The beginning of the year

I do love the time over New Year, with new beginnings and a fresh start. After a busy year I look forward to the time off over Christmas and enjoy the family time enormously but my desire to get back to ‘normal’ leads me rapidly into the studio to get creative.

It’s a good time to plan new work, try out ideas that I have been mulling over for weeks. Time to experiment a little, take some risks, tackle a big project with no time restrictions. I wanted to make another sweeping vista style landscape and choosing the right image is so important. Last August, on my way from the Yorkshire Sculpture Park to Manchester, driving along through the beautiful countryside of the Derbyshire Peak District, I took masses of photographs. I was captivated by the tracery of crumbling dry stone walls creating a network of fields, with distant sunlit hills covered in purple heather, visually stunning! I have often thought of that scene and was keen to make an embroidery that captured my feelings on that day. My aim was to find a composition that conveyed the enormous sense of scale and all the textures, details, colours.

A sketch of the composition on several sheets of A4 paper.

I based the composition on a series of photographs, I played around to get the perspective right, sketching out 2 or 3 versions until I was happy with it. I then draw it out on silk and paint a background wash adding extra detail to the sky.

I work within an 8 in embroidery hoop so I stitch one section at a time until its complete, moving the hoop as many as 8 or 9 times to access all the composition. I do like this way of working, I don’t get overwhelmed by the scale of the piece. It is 26 x 12 inches and focusing on one small area at a time seems to work well for me. Of course it could be because I have always done it this way. If it aint broke, don’t fix it!

There is a real momentum that builds on the success of each stage of the picture. As I progress from area to area working out the colours and stitch techniques I am spurred on to complete it. I call it being in the zone, it’s a great feeling!

Finally, the finished piece, and an enormous sense of achievement.

The first outing for my new work will be exhibiting at the Chelsea Flower Show in May, its a few months away but I have my centre piece ready!

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