AnneLawsonArt My art work

Winter textile work

When I create a post I write, add photos, edit and then press ‘publish’. Most of the writing has happened in my head, so I am usually happy with what I write. This post has been different; this is the third or fourth go. The post is about ‘where to next’ with my fabric art work, and as I wrote I learnt more about where I am going. Let me be more concrete…..

This is how I began, and I am satisfied with it as it is mostly straight forward.

In my last newsletter I was musing about the textile work I do in Winter. I try to keep that story telling part of the newsletter shortish, so I want to use this blog to work through some of the things I am thinking about.

I have always loved hand sewing. My early creative career as a bag maker was begun as a way to use the embroidery I was creating. Embroidery has run parallel to my painting, but since my return a couple of years ago from my artist in residency at Mountain Seas Resort on Flinders Island I have been more conscious about creating. Slowly I have been thinking more about where I want this to go. I will return to this in a moment, but let me show you what I am talking about.

There are two sorts of embroidery I am doing. One is on tapestry canvas. I have found beautiful merino wool from Fibreworks; it is the right weight for the work I am doing and Gill dyes the wool to create colours of the Australian bush. Perfect weight, perfect variegated colours. I use my photos for inspiration, set up some compositional guidelines and then sit on the couch, in the warmth and sew. You can read a tapestry post  here.

This is the sort of work I have been creating, works inspired by Flinders Island

and this from last year’s trip to Menindee


This is my current work-in-progress, again inspired by the arid, salt-bush environment of Menindee. I think is much better than the earlier one.


Then came this section, which is a second or third draft. What I wrote made me consider the options I had.

Which brings me to my deeper musings…..what am I going to do with these?  I have written a few drafts about this, and that process has helped resolve the question. I was going to ask “Should I do this [put them in my Etsy shop] or should I do that [exhibit them]”. Thinking it through has made me realise that I want to exhibit them.

Using the E-word (Exhibit) in public is a big one for me. I find it difficult to approach someone to say “My work is so good that you should exhibit it”. There is the risk of rejection, and there is fear of Pride. There is the inner voice telling me I am not ready yet, that I don’t have time, to wait until I have done bigger pieces. You know the reasons, as I am sure we all have that voice which tells similar excuses.

However, there is a council-run gallery that has applications to exhibit in one of their spaces, and that must be the Universe telling me to stop procrastinating and just do it. That universe is made up of everyone I know yelling out to me “Do It Anne!!!!”. I can hear you from here! So, yes, I will.

Which is where I stopped. Something wasn’t right. Then the Universe came up with a weekly newsletter from Sara Genn. This week she was responding to a query about being ready for exhibiting. Her advice shows that you can’t rely on the Universe for any meaningful guide to the way forward, as it was this section that resonated:

Have you got a few hundred paintings?
Select from this year’s production your best 20. If you haven’t got an embarrassment of riches to choose from, go back to your room and paint. Your shortlist should be thematic but varied in ideation and show an evolution of imagination, technique and skill.

That’s what is missing, my body of work. It’s not my inner critic saying “You’re not ready”, it is this true statement ~ I am not ready.

So, now to create those few hundred works…… Realistically that number is not going to happen. However I do need to have a body of work that I can show a gallery, rather than an idea backed up by one or two pieces.

I am (almost) ready to press ‘publish’ for this post and then go back to my creating. But just before I do…..I mentioned above that I am creating two sorts of fabric work, and I only showed you the tapestry-style ones. The others use stitching, organza and other fabric to make trees (no surprise there!). You can see them on my Instagram feed.

Have you had any experience with exhibiting, or preparing a folio? I’d love other from you.


Would you like to keep up-to-date with my art work ~ textile work or watercolour works on paper? Let me send you my fortnightly newsletter.

20 replies on “Winter textile work”

Your thought processes resonate with me, and I have just read the whole of Sara’s post and advice. I think it is spot on. Sometimes it is difficult to remember exhibiting is about the BODY of work, and that not everything we do is exhibitable, but all pieces we do should teach us something, and lead us to the next. I recently saw an exhibition by an artist I know – it was enormous, well over a hundred paintings. There were some very good works, but some that should not have seen the light of day. If she had had a more critical eye, or a friend with one, she would have had a much smaller exhibition, and it would have been excellent rather than mixed. I exhibit with groups, and have had 3 small-group exhibitions, with between two and four others and would like to have another, but need to find a compatible friend. The thought also that not everything needs to be exhibited is quite liberating too, it leaves room for experimentation, and disappearing down the odd rabbit hole! I like your tapestries very much, and yes, they should be exhibited! Good luck!

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What you say Anna confirms that I am on the right track. Thank you! And thank you too for your support that they should be exhibited. The exhibition you went to is a good example of what Sara was saying, and a reminder that not everything is worthy of exhibition. (Have you come across the Genn letters before? They are good reading.) You are right to say that all our pieces should teach us something and lead us to the next. Again it’s the reminder that it is the artistic process that is important, and if something is worthy of exhibition that’s a bonus.
i hope you are able to find someone to exhibit with.


Well, that’s something that I had never thought of! My immediate response is a Black Hat one, and all I see are reasons not to. However, I will let it simmer away on the back burner…..That three of you wonderful readers have been enthusiastic about it means it needs to be considered. Thank you.


I’m afraid I have no experience to offer you but I understand how truly intimidating it would be! I have just approached a local craft shop about conducting classes, and they have said yes! I really should have stopped my mouth from moving!
Your tapestry is lovely. I struggled with my canvaswork but it’s great seeing your ease and style with this.
Good luck!


I remember your canvas work ~ it was lovely, very atmospheric. My ease comes from the free form nature of my work; I just play around with stitches, whereas you had to be much more disciplined to fulfil the course requirements.
I think it’s fantastic that you will be doing the classes. Go you! And teaching is a great way to consolidate your own learning.


Anne, ignore the voice of doubt and heed your own internal voice of reason. Your work is eminently worthy of being exhibited, and the fact that you need to curate a bit is not a reason to hesitate. In terms of a body of work, just a few stitched pieces isn’t enough to exhibit, but is there any reason you can’t go mixed media? To me it speaks more eloquently of a deeper exploration of colour, theme and getting at the essence of what it is you’re interested in. Pencil sketches, pen and ink, paint and oil pastel on the same theme and subject could all be shown as part of this progression and exploration.


A body of work that includes the various expressions is a good idea. I have been musing about pulling the different media together, but you have expressed it much better as ‘a deeper exploration of colour theme and getting at the essence of what you are interested in’. There is so much connection between my different works that it makes so much sense to include it as whole body of work. Thanks for helping me sort through some of the ideas that are floating around in my head.


Sometimes you just have to be outside the issue to see it more clearly! I’m glad it’s helped to crystallise your ideas somewhat.
BTW, I’ll be making a start on Viv’s poetry piece for the Sketchbook next week, now that I can breathe through my nose again and am not sneezing over everything!


I’m late to this discussion but I couldn’t agree with Kate more. I think you could do a lot to improve the perception of needled art in the larger art world by exhibiting your canvas work alongside your sketches/paintings. It would expand the viewer’s concept of what art is or can be and possibly inspire others to look more favorably on their own efforts at personal expression.

I do a lot of journaling on paper to sort out my creative dilemmas. I think you’re brave to share your inner process with the rest of us this way. 🙂


I really appreciate your thoughts, Sue. It is an idea that is definitely worth thinking about. One medium would add extra dimensions to the others when they are displayed together.

As for brave….I thank you for the compliment. However, it really came about as I was writing, as I was trying to explain it to you. Writing about one plan or aspect forced me to think that through, and I realised that it wasn’t quite right. Then I would start writing about the next stage, only to realise that those plans were right either. If it had stayed as an internal discussion I would have glossed over the aspects that were really puzzling me.


Do you have a textile related organisation – you could tap into – some have regular exhibits at shows, halls and do forth. Many also have conference/festivals on an annual basis where you put work in for selection – it would show you that you need to have deadlines, finishing and all that guff.

Or is there any national competition on the offering. Recently the Parkin Drawing prize here in New Zealand was awarded and a controversial one to boot…certainly not what I assumed “drawing was” so you might find a way in, if the criteria can be met.

sometimes you can link into say something like “wool month” and ask your local librarry/other if they have a display case…

Or you could just submit to a gallery to exhibit next year or similar time frame – bite the bullet and make enough pieces to fit in – be it the tapestry and paintings…


There are some great suggestions here, Cathy. It is worth going through textile organisations, because textile art is rather a poor relation in the Art World. The organisations know to take the medium seriously.
I will have to search The Parkin Drawing Prize, as I am intrigued to know what the controversy was.


Just done the search, and I can see why there was discussion about it. Not sure that I would consider it drawing, but then it is hard to judge these things from a photo. And it is obviously a work that is part of Kirsty Lillico’s artistic journey, so it may be more understandable in the light of her earlier work.

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on my art school student f/b page – much discussion – including “let’s all do something radical for it next time” – including “who needs a pencil” or similar discussion. I had never imagined with my wonky hands, that I could get anywhere with it – but slashing up carpet seems very doable now 🙂


Anne, I really enjoyed this post. From where I sit, your abilities are extraordinary. As you say, we all have the inner voice. I’m glad you’ve shared your thought process and the details of your work. I’m amazed at the way you can create the nuances of landscape, trees, etc. with tapestry and thread. How wonderful that you’ve found a source with dyed wool that suits your landscape. I’m also pleased that you’ve asked your questions and found your answers. Isn’t that so often the way? We stumble upon just what we need as we need it, or conversely we’re open to finding what we need. Either way, I hope you’re enjoying your process. I hope one day you’ll share one of your purses in a post.


Firstly Ann, I love the way the tapestries have developed. Seeing the details of progress on IG really doesn’t do justice to the big picture. You’ve captured the colours and shapes of the Australia bush perfectly. Every word you’ve written about showing your work resonates with me. Self doubt holds so many creatives in a straight jacket. I am no exception. Add gender and age and the straps are tightened further. Your work should be shown but sadly I have no suggestions about how you achieve that end. I wish you luck strength and determination


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