Colourful show at Stirling Smith

A gloriously colourful show to brighten the darkest January days opens at the Stirling Smith next week.

Stirling and District Embroiderers’ Guild was founded in 1982 and is a branch of the UK charity, the Embroiderers’ Guild.

The local branch has a membership of around three dozen, some of whom are professional textile artists and teachers, and some of whom are amateurs, ranging from enthusiastic novices to those who have had one of the needle arts as their hobby for many years.

The exhibition in the Smith Art Gallery and Museum, Stirling, is a showcase for the members and their work.

The range of ability in the Branch is one of their greatest assets, as members have very different strengths and approaches and work in a wide range of techniques.

In the branch, there is always someone who can help sort out a difficulty in the design or execution of a piece of work and regular workshop Saturdays or evenings give great opportunities for watching, doing, learning and teaching.

Nationally, the Embroiderers’ Guild is an educational charity and membership organisation with a long history and over 9,000 members. It was founded early in the 20th century, a time when embroidery was flourishing as part of the Arts and Crafts movement.

The Guild centrally supports its network of almost 200 branches and holds a fantastic collection of 11,000 examples of textile art over the centuries. The oldest piece in the collection is Coptic

religious embroidery from the 6th century; some of the modern pieces challenge the term ‘embroidery’, which is why ‘textile art’ is also used!

The Guild is also responsible for two major magazines, Stitch, which features projects and techniques readily accessible to both the leisure textile artist and to the experienced professional, and Embroidery which focuses on the best in contemporary embroidery, with a spotlight on readers’ work and on artists’ studios, opening a window on how the craft is developing.

The Stirling Branch has monthly meetings, normally on the third Wednesday, from August until May, with a break in December.

Some of these are talks by practitioners, often illustrated with their work, while some are sewing evenings. There are three or four workshop Saturdays or weekends every year, either on a specific theme with a tutor, or as “Drop In Days” when members take along what they are working on, and spend time together as they all stitch.

Recent tutored workshops have included sessions on making Nuno and Cobweb Felt, and on Machine Embroidery.

Working together, the branch members have been involved in projects such as designing and making pieces for Strathcarron Hospice and an altar cloth for the Chapel Royal at Stirling Castle, and have just embarked on a project for the Smith.

Members have supported and run a Fine Cell Work group at Cornton Vale, working to develop skills. Members have also taken part in National Embroiderers’ Guild projects such as the Rainbow Squares [on exhibition at the Smith] and the Olympic Post Cards project, nearing completion. And they enjoy each other’s company. The branch is a very sociable one!