July 28, 2015

Stitchy Snippets: Art in Action

Roanna Wells - Obama Inauguration


Recently I had the pleasure to attend the annual Art in Action event in Oxford. Yes, the quaint old city that is known for, amongst a whole manner of English things, its ancient university dating back to the start of the 11th Century. Set in the lush grounds of Waterperry House, Art in Action is a hub of crafts people from all sorts of backgrounds who gather once a year to exhibit work, demonstrate and teach visitors in an array of disciplines.


I was invited by world-class embroiderer Diana Springall, to assist with her display of part of her 40 year old embroidery collection. The first pieces were bought from fellow students whilst Diana Springall was studying at university and from there she continued to expand her collection, which has a broad range of stunning work. What I found particularly fascinating, is how the collection records an evolution of British embroidery over the last four decades; how styles and materials have altered over the years. Here are some of my favourite pieces.

Prinkie Roberts


Margaret Nicholson - May Queen


Laura McCafferty - Bingo Women



During the event I had the chance to meet lots of amazing artists and crafts people. All of whom took time out for a chat. Carol Naylor is a textile artist who creates mesmerising landscapes using her own style and approach to machine embroidery; painting with the needle.

Carol Naylor - Lavender Panorama



Roanna Wells has developed her personal style of mark making predominantly using the seed stitch. Her work is often influenced by the visual effect of crowd formations found at large social gatherings. It is amazing how one stitch can be so effective.

Roanna Wells - Obama Inauguration


Another hand embroiderer who was demonstrating at the event was Amanda Wright. Her illustrative embroideries are all delicately stitched by hand. Amanda Wright expresses her enjoyment behind the process of hand embroidery. 'Hand stitched embroidery is a slow and linear process, but it allows time to reflect as the work progresses.'

Amanda Wright



A reoccurring theme emerging in different textile pieces was maps, all with a differing approach. Here are some examples.

Ekta Kaul - London Map


Janet Browne - Skipton Castle to Bolton Abbey 


Wendy Dolan - London on the Map


I found the whole experience to be extremely inspiring. The atmosphere was friendly and welcoming, the work was outstanding and we even had some sunshine. If you are passing through those neck of the woods next summer or fancy planning a trip then I would recommend making a detour to Art in Action, it is special.

"I believe that the purpose of art is to uplift people.” Bernard Saunders - Founder of Art in Action 

Hi, I'm Julia - an embroidery enthusiast based in Amsterdam with a lifelong passion for textiles. I like to mix things up by combining different techniques and mediums - my origami styled dress won the Hand & Lock embroidery prize. Join me on my exploration of embroidery with mixed media and fibre art.

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