The Fabric of Flowers - For Pleasure and Ornament

The Fabric of Flowers - For Pleasure and Ornament

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This talk is the second in our online series exploring how flowers and gardens have inspired textile artists on Mons@6pm from 19 Sep £5 each

About this event

Our interest in gardens has so much to offer us and in this, our latest series of talks, we are taking a sideways view by exploring how gardens and flowers have influenced and inspired other arts and crafts. This first series of 6 will focus on textiles and explore some of the historical and technical aspects of embroidering, weaving and printing using floral designs on fabric. We will look at textiles from Elizabethan crowns to Edwardian table linen to see how flowers provided inspiration, taking in the prolific art embroiderers of the Arts and Crafts Movement. We will then be brought bang up to date with two contemporary embroiderers with very different approaches to floral imagery who will share their design processes with us.


This ticket is for this individual session and costs £5, and you may purchase tickets for other individual sessions via the links below, or you may purchase a ticket for the entire course of 6 sessions at a cost of £24 via the link here.

Attendees will be sent a Zoom link 2 days prior to the start of the talk, and again a few hours before the talk. A link to the recorded session (available for 1 week) will be sent shortly afterwards.

Due to a recent Apple decision to charge a 30% fee for paid online events unfortunately you may no longer be able to purchase this ticket from the Eventbrite iOS app. Please use a web browser on desktop or mobile to purchase or follow the link here.


Week 1. 19 September: The Broderer’s Crown. First in a series of 6 online lectures, £5 each or all 6 for £24.

Week 2. 26 September: For Pleasure and Ornament. Second in a series of 6 online lectures, £5 each or all 6 for £24.

Week 3. 3 October: The English Rose in Life and Textiles. Third in a series of 6 online lectures, £5 each or all 6 for £24.

Week 4. 10 October: Flax Flower to Fine Linen. Fourth in a series of 6 online lectures, £5 each or all 6 for £24.

Week 5. 17 October: Gardening with Silk and Gold Thread. Fifth in a series of 6 online lectures, £5 each or all 6 for £24.

Week 6. 24 October: The Embroiderer’s Floral. Last in a series of 6 online lectures, £5 each or all 6 for £24.


Week 2. 26th September: For Pleasure and Ornament with Nicola Jarvis

‘From early childhood, drawing has been my primary means of responding to the natural world and my garden. For my seventh birthday I was given the ‘Tailor of Gloucester’ by Beatrix Potter. This little book has enchanted and inspired me ever since. Potter’s watercolours of eighteenth-century costumes sowed a seed for my future passion and career in historic hand embroidery. Her close observation of nature rendered through drawing and painting is mesmerising for me.

When creating a design for embroidery, I use drawing to study the characteristics of natural forms gathered from the garden, allotment or countryside. Making careful drawings helps to identify certain qualities in the various shapes and surfaces. Interrogating the colours, tones, textures and patterns through intricate drawing actions, enables me to penetrate beyond the physical layers to other surfaces and spaces that flourish in my imagination.

Designing an embroidery of a plant, creature or garden scene is the point where I formulate and plan stitching techniques that will most effectively render particular qualities in the image, and it is at this stage that I attempt to strike a balance between botanical and/or biological accuracy and decorative fancy. For me a compelling embroidered artwork possesses this irresistible tension between accurate observation and stylisation’.

Nicola Jarvis is an artist and teacher of hand embroidery. She trained at the Royal School of Needlework and received a Commendation from the Beryl Dean Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2018. After being awarded Overall Winner of the ‘Inspired by Morris’ exhibition at the William Morris Gallery (2010), she was invited to stage a solo show ‘The Art of Embroidery: Nicola Jarvis and May Morris’ at the gallery (2013). With funding from Arts Council England, Nicola toured the show to Arts and Crafts venues across England, including National Trust property Wightwick Manor in the West Midlands and Kelmscott House, Hammersmith. Alongside her colleague Lynn Hulse of Ornamental Embroidery, Nicola was instrumental in creating ‘The Needle’s Excellency’ exhibition of contemporary embroidery at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (2017) and ‘The Needle’s Art’ exhibition at the Bodleian Library, Oxford (2021-2022).

Image: ©Nicola Jarvis


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