Tag Archives: Missenden Abbey

Missenden Abbey Diploma shows

Bobby Francis

The Missenden Abbey Open Day last weekend was a wonderful display of work across a range of different subjects. There were tutor displays that included floral art, beadwork, botanical painting, watercolour, ceramics, mosaics, batik and goldwork. I had an interesting conversation with a graphologist, who ‘read’ my handwriting with great accuracy. She seemed quite intrigued by the fact that I can write fluently in joined-up mirror-writing (not the most useful skill in the world, but apparently quite interesting for a graphologist. I gather I share this strange phenomenon with Leonardo Da Vinci and Lewis Carrol!). I remember quite clearly one day, as a child, I just decided that I would be able to do mirror-writing, and sat down and did it. It didn’t take any practice. There was a strange way of shutting off the part of the brain that said I couldn’t do it, and almost hypnotising myself into knowing that I could do it. It seems to be important that I have both feet planted on the ground, and that I am relaxed. There’s a process of kind of ‘sinking down inside myself’ almost like a meditation, and then it just happens. I have no idea why, or what it means. The only thing I do know is that it feels just the same as being absorbed in observational drawing.

We were impressed with the City and Guilds student work in Stitched Textiles (Embroidery) and Patchwork and Quilting. The photo above is a piece by Bobby Francis. It is a big ‘installation’ of exuberant folded strips of stitched paper, which cascade from a height of about 6ft, to a ‘tumble’ on the floor. Below left is the ‘tumble’ as it lands on the floor, and below right is a detail of a stitched ‘seam’ that runs down the piece. I wondered if it was inspired by seams in rock, as rock formations was Bobby’s subject for her Research Project.

Bobby Francis, C&G Stitched Textiles

Bobby Francis, C&G Stitched Textiles










Bobby Francis

I watched Bobby’s Research Project with particular interest as her chosen subject (rock formations) was similar to mine (rocks and fossils). However, it’s amazing to see how very differently things turn out, even from a similar starting point. Here are a couple more of Bobby’s pieces (left and below) both of which I find very striking and exuberant.

Bobby Francis, C&G Stitched Textiles

In complete contrast, this lovely piece (below) by Barbara Deacon is stitched in delicate detail. It was made for Barbara’s god-daughter and her husband, and features the two continents of Africa and India that they each have particular connections to, through historical family connections and through travel. Dyed fabric is used beautifully for the sea and the land-mass, and the stitching is exquisite. I love the spirited elephants trotting across the top (see detail below).

Barbara Deacon, C&G Stitched Textiles (click to enlarge)

Barbara Deacon, C&G Stitched Textiles

Barbara Deacon, C&G Stitched Textiles (click to enlarge)

I think a mark of a good course is when each student develops work that is unique and personal to them. Another good example of this from the Missenden Abbey show is the work of Anne Lange (pronounced Anna). Anne’s special subject was lettering, particularly examples of specific historical bibles. Anne spent time doing observational drawings in the British Library, and researching old documents in her home town in Germany that have particular historical resonance for her family history. The piece below is a great example of her use of ancient styles and lettering, to produce a rich, encrusted piece that has echoes of medieval illuminated manuscripts as well as Opus Anglicanum goldwork, blending the English and German traditions together.

Anne Lange, C&G Diploma

Anne Lange, C&G Diploma

Anne Lange, C&G Diploma

The piece below by Anne shows her use of rich encrusted ‘bling’, in an arcading design that could be medieval. I recommend that you look at her website to see more examples of her work. There are some lovely goldwork pieces there, and some interesting Mandalas. Anna runs online stitched textiles courses from Germany, which can be accessed from other countries too. Check out her website here



Anne Lange, C&G Diploma

A special mention should be made for Anne’s husband Burkhardt. Anne has travelled all the way from Germany for each of the Missenden Abbey C&G Certificate and Diploma weekends, spanning six years in total. Burkhard has driven with her from Germany each time, allowing her time to stitch in the car. Once I heard that, I discovered that I can stitch in the car without getting car-sick. Wonderful use of time. Husbands take note!!!

The Patchwork and Quilting work was impressive too. There were some beautiful full-sized quilts which I haven’t included here as I didn’t manage to catch the people who made them to ask their permission to put them on my blog. However, I did manage to catch up with three quilters who had made some small pieces ‘in the style of’ well-known quilt artists. It’s an interesting idea, to take the style and methods of someone well-known, and blend that with your own subject.

Chris Beamish, 'in the style of' Alicia Merritt.

Chris Beamish, ‘in the style of’ Alicia Merritt.

Chris Beamish, ‘in the style of’ Alicia Merritt (detail, click to enlarge).

Alison Mayall, 'in the style of' Phillipa Naylor.

Alison Mayall, ‘in the style of’ Phillipa Naylor.

Alison Mayall, 'in the style of' Phillipa Naylor (click to enlarge).

Alison Mayall, ‘in the style of’ Phillipa Naylor (detail, click to enlarge).

Kay Lockie, 'in the style of'  Kate Doughty.

Kay Lockie, ‘in the style of’ Kate Doughty.
















Unfortunately I completely missed all the Patchwork and Quilting Certificate work, as we accidentally missed out a whole room. Congratulations to Charlotte Haenlein, a Patchwork and Quilting Certificate student, who is being nominated by Missenden Abbey for the Medal for Excellence. Hopefully we will see some of her work somewhere soon.
















City and Guilds Medal Award Ceremony

Medal Presentation. Left to right: Margaret Walker,  Chief Verifier for Creative Studies at City and Guilds; Janet Edmonds, Embroidery Tutor; Me; Beth French, Adult Learning Service Manager for Bucks CC.

Medal Presentation. Left to right: Margaret Walker, Chief Verifier for Creative Studies at City and Guilds; Janet Edmonds, Embroidery Tutor; Me; Beth French, Adult Learning Service Manager for Bucks CC.

What a big day on Saturday! Missenden Abbey hosted a lovely event for the presentation of the City and Guilds Gold Award Medal for Excellence for Stitched Textiles and for Floristry. There were a hundred or so people in the audience, including current City and Guilds students, my fellow Diploma students, Missenden Abbey staff, and DH for moral support. Thanks to Alison Pearce at the Abbey for organising a lovely event. It was all quite nerve-racking for someone who doesn’t like to be the centre of attention, but I really appreciated that the Abbey made it a special occasion. Despite my nerves it was lovely to be made a fuss of. The ceremony was for two of us – Jill Harden won a Medal for Excellence for her Floristry course. Here’s a photo of all of us.

Margaret Walker, Janet Edmonds, Me, Beth French, Jill Harden (Floristry Award Winner),  and Jill Booker, Floristry Tutor.

Margaret Walker, Janet Edmonds, Me, Beth French, Jill Harden, Floristry Award Winner, and Jill Booker, Floristry Tutor.

It felt very unreal to be receiving this award, because of my real diffidence, many years ago now, about signing on for the first part of the course (now the Certificate, then ‘Part One’.) I remember seeing the end of course show at Northbrook College and feeling inspired to try it but also feeling quite intimidated because I didn’t see how I could possibly reach a sufficient standard to do the first course, let alone the second one. Luckily the tutor, Sue Munday, made me laugh about this apprehension and so she was able to introduce me to the delights of design, colour, stitch and particularly machine-embroidery. It was many years later that I signed up for the Diploma Course with Janet Edmonds, and continued the creative journey. Janet has been an inspiring and encouraging teacher, who has opened door after door into new worlds. Her own work is amazing, and we have all learned so much.

I was really pleased that my fellow-students were able to come to the presentation. The support of the group has got us all through many ‘life events’ during the course, as ‘life’ has taken it’s twists and turns over the three years. It has been a pleasure to work alongside such positive and enthusiastic people, who are now firm friends.  Here we are, together with Janet Edmonds.DSC09999

Here’s Janet receiving her thank-you present from us, some time ago now, at the end of the course. It’s a sewing-roll, designed by Cheryl and stitched to her instructions by the four of us.DSC08437DSC08442

‘…a heaven in a wild flower’

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.  (William Blake) 

People ask me why I’m setting up a website and blog. Sometimes I burble something about creativity and joy, but I often trail off in favour of the ‘sensible’ reasons, such as ‘I hope to develop my textile art more professionally’ or ‘I plan to offer work for sale’. Occasionally I talk to someone who ‘gets it’ straight away, which encourages me to carry on with my rather vague and half-hatched ideas (thank you Holger in particular, for insight and encouragement just at the right point). 

Dali's clock

Dali’s clock. What a sensible way to organise time.

Anyone with a passionate special interest may know the intense pleasure of being totally, ridiculously absorbed. I find that a strange thing happens when I’m involved in art or stitch. The annoying, insistent logical left brain gets blocked, and the more diffident, easily intimidated creative right brain finally has space. Irritating things that get in the way are quite simply shut out (clocks, timetables, sharp or jagged noises, and all the insistent things that bleep, ping, flash, ring and insist on our attention right now). Time quite literally seems to stand still; but at the same time, in a way that I don’t understand, an hour can expand to become a day. Whoever decided that the day could only have only 24 hours in it is tricked into allowing some secret extra hours to slip in. You really can go to Narnia, have adventures for months, and get back in less than a minute. There is time to really look. Eventually something from the so-called ‘real’ world forces itself back in, and the volume of the ticks and tocks gets turned up again. But something wonderful happens when you share this total absorption with other people. The two worlds become less separated, and it is easier to cross from one to the other. I’m grateful to my fellow students on the City and Guilds Stitched Textiles course at Missenden Abbey for their shared obsession and absorption in minute details of important things, like colours, textures and shapes. I appreciate things that other people share on their websites or blogs (images, ideas, original work, thoughts and observations). So it’s time to add my own offerings.

Kevin, the magician who set this website up with me last week is away travelling, so I’m like a brand new driver out on the motorway with no instructor. I promised to try not to break the website while he’s away. I did manage to delete the whole Gallery instead of one image, but thankfully I found a way to reinstate it. Please bear with me if strange things happen. Anyway, I’m glad you’ve found my blog, and I’d love to know who you are and how you got here.