Alice Kettle

Textile Artist and President of the Embroiderers’ Guild


When I was invited to be President of the EG, I thought about all the reasons why I couldn’t and about everyone else who would be so much better. It seemed too big an honour, too great a role. But the EG said to me this is about passion, about leading through example, demonstrating the value and capacity of embroidery. So I accepted since embroidery is how I see the world, through the lens of textiles and specifically embroidery.

Embroidery has enriched and opened conversations wherever I go. Its ubiquity and variety means that it acts as a universal language, describing our histories, traditions and cultural inheritance. I have also met remarkable practitioners who are designing embroidery for fashion, experimenting with techniques, using extraordinary alternative materials like wood and metal, making sculptures and using new technologies. It is hard to categorise embroidery since it is so diverse in its material form and in the processes and way it is used. Recently I was in Pakistan working with women embroiderers, we could not speak to each other except through the medium of stitch. They animatedly showed me complex techniques and cloths densely covered with intricate stitched drawings and decoration. I have seen how embroidery is used to bring communities together as a means of being social. I have seen how the new generation of embroiderers are discovering new forms of stitching, reworking traditional techniques and making it their own. I believe there is a return to making, and an appetite to work with materials. This period of lockdown has demonstrated the power and agency of embroidery as a portable and accessible creative practice. All kinds of stitching projects have brought people together and developed individual skills and knowledge through being at home with time to stitch. The accessibility of multiple platforms for learning and exchanging knowledge has created a dynamic forum of activity. I believe that the future of embroidery is rich and fertile since by its nature it is varied and adaptable. It engages with important issues of our time, well-being, globalization, the environment and culture. The future of embroidery is to go forward, to reinvent itself constantly through the passion and critique of its makers. The future of embroidery is also to look back and around, to recover and celebrate the richness of the past and encounter the activities of those around us. I am particularly interested in demonstrating its relevance to the next generation and connecting through embroidery with the rich diversity of its practice and practitioners.

With that in mind Embroidery magazine keeps us all up to date and is the go-to place for everyone interested in the subject. My collection of magazines has remained one of the most important references that I have on my shelves. It has disseminated embroidery internationally of benefit to all who read it and makers who are featured. The magazine must hold an essential place in the future of embroidery.

- Alice Kettle 2020