Exhibition opens this Thursday!


Please join me for the launch of this year’s Remembrance Day for Lost Species exhibition: Extinct Icons and Ritual Burials.

Honouring lost and threatened species and ways of life, this group exhibition features my work, photography by Megan Powell, installation by Clare Whistler, textiles by OX Art, specimens from the Booth Museum of Natural History and accompanying poetry.
See here for more information about the project and accompanying events.
Date: Thursday 23 November
Time: 6:00 – 9:00pm
Address: O N C A 14 St Georges Place, Brighton BN1 4GB

The exhibition runs until 10th December. You will also be able to buy posters and art cards of the Extinct Icons series there (also available in my Etsy shop).

I hope to see you there!

Saint Benjamin

Saint Benjamin


Right back in January, I had intended this to be the second Icon I was to make. But some friends and my better judgement persuaded me to enter the Women’s Hour Crafts Council prize, and this was my entrant for the piece I would display if successful. I wasn’t. Here he is.


It’s an interesting facet of working like that though: I designed it months before, and at the time I had envisaged all the icons having quite similar halos and design elements. But as always I evolved throughout the project and so when it came to realising my original design, I was initially worried it now seemed too simple.


As I’d progressed through the series, I had incorporated a lot of symbolism as I usually do, and now looking at and researching the Thylacine, I couldn’t find many threads to pull on, to weave into this design.


My original design took as its focus the physical appearance of the Thylacine, a brown and black stripy animal, as the main characteristic of the Icon.



By this point I had also amassed a wealth of bronze and copper materials and deciding not to second guess myself, proceeded with the shape and composition as I had originally envisaged it.



I actually found designing with these colours quite challenging, as balancing the metallic tones of rose gold and copper, and bronze and brown, with black was tricky to not have them fighting with each other.


It was the goldwork that was the star of the show though.


I was using a basic cutwork technique, but alternating copper wire check with smooth purl over felt padding. Each one of the rays took about an hour.


Truth be told, I actually started this piece before Our Lady of The Flowers but had to abandon it about this stage as I was waiting on materials to come which ended up taking forever to arrive. Not ideal.


Here I have edged the alternate rays in copper pearl purl and then used two types of check to fill them in chip work – copper bright check and bronze wire check – and arranged them in an ombre pattern.



Again I was worried about the two tones clashing but was actually quite pleased with the way the bronze picked up the tone of the bugle beads.


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I carried on with this ombre motif with the infilling of bronze and black 3mm sequins.

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The finishing touches:


Although I fretted about the apparent lack of symbolism in this piece as compared to the others, out of curiosity I looked up where Carnelian comes from, and was pleased to find one of its sources is Tasmania.


Knowing the obvious great stretches of time it takes for the earth to ‘grow’ these minerals, I felt quite moved when considering the (albeit remote) possibility that these carnelians could have come from Tasmania, and could have been in the ground when Thylacines still roamed wild there.


\\ Saint Benjamin //
The Thylacine was the largest known carnivorous marsupial, and the last member of the family Thylacinidae. Also known as the Tasmanian Tiger or Wolf, it was a shy, nocturnal creature similar to a medium/large dog except for it’s pouch and dark tiger stripes on its back.
Intensive hunting encouraged by bounties, combined with the introduction of dogs and human encroachment into its habitat wiped them out in 1930.
The last captive Thylacine, Benjamin, lived in the Hobart Zoo for 3 years. He died on 7th September 1936 as a result of neglect – locked out of his sleeping quarters, he succumbed to exposure. Last year (2016) was the 80th anniversary of the loss of this species.


I now have poster prints and art-cards available of this series in my Etsy shop. The Witch of St Kilda poster is already sold out so be quick if you want to grab anything!

*** Workshop spots still available – details here!***

Our Lady Of The Flowers

Our Lady Of The Flowers


This one started differently, and with a lot of stumpwork again.


After it was confirmed that I would have my work on display at Onca Gallery for their Remembrance Day for Lost Species I wanted to make an Extinct Icon that specifically related to their theme for this year – Pollinators.


I knew immediately that it had to be a fruit bat. The importance of bats as a species has been close to my heart since I took part in a conservation project in Malaysia in my early 20s.


Bats are the bees of the tropical world, is something I’m fond of saying.


Three of the most important crops they pollinate are cocoa, banana and agave, amongst over 500 others we in the west are used to enjoying.


Bats are massively threatened by habitat loss – rainforests cut down for palm oil plantations being a big one.


So I was inspired by religious iconography from the tropical world, usually the Virgin Mary surrounded by very colourful flora and fauna (think Our Lady of Guadalupe).


I’ve not made detached slips so heavily beaded before and they were obviously a lot heavier than just embroidered ones.


I knew this one would be smaller given the comparative scale of a bat’s skull so I switched to my hoop.





The moon is a nod to the nocturnal habits of this species.



As is the starry sky here.




To combat the heaviness of the slips they were both plunged to the reverse as well as sewn along the sides, creating sort of cups.



In the United States bats provide an estimated $3.7bn in insect control, but in much of the rest of the world they are woefully under researched.
Many pollinating species of bats have already become extinct, like the Dark Flying Fox of Mauritius and Reunion, or the Guam Flying Fox, due to hunting from settlers, or habitat loss from mono culture farming like oil palm. But we just don’t know how many species may be threatened.

*** 25th November Masterclass is SOLD OUT!
BUT the good news is, due to popular demand I’m running another one on 2nd December! Only 3 spots left so move fast if you wanna make your own homage to the pollinators – details here!***

Saint Celia

Saint Celia


This was my least enjoyable icon to make, only because I made decisions that involved a lot of tedium and repetition.


It’s humorous as I write that though to think that this is possibly the Icon that most people seem to find most impressive, so I smile inwardly that it is in the spirit of the martyr that I toiled over Saint Celia to create something people find quite enthralling.


As you can see, she started as they all have, the skull already taking many hours more with the lines of the horn. I then padded the 5 stars ready for the goldwork later.


I initially outlined the halo in black beads but removed it later. This is the start of one torture self inflicted – those are 2mm sequins, each one hand sewn.


I made it bearable for myself by alternating techniques: The sequins, the goldwork chipping on the stars, and those lovely inky oily bugle beads on the interior.




I did agonise over those bugles until the end, worrying that the rainbow effect was too garish. Here I have also replaced the black beads with a gold bead outline.


Bugle beads have their own torture using them like this. The better quality you buy, the more equal and regular there size. This is actually counter productive here as you reach the end of a line and realise you need an irregular length. Thank heaven for broken chips and poor quality control.



Did I mention I also chose one of the smallest sizes of bright gold check to complete the chipping? Truly she inspired some sort of pilgrimage.






We approached some sort of conclusion.





Finally, I crowned her in a little laurel wreath of alpine herbs, made variously of velvet and embroidered slips.


I also surprised myself with these little flower sequins, thinking them to be quite tacky but actually they worked beautifully here and I think sets the whole piece off nicely.


FINALLY finally, I added yet more gold, in a foil-lined bugle corona.


The whole thing took me about 49 hours, nearly 15 more hours than other work in this series. Basically 15 hours + doing all the tedious tiny gold sparkles. I was very unsure about some of my choices and thought I’d put a lot of time into something pretty monotone. But I’ve learnt it’s often the way, that not until the final bead or stitch is placed, do I really see the whole piece and can change my point of view. I wanted to crown him (with those horns, Celia is a male I’m afraid) with small foliage I imagined might be like the alpine herbs he liked to eat, these stumpwork details tie everything together. The crown of stars is also known as the crown of immortality in religious iconography, and I like the idea that this reflects the Ibex’s unique position as being ‘resurrected’:


/ / Saint Celia \ \

The Pyrenean Ibex was a type of Iberian wild mountain goat, most common in southern France and the northern Pyrenees. They were quite abundant until the 14th century, and by 1900 their numbers had dwindled to fewer than 100 due to hunting pressure, and competition with domestic farm animals.
The last individual, a female named Celia, was found dead in 2000, apparently killed by a fallen tree.
The Pyrenean ibex is the only species to become extinct twice. In 2003 scientists cloned a female, who survived for several minutes before dieing from lung defects.


19″ x 12″

Upcoming Exhibitions, Workshops and Commissions

Upcoming Exhibitions, Workshops and Commissions


Lots of exciting news happening with me at Mother Eagle Towers.

First up, join me on 29th October in Worthing 10am-4pm for my Embellishment Workshop, where I will teach you the techniques to make one of three exclusive Halloweeny designs pictured above.

You will learn:

  • Felt padding
  • Applique
  • Embroidering over relief
  • French knots
  • Sequin techniques
  • Beading techniques
  • Wire wrapping
  • Plus lots of one-to-one coaching in applying your own creativity to textile design.

Suitable for all abilities, places are extremely limited and cost £75 which includes fabric, hoop, instructions, needles and use of my entire embellishment cache! Plus I can promise it will be a fun and informal day and there will be pumpkin themed snacks.

Contact me here to confirm your place!


Exhibitions this Autumn

Catch pieces from my Ugly Gods series at Stitch-Up at Brush in Brighton from 19th September until 3rd October.


I am also delighted to announce that you will be able to see the entire collection of Ritual Burials and Extinct Icons at ONCA Gallery in Brighton from 22nd November to 3rd December in the largest exhibition of my work to date. The event runs as part of the annual Remembrance day for Lost Species programme and promises to be a really dynamic and exciting curation of my work. The private view will be on the evening of 23rd November and I would invite you all to come along, I’d love to meet you.


As part of the programme of events for this exhibition and Lost Species Day I will also be running a Hand Embroidery and Embellishment Masterclass on Saturday 25th November at ONCA from 10am-4pm (times TBC). The theme of the workshop is Pollinators and I will be teaching techniques used to make one of 2 designs – a beetle (see above) or a moth/butterfly.

The day will be an exclusive chance to have a private tour of the exhibition with me, and a close look and explanation of the techniques used in my work on display. We will then get down to business customising and creating your chosen design, and will cover:

  • Felt padding
  • Applique
  • Embroidering over relief
  • French knots
  • Turkey Rug work
  • Surface embroidery techniques
  • Couching
  • Sequin techniques
  • Beading techniques
  • Wire wrapping
  • Plus lots of one-to-one coaching in applying your own creativity to textile design.

This will be a special day for textile art enthusiasts and due to the very limited nature of the places available, all abilities are welcome as I will be able to give lots of one-to-one attention. Places are £75 and will include fabric, hoop, instructions, needles and use of my entire embellishment cache. There will also be a special goodybag for each attendee!

Contact me here to confirm your place!


Last but not least!

After a hiatus of many years, commission slots are now available for purchase in my Etsy shop. Head on over there for all the details!