Wednesday, 11 May 2016


I have held a lifelong interest in art and embroidery. When I was moving towards retirement I decided to make space for my hobbies again.
I started studying botanical illustration in 2010 at an evening class .  The detailed work appealed to the patient side of my personality and also resonated with the gardener in me.  I felt inspired to paint plants in my garden.  I also attended courses at West Dean college and workshops run by the National Trust.  In the beginning I was keen to try varied approaches.
I also took classes with a local artist where I learnt to work with acrylics.  I found I wanted to’ break out’ after time spent working in detail.

However eventually I felt I was pulling myself in different directions and that my love was to use a botanical approach, even if occasionally I let go with a looser approach.

During this time, I had also taken up embroidery which had a similarly painstaking attention to detail.  I began using my paintings as embroidery designs , thus combining hobbies, and have used some as designs for my Royal School of Needlework Certificate and Diploma course.

I have exhibited paintings at the Society of Floral Painters where I am an associate member; I have also exhibited at the Association of Sussex Artists, the Southwater Art Club, Storrington Museum and Kirdford Community shop Art Wall.   I have participated in Horsham Open Studios 2015, 2017 and Brighton Open Houses 2016. My embroidery has been exhibited at Edexcel London and at Hampton Court Palace,

My interest in embroidery started from a young age, having been brought up in the fifties when The Woman's Weekly was a feature of our lives. Sewing was both a home pastime and part of the school syllabus. I remember binka canvas pieces, cross stitch table clothes, dressmaking and learning basic embroidery stitches.  I have a vivid memory of embroidering a budgerigar from one of those blue iron on transfers. I think I made it very grubby and managed to make a hole from unpicking it. I was obviously undeterred and at junior school gained a highly commended award in a local competition, for a small tablecloth in red, with white embroidered motifs all around it. I still have that tablecloth and it comes out at Christmas!

During my career as a primary school teacher I was lucky to have the freedom to focus on creativity and incorporate embroidery into the curriculum, something that is more challenging theses days.  I attended some inspiring creative courses and would take children's drawing and transfer them to fabric for embroidery at our art and sewing clubs.  Alongside this I continued to sew for pleasure doing tapestry, counted cross stitch and embroidery kits, but nothing original. I still have some of these.  

 I won a prize in the Dereham in Bloom event, for a herb embroidery stitched on fine linen showing a cross section of the plants above and below ground. The family had birth and wedding samplers and cross stitched Christmas and special occasion cards. And my finale was a Millennium sampler which I finally completed in 2010! 

My revelation came as I took a part time step towards retirement.  I treated myself to a weekend break about the Tudors and visited Hampton Court Palace.  I picked up a leaflet about the RSN, attended a day course a few weeks later and visited the tutor at Parham the following day for an exhibition .  There I met people from local embroiderers' guilds and the inspiration set me on a new path.  I joined the embroiderers' Guild and attended workshops learning a whole new range of techniques and I continue to go to day and weekend courses at the RSN.  During this time I felt the need for some more structured teaching and eventually once fully retired decided to invest some of my savings into attending the RSN Certificate.  This opened a whole new world to me which has led on to studying for the Diploma and using these techniques to experiment with other projects. I am now able to use techniques to interpret my paintings in stitch or to paint on fabric to enhance my embroideries

Profits  from items that people offer to purchase support charity mostly currently I am working to support children in a poor community in Nicaragua that I have visited and where I am returning to help them.
See my charity blog, Kids and Kayaks.

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