in shop windows and also lots of fabulous yarn bombing. I’m taking part in the Art in Shops event, where many of the shop window displays feature the work of local artists and makers. I feel very lucky to have a prime spot in a charity shop called the Spaghetti Tree, right in the middle of Sherwood. The whole event is a fabulous showcase of the talent in just one neighbourhood of Nottingham!
I wanted to take a bit of a new direction with my work for Sherwood Art Week, and draw on a few sources of inspiration that had been twiddling around in the back of my mind.
We joined the National Trust last year and have since enjoyed visiting lots of beautiful houses- I like to look at the interiors and furnishings and my kids love the adventure trails and playgrounds. The houses themselves are brilliant sources of inspiration; one of my favourite National Trust houses is Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, which was built for a remarkable woman, Elizabeth Shrewsbury, known as Bess of Hardwick. Bess was a renowned needle woman and Hardwick Hall, for which building started in 1590 is full of examples of her own work, and tapestries which she collected. Popular motifs were fruit, leaves and plants, birds and wildlife, and also geometric patterns.
The geometric patterns in brickwork on the many Victorian houses in my area are also a source of inspiration, I’m often surprised by how beautiful and detailed some of the houses are, even my house has a teeny bit of fancy brickwork! These floral designs, I think, are crying out for an embroidered interpretation…
As I’ve been getting back into embroidery I’ve been researching different styles and methods, and also materials to use. I still want my embroidery to have a contemporary feel, even using traditional methods such as black work, crewel work and gold work also has a strong appeal too. I’ve been hoarding fabrics with simple but contemporary prints and colours to use as backgrounds, and incorporating more modern methods (such as iron-on metallic vinyl!) with the traditional stitches and modern motifs.
The brickwork patterns have inspired my geometric sampler style pieces.
Bess of Hardwick’s fabulous tapestries inspired my modern crewel work birds, flowers and cactus designs.
Chicken scratch (also called gingham lace, much prettier!) was the inspiration behind this little cloud. I can definitely see me doing more of this.
You may have noticed I’ve sneaked a bit of crochet in too, I think the little frames set the embroidery off nicely.
I’d love some feedback, so if anyone has any I’d love to hear it!