St. Paul’s Cathedral is a hot tourist spot for a plethora of reasons. Almost the entire ceiling of the Cathedral is covered in exquisite mosaics mostly done by the artist Sir William
Blake Richmond. The colors and intricacy of the mosaics are very hard to describe using words—standing under the works of art gives you a feeling you cannot define. It is the location in which Princess Diana and Prince Charles got married in 1981 as well.
The Broiderer’s Studio at the Cathedral was the reason for us traveling to this magnificent place. There were three women currently working on conserving numerous ecclesiastical pieces while also creating new works used in religious ceremonies. We learned all three of them attended the Royal School of Needlework, which was definitely evident in the work they were producing. The detail work on many of these pieces was impeccable and wonderfully constructed—especially since these women are volunteering to stitch purely for the love of it. Some of the many beautiful pieces we saw include the Hammersmith Cope and the Jubilee Cope.
We got to witness firsthand watching the process of repairing a lot of these ancient works of art. Including seeing the earliest stages of projects (sketches, first stitches) all the way up to final products (copes, mitres). I really enjoyed seeing all stages of their process—learning the types of thread they use, how they handle the artifacts with care, and which techniques are most successful. I loved seeing the delicacy of the goldwork on the copes and mitres. Noticing new techniques I’ve never seen in conventional embroidery works was also very inspirational—giving me lots of ideas for my final motif design at the RSN.
After we went to the Broiderer’s Studio, our group climbed all the way to the very top of
St. Paul’s, which was such a satisfying view once we made it all the way to the top. The view of London was quite astounding to say the least. There were about 600 stairs to climb, so the entire journey to the top increased my anticipation for what the view of the city would look like from one of London’s most iconic Cathedrals.
The Royal School of Needlework is “the international centre of excellence for the art of hand embroidery.” The RSN (for short) was founded in 1872 by Lady Victoria Welby with goals to restore historic textiles and to bring pieces back to life. The RSN is located at Hampton Court Palace in West London and offers courses for both beginner students and advanced. All classes are taught in small classes by tutors who have years of experience working with technical embroidery. The RSN offers four different programs:
1. Day classes
2. Certificate and Diploma in Technical Hand Embroidery
3. BA Hand Embroidery for Fashion, Interiors, Textile Arts
4. RSN Future Tutors Programme
The UK: Stitching a Cultural Identity study abroad students will be learning crewelwork and goldwork while at the Royal School of Needlework. Each technique will be taught in two week increments, for a total of four weeks at the RSN. We will learn how to complete start an embroidery project by framing, completing samples, and designing motifs. We will also be combining both techniques in order to complete a final motif that will show how much we have learned from the beginning of the course.
Above is a picture of part of the classroom that we will be working in. The lighting
in the room is just perfect for stitching. Most of our time will be spent in these seats working on our embroidery skills.
Pictured above is a few of the many different wool skeins available for students to use in their work. Choosing colors is difficult when there are so many to choose from. We were advised to choose colors with the same hue in order to complete shading pieces. We were also allowed to grab a few that complemented each other and a contrasting color as well.
Each 1st Monday, Mr. X Stitch hosts a cross stitch Hangout at Drink, Shop, Do in London. It is right around the corner from King’s Cross and has some delicious cakes to complement the fun of cross stitching! Please enjoy Angela’s video blog post and some of her images of the evening.
On June thirtieth, we visited the Clotheworker’s Centre. The Centre holds all the V&A’s textile archives. Everything was brought together, because textiles require a lot of care when it comes to preservation. The Centre replaced the study galleries at the museum; however, they still allow individuals to come and study the objects. They have several items donated from famous designers. Storing and keeping archives is becoming more popular amongst designers.
Storage at the Centre
During our visit, we were able to see several items containing ornate embroidery. I was most excited to see the “Elvis Dress” worn by Princess Diana on her visit to Hong Kong. The dress was absolutely stunning and a perfect example of how Catherine Walker and her husband thoughtfully designed each of her outfits.
We also saw two amazing caskets with the most intricate stump work. I have never seen anything like it. One even had a tiny garden inside. The final piece I enjoyed very much was the contemporary embroidery by Audrey Walker. Her piece of Lot’s wife was huge contrast to all the other pieces because it was a modern take on embroidery. I was glad to see her piece that resembled a painting, because it shows me how I could possibly use embroidery in my studio practice. Seeing both the traditional and modern needlework has left me feeling anxious to create when I return.
Our visit to the Centre was such a privilege, and one I will surely never forget. We were able to see amazing, historic works up close and personal. I am very thankful to have had this opportunity. I plan to use the pieces I saw as inspiration for my work here as well as my future works.
New Designer’s is a showcase that exhibits the fresh-minds of emerging designers from Europe, primarily the UK. I feel as if this is one of the most inspirational events we have experienced on our trip yet.This showcase is exhilarating for young designers because it shows what is possible and how satisfying it is to make our visions become a reality.
Seeing the work of many students studying the same field as me was eye-opening because it really proves what potential we have as emerging artists. Emerging designers have the ability to control the market, set trends, and create original designs based on our experiences with the modern world.
The showcase was located at the extremely large Business Design Centre right on Islington High Street. As soon as I walked into the facility I was already overwhelmed with excitement because of the density of students displaying their beautiful work. There was an abundance of work to be explored and absorbed, allowing me to notice what techniques used by the students were successful—and which were not. For example, a successful technique many students used was standing by their work and talking to the viewers about their process. This allowed me to view the work with understanding of the designer’s ideas and how time-consuming the process was. Also, there were a lot of students exploring techniques with fibers I had never seen before—so hearing their process was helpful and inspirational. For example, weaving processes that are new to me, or working with fibers to create 3-D structures. I now know how essential it is to market myself successfully as a designer, speak comfortably about my work, and organize it in a fashion that makes viewers want to explore my techniques more.
The students that had a “brand” or an overall cohesive collection caught my attention more—and most likely the attention of employers as well. These designers in particular had their own stylistic approach in every aspect of the presentation of their work. The work itself was unified due to the designer’s attention to color, technique and application. The presentation incorporated items/inspiration that led the designer to chose those stylistic choices without actually having to state them—which made more sense to more visual minds. It wasn’t difficult to understand where their inspiration came from and how they used it to achieve their finished works. Minimalism and visual displays created the most intrigue amongst viewers. It allowed me to assess what that designer wanted to reveal without overwhelming me with information I didn’t need.
Lastly, I noticed how important it is to market yourself. Many students had business cards that led me to an email at least. But the students that had websites and social media accounts allowed me to access their work/process again. I noticed these were the designers I remembered and truly, if I were an employer, these are the designers I would hire first. These two designers were part of the “One Year On” showcase, which was displaying the work of students that have been graduated for a year. Seeing the growth in professionalism and personal style from these designers and the undergraduate students was amazing. I really enjoyed noticing how these students have so beautifully made a name for themselves.
Overall, this experience was extremely uplifting—to see the work of students my age creating exquisite works and doing many of the same things I am doing in our program at NC State.