Wednesday, June 30, 2010

South East West Regional Day, Part I

"Thanks to everyone at Oxford Branch who helped to make this such a wonderful day", were the sentiments of Jill Drury, the SEW region representative of the Embroiderers' Guild. Her words were also fully endorsed by all the visiting members of the region, with loud applause.

There was a buzz in the air from the start with the traders starting to set up at 8.30 on a very sunny summer morning. We had a great selection of books, threads, beads and finished items to choose from.

Visitors started arriving around 9.30; how quickly the time goes when everyone is preparing for the day. The Morsbags, made by Oxford Branch members and given to visitors, were well received. Then it was time for a reviving coffee before settling down to hear from the EG and from the morning speaker.

Jill Drury appealed for new regional committee members, as a considerable number of the current SEW committee are standing down this autumn. Jill herself will be continuing for a further year, but is happy to explain her role to anyone who may be thinking of volunteering and she could help the next person to take over gradually.

Anthea Godfrey from Headquarters explained that Contact Magazine is now available as eContact on the EG website and rather than giving us all a speech, she encouraged us all to read the substance of what she would say on the EG website as well. No news was given regarding any plans for moving from Hampton Court.

Alastair McMinn from Coats Crafts was also there and kindly brought some threads for us to try out, lovely colours in cotton and rayon. It was mentioned that we had chosen a good day to get away from all the sporting activities; football, Wimbledon and a Grand Prix. However, not many people noticed that the rainbow squares had been hung up in a slightly different sequence to the rainbow. In the reception area, they were hanging in the colours of the German flag and the English flag, as a reference to the World Cup game being played that afternoon!

Bobbie Britnell was the morning speaker, what a great choice. Bobbie told us about her earlier work experience in Soho, making costumes for shows such as "The Talk of the Town" and "The Black and White Minstrel Show", earning £6.50 per week. Then she moved to Savile Row Taylors and decided that she would like to teach, so after a year of comprehensive tailoring training, she enrolled at teacher training and went on to teach at a Comprehensive school at Guildford.

From there she completed City & Guilds parts 1 & 2 and then moved to rural Shropshire, where she still lives. She works freelance accepting opportunities to work in the community with all ages and backgrounds, from primary schools to a local detention centre.

She enjoys Morris Dancing in her spare time. Her husband also dances and they accompany each other’s group by playing the backing music, Bobbie plays an accordion and it is the dances and the music which informs a lot of her quilts. She travels to Europe to participate in dancing festivals and enjoys seeing the embroidered outfits that some of the other dance groups wear. She sketches and takes photos while she is there.

She had a lot of pieces for us to see as well as slides to illustrate her talk. The quilts were colourful and curious including the charmingly named "Such a Getting Upstairs I never did see" – which was named after a particular Morris dance.

"Such a Getting Upstairs I never did see 1, 2001", courtesy of Bobby Brittnell

"Such a Getting Upstairs I never did see 2, 2001", courtesy of Bobby Brittnell

Bobbie uses a certain weight of cotton for her quilts and dyes them all herself. Then she bonds shapes and overstitches quite heavily, using a slight zigzag stitch all over. She is interested in trying to produce a 3 dimensional effect from a 2 dimensional piece, using very realistic shadow effects – down the edge of a pleat for instance. The effect was very realistic.

She has recently built a studio annexe at her house and runs courses there, both on her own and together with Ruth Issett. She also invites visiting tutors to run courses, see her website for further information.

Lastly, she showed us some of her recent work which has much more abstract, neutral coloured backgrounds but with the addition of the red tulips which some of us saw at Art in Action last year. We all thoroughly enjoyed the talk and seeing the quilts close up.

The Buttery produced a great lunch and the weather was nice enough to sit outside on the terrace, what a bonus.

To be continued ...

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