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The Art of Embroidery: Nicola Jarvis and May Morris
with Nicola Jarvis
on 04 June 2019

Nicola started her talk by describing her training at the Royal School of Needlework, then an apprenticeship at Hampton Court restoring and maintaining old costumes and textiles. She moved on to work in fashion design and, in 2011, she was part of the team which embroidered the lace for the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress.

After gaining a BA in Fine Art, she went on to study for an MA and it was then she saw a poster for a competition called ‘Inspired by Morris’. She quickly entered this with a drawn self-portrait overlaid by Morris inspired fabric, and she was the overall winner. Her prize was to stage a show at the William Morris gallery in Walthamstow, and she was given freedom to decide her own style under the title of ‘Art of Embroidery.’

Nicola had always been interested in William’s daughter May, as she is often overlooked as a designer and accomplished embroiderer. Nicola began to study May’s drawings and colours and her interest in botanical drawings and these began to inspire a collection of bird paintings using Morris based fabric designs to overlay and enhance the bird’s character. Nicola needed the help of a team of friends and volunteers from all over the world to embroider the designs, and gradually the show took shape. It was very well received; the biggest surprise was the popularity of a few embroidery kits Nicola had put together for sale.

The exhibition went on a tour of shows and National Trust properties and again the kits were selling very well. This showed Nicola what the next step in her career should be, and she continues to design embroidery pieces which are sold all over the world.

A very interesting talk, showing that you should always follow doing something you enjoy as you never know where it will lead you.


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