An exquisitely-embroidered map of Northumberland National Park is on display in the Queen’s Hall, Hexham after a two-year journey from inspiration to exhibition.
It has been contributed to by over a hundred individual stitchers who have either attended one of the five public art workshops or have been asked by the artists to contribute something personal, demonstrating that this traditional craft is making a big comeback.
The artwork, featuring plants, animals and the varied landscape of the National Park’s 400 square miles, was created by Clare Satow of Bill Quay Fabric Workshop and Clare Armstrong a fabric artist based in Newcastle, together with many contributors from around the county.
The map was the brainchild of Mandy Roberts, National Park Engagement Officer, who wanted an attention-grabbing, portable artwork that celebrates the plethora of flora, fauna and cultural heritage that makes Northumberland National Park so special and loved.
The two Clares were given the task with the aim of involving as many people as possible in its creation, and the result is a surprising expression of the talent amongst country and urban communities and includes some very fine work.
The journey began in July 2012 at the Great North Museum in Newcastle. Museum visitors were shown items and information relating to Northumberland National Park and were able to try out various art forms to represent them, which led to a wealth of material that Clare and Clare could consider when determining how to produce the map.
The carefully mapped out rivers, hills and valleys were screen printed on to a linen base which was then developed with individual components. As it grew, the map was housed at Bill Quay Fabric Workshop where regular stitchers contributed, such as Jenny Burns with her stunning blackwork. Haydon Bridge Creative Embroidery Group was visited by the artists, and members worked on individual interpretations of the flora which now adorn the lower edge of the map. Many others made their mark at events such as Greenhead Farmer’s market, The Star and Shadow sewing event and at Clare Armstrong’s studio in Newcastle.
The project artists were chosen for their experience in fabric work, their networks of sewing devotees and above all for their ability to draw people in to having a go at public events.
Clare Satow works out of Bill Quay Fabric Workshop in Gateshead. She has 25 years of fabric printing experience and on the map she has included examples of screen printing, stenciling, lino print and free hand lettering, plus creative treatments that have no formal name.
Clare Armstrong is a Newcastle-based fabric artist who has developed many of the hand and machine sewn techniques that sit alongside established embroidery stitches that have been used to add the layer of embellishment following the printing stage.
Mandy Roberts said: “What I thought would just be a fun thing to do with a few groups has turned into something vastly more precious and lasting, and I don’t intend keeping it in a box. If any groups would like to see it or have a talk about making a sewing artwork I’d be pleased to hear from them.”
The exhibition at Queen’s Hall, Hexham, runs until 1st March after which the artwork will make public appearances throughout the year. More information about the map and its journey from conception to finished piece can found at www.
Category: Northumberland National Park