About E.A.S.T

East Anglian Stitch Textiles (E.A.S.T) was formed in 1995 in response to a demand for a self-supporting framework for textile artists in East Anglia, UK.


The membership of this group commenced with ten artists and now has fifteen.


Since it's inception E.A.S.T has had a close relationship with Braintree District Museum where it meets monthly and held the first E.A.S.T exhibition in 1997.The group continues to be mentored by Anthea Godfrey, Artistic Director of the Embroiderer's Guild.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Embroiderers' Guild at Harrogate

Last weekend I spent three days - well two and a half actually because I had to look around the Textile Gallery - on the Embroiderers' Guild stand at the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show.
The Guild exhibited in the King's Suite, a gallery which was opened at the show for the first time and turned out to be a large, wonderful space.  Anyone visiting the Learning Curve had to pass by, and there was a lot to see: the Graduate Showcase, the Capability Brown project, items from the Collection, small pieces from old textiles and books and magazines to buy.  There was also the opportunity to join the Guild and several members of the public did so.

I spent most of the time encouraging the passers by to add to the longest embroidery which stands at six hundred and five metres in length and was begun in 2003.  Needless-to-say only about eight metres was on show at any one time but people were able to find plenty of space to add their stitches.  One fourteen year old girl reckoned she had never sewn before but she produced an immaculate line of straight stitching roughly twenty centimetres long which she wove through.  I managed to persuade a couple of husbands to add some stitches and the boyfriend of a stitch enthusiast added some marks in recognition of an earlier weekend with his girlfriend at a motor show.

I know that many of the EASTies are members of the Embroiderers' Guild attending different branches in the Eastern Region, and like me, I'm sure, would have been impressed by the display presented, due in no small way to the hard work and commitment of Anthea Godfrey, the Artistic Director of the Guild and, of course, our mentor.  However, she wasn't alone.  Pat Tempest, Annette Collinge, Alex Messenger, Amanda Smith and Liz Smith from the Guild also gave their time and enthusiasm to make it a very successful  weekend.

I had a brilliant time and I have posted three images - one of the White Walker who spent the weekend in Hall C and I helped to dismantle, and two from the Capability Brown Project - a detail from work by Sian Martin and Diana Springall.

The White Walker and

                                                    and a detail from Sian Martin's and

Diane Springall's work for the Capability Brown project.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Braintree Christmas Fair

Yesterday Carol, Libby and I ran a stall on behalf of EAST at the Braintree Museum's Christmas Fair.  The event was run to coincide with turning on the Christmas lights in the town but that wasn't going to happen until it became dark.  In the meantime there was a choir, two groups of Morris dancers, one male, one female, and some stalls in the centre of town.

There were eight tables in the Learning for Life room at the Museum of which we were one.  Several sold food and the remainder were displaying crafts.  One interesting stall was run by two newly qualified graduates who had set up a company called Boxford Candles and made scented candles in tins and chinaware which they had bought at auction.  Carol and I smelt their wares and Carol spent some money.

Unfortunately for us all, the weather was extremely cold and the town fairly quiet.  Towards the late afternoon the Museum filled up a little with young families because there was a children's workshop and a face painting event.  However, the clientele were not really interested in our beautiful, handmade decorations and present ideas.

We did sell a few items but only to ourselves, so we packed, up early and got home before it was too dark.

Every cloud has a silver lining.


Wednesday, 9 November 2016






Wet / Fired - The Eighth Biennale of Israeli Ceramics 

Last week I was able to attend this amazing exhibition. I could not believe that two years had passed since the last one. Yet again this collection of  artists provided a show that exemplified the wide range of ceramic art today. From huge crates and structures to tiny porcelain forms, the work was exciting and inspiring. It seems that the variations in this field are as vast as those within the area of our textile art.

What was noticeable this year was the inclusion of many video installation art pieces. One image showed a woman lying on her back having liquid clay poured into her mouth. Weird and mesmerizing!  The recordings all had a ceramic theme and added an interesting dimension to the show. I wonder if this might also become a feature of textile exhibitions of the future? 

I have included just a few of the images that caught my eye. 
For further inspiration take a look at the museum website, www.eretzmuseum.org.il

Melinda

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Shakespeare and Textiles?

It seems a little out of context that a blog about textiles should mention two of Shakespeare's comedies but I've just returned from Chichester where I saw Love's Labours Lost and Much Ado About Nothing performed by a superb cast from the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The reason for quoting the plays here is because, in this production, they are set at a time which bookends the First World War and although we are now Following a Thread, I couldn't help but be transported back a couple of years when all my energies were focused on work about that conflict.

Loves Labours Lost was written in 1595, Much Ado just four years later, and there is no evidence that Shakespeare marked them out as a pair. The first play isn't performed very often because the use of some very Elizabethan wordplay makes some of the text particularly hard to understand.  However, four young men take an oath to foreswear the company of women, to eat frugally and to spend their time studying.  Needless to say, this is impossible for them and many silly incidents take place before the end of the play when the women dispatch the men for a year and a day to prove the seriousness of their love. But, the period is Edwardian and the atmosphere light hearted until it is obvious that they are off to war - a war to end all wars.

Much Ado About Nothing opens in the same stately home, now set with hospital beds, and the return of the young soldiers.  The men now appear more sober and aware of their responsibilities and the whole courtship of Beatrice and Benedict unfolds with greater emotional maturity.

What struck me most about these productions was first how the atmosphere of Loves Labours Lost  evokes the hot summer of 1913 when the British were supremely content with the status quo and how the atmosphere changes as the men go off to fight.  Then secondly, as Much Ado begins, the characters return in a more complex form, portraying greater sophistication in their understanding  of life and love.

I highly recommend these productions, both full of fun, and music, which are due at the Haymarket Theatre for the winter season.  Even if Shakespeare isn't really your thing, the productions highlighted once more the changing landscape of the early twentieth century which we all highlighted in Between the Lines.




A rose which I've made as part of my Following A Thread exhibit.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Drawing for Textiles

Lorna's blog for EAST -



"In October Libby and I had the privilege of a trip to West Dean College in Sussex for a 5 day course with Mathew Harris called ‘Drawing for Textiles’.
It was I felt a very relaxed course, which I thoroughly enjoyed, just what I needed to set me up for the winter.



The first day Mathew set up a lot of items hanging together, like an installation, and told up to draw the whole using in pencil looking only at the subject and not removing our pencil from the page, this caused some interesting results.  Next we were told to draw the subject again using light pencil for distance, medium pencil for midway views and heavy pencil for items close to us, he also said to move around drawing from differing angles and views. This again produced some interesting results, some people seemed to have difficulty interpreting this idea, but I think we found it interesting.






After this it was up to us, with Mathew’s advice, to add some colour and use our drawings to consider what we would do with them for design. I managed to find several great ideas and some which did not work at all.  Many of the group then went into needle and thread to interpret their ideas, but I stayed with drawing and collage which I found very rewarding. All in all a very enjoyable week.

Libby and I stayed an extra night to avoid the Friday afternoon M25 rush, we had a lovely walk in the beautiful grounds and a nice relaxing evening in the lounge.  My thanks go to Libby for all the driving which is much appreciated."





Friday, 14 October 2016

Edward Hopper

One of the events I attended at the Cheltenham Literature Festival was a lecture on the American artist Edward Hopper (1882-1967) given by the art historian and critic Rosalind Ormiston.  The talk was called Edward Hopper: The darker side of the American dream.

I chose this event because both Alfred Hitchcock and Cornelia Parker had used Edward Hopper's House by the Railroad as the inspiration for their work, Hitchcock, for the house in the film Psycho, and Parker for The Roof Garden Commission, on show this Autumn at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC.

Ormiston pointed out how Hopper's work portrays the loneliness of city living.  In many of his paintings, a figure (often using his wife as a model, an accomplished artist in her own right) is placed to one side of the canvas, gazing out of a window or door, suggesting all sorts of questions for the viewer's mind, while in others, the scene simply depicts sunlight casting shadows on an empty room.  Hopper, who was fascinated by light, eschewed the artistic trends of the day and "ploughed his own furrow" until his death.

Several facts drew Hopper to my attention.  He was born the same year as Virginia Woolf,  I had seen Cornelia Parker talking about her installation and my drawing teacher is always emphasising the importance of showing how the light falls on any subject I am trying (not very successfully) to recreate on paper.

                                              The House by the Railroad Edward Hopper

Monday, 3 October 2016

Opus Anglicanum

If you are able, spend a day in London before Sunday 5th February 2017 and visit the Opus Anglicanum exhibition at the V&A.  It celebrates a time when English work (Opus Anglicanum) was sought after by popes, churches, wealthy families across Europe and as diplomatic gifts. Techniques which are still in use today, split stitch and couching, were employed by professional artists (skilled women and men) in workshops behind St. Paul's Cathedral and in Cheapside from the late 12th to the mid 14th centuries. One misconception was that nuns were responsible for the work but recent knowledge has shown that towards the end of the period, workshops led by men were the norm.

Much of the  needlework on display was on linen or silk cloth lined with linen. The silk was imported from China or Italy along with threads which had been especially dyed. Copes, chasubles or orphreys were stitched with scenes from the life of Christ, interspersed with flora and fauna, for use in ecclesiastical ceremonies.

Over half the exhibits in the exhibition are from the V&A collection whilst the remainder have been borrowed from various establishments across Europe and North America.  Some of the items are for secular use - for example, the surcoat worn by Edward, the Black Prince, along with his shield, two seal bags, a pair of Episcopal shoes from the tomb of Archbishop Herbert Walter (1170-1200) in Westminster Abbey, and horse coverings.  You can also see a large wooden chest which was used to store copes.

One of the most fascinating exhibits was a piece which showed both sides of the work.  This had been executed on velvet so it was easy to see the relief.  Also, a couple of copes still had seed pearls as part of the decoration, intact.

The images below show a  detail from the Jesse Cope, 1310-25, from the V&A collection and a musical angel on horseback from the Steeple Aston Cope,1330-40, loaned by the church wardens at Steeple Aston in Oxfordshire.

I urge you all to go along and be stunned (and humbled) by textiles which are over seven hundred years old. I had a lovely day.