300 Years of Capability Brown

I’m working steadily on a piece of embroidery for the Embroiderers’ Guild partnership with the Landscape Institute, National Trust and English Heritage who are celebrating 300 years since the birth of noted landscape gardener, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, 1716 – 2016. Work will be shown all around the country at various stately homes, gardens and Knitting and Stitching Shows. I’ve chosen to exhibit at Stansted Park and at such a public venue I want it to be worthy of inclusion, so I’m taking my time.

Living on the Isle of Wight, I chose to base my work on Appuldurcombe House where Capability was called in by Sir Richard Worsely in 1779 to redesign the gardens or rather the landscape. Nothing remains of the plans, but 19th century travelers tell us it included some of his notable features, a gothic ruin – Cooks Castle, an obelisk, a ha-ha to keep out the cattle, without disturbing the view, and groves of noble beech trees indispersed with oaks. Usually water is a prominent feature of his gardens, but this proved difficult at Appuldurcombe. Eventually, in the 1830’s a circular basin with fountain was added.

All I have to show you at the moment is this sample. I am experimenting with a new technique, discovered in Wendy Dolan’s Layer, Paint and Stitch where pieces of different sorts of white and cream fabric, including scrim and lace, are layered to create a new surface before being painted. I have taken a motif from the ornate Freemantle Gate that welcomes visitors from Godshill to incorporate into the design.  I have experimented with stitching it and have also made a print block to stamp the design. The central feature will be in the shape of the Isle of Wight and worked on rug canvas, with stitch and applied felt and fabric.

Capabil blog


Home IV: Looking Through

This piece of work is a continuation of my Home series of embroideries and represents my 10 years in Leicester. Although I had a good job, good friends and met my husband there, it was always going to be transitory; too far from the sea, too grey and too noisy. The canal towpath was often the destination of Sunday walks. This bridge takes cars roaring over to Fosse Park, the out of town shopping ‘destination’, scarring the landscape as much as any graffiti, litter or barbed wire along the path.  The bridge is the gateway between the urban and natural environments, yet in reality the two intermingle and the noise of traffic is ubiquitous. At the time of photographing and planning this piece, my mother-in-law was in the hospice and lots of my photographs related to pylons, ‘danger of death’ triangles and barbed wire cutting into posts, trees and benches. In stitching the piece, some months later, time has healed the anger and my relationship with Leicester is now more of a sense of sorrow.  The ‘sorry’ graffiti was genuine, although artistic license has situated in the centre of the piece.

Worked on canvas, I incorporate canvas work stitches, applique and hand and machine-wrapped cords. I am particularly fond of the barbed wire around the edge – machine wrapped cords over wire. The graffiti gave me the opportunity to use embroidery floss on a smaller count canvas. This seems to be becoming my style and I like it.

I have decided to enter this into the Embroiderers’ Guild members challenge, ‘Looking Through’ although I am uncertain as to whether it will be accepted as the finished piece may be considered too deep for the brief. What is this uniformity all about? A certain depth so they can all be displayed together nicely! Anyway… lesson learned – check the brief next time!

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