July 15th 2017 – South East Regional Day

For those of you who didn’t make the South East Regional Day at Ardingly here are some photographs of our branch showcase. It all went very well and we had lots of lovely comments as well as lots of people reminiscing about Clothkits dungarees!

DSC04529a

 

With thanks to the SE Regional Committee for a great day!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

July 2017 – Alison Hulme, My Life in Stitch

The July meeting’s morning session was a good natured affair with members old and new, stitching and chatting together, catching up on things and clearly having a good time!

The afternoon speaker, Alison Hulme began with the words “My name is Alison and I’m an alcoholic …………………” a tremendous opener to what proved to be a very moving and highly entertaining account of how Alison turned her life around through stitch (and with a little help from her brave husband who became  a life model for her final degree piece!)

If you weren’t at the meeting then you missed a treat – find out where she is speaking next and make sure you’re there. See Alison’s blog 

There is a workshop being run by Alison today (Tuesday 11th July – I will bring you photographs as soon as I can)

STOP PRESS: PHOTOS FROM THE WORKSHOP

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

The afternoon concluded with the announcement of the President’s Competition results. There were 8 entries – all were of such a high standard (both in terms of design and workmanship) that it was a very difficult voting decision for many of us. The pool of talent in our branch never ceases to amaze and humble me. The winner was Christine Tebbitt, Congratulations! All of the entires are going on to the competition at the Regional AGM – so I will save the photographs until after that has been judged, watch this space!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

June 2017 Alice Steer – spinning a yarn weaving a story

The June meeting started with a morning stitching session where members worked on their own projects and chatted happily.

The lucky people who had attended the workshop with Jean Littlejohn last month brought in their work for us to look at  – what a wonderful set of results!

 

The speaker at 2pm was Janet Steer, with a talk entitled “spinning a yarn weaving a story”.

QWfD9ydyTceHslNbbmA_thumb_18d9

Janet came to textiles relatively late in life after a career in medicine and anatomy. She acquired the “bug” and completed parts 1 & 2 of her City & Guilds followed by a degree in Stitched Textiles at Eastleigh College.

She described how she arrived at her final degree piece and beyond, showing us the influences which ranged from her microscope slides and the fibonacci series, to the art of the Dada-ists, Alighiero Boetti, the theory of chance,  the sculpture of Peter Randall Page and her love of landscape and long mountain walks.

Making fabric by spinning paper (in particular maps) and then making meaningful (or by chance) linear embroidered lines has produced a spectacular body of unique and interesting work. For us, it was a pleasure to listen to Janet’s “journey” and understand the thought processes and see the development of her work.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

May 2017 Jean Littlejohn

The May meeting was particularly popular (attributed mainly to the lure of being able to listen to half of the Embroiderers’ Guild President )

The early birds were not disappointed – the morning session was given over to a superb talk by our member, Susie Luke, and Lesley Parker from the Weald & Downland Living Museum. At the museum there has been a (mainly volunteer staffed) sewing team creating authentic costumes for the stewards to wear. “Authentic” is the key word here, as we listened to the level of detail  that goes into creating the costumes it soon became clear that this was a project that was meticulous in its approach and therefore incredibly successful in its results. Lesley passed round examples mainly from the Tudor and Victorian clothing collections and we were all just full of admiration; the inkle loom woven braids, the cartridge pleating, the beauty and simplicity of the linen shifts, the cut of the School Mistress’ jacket… and the list goes on. It was a fascinating talk, much enjoyed by us all. For those of you who missed it, Lesley is booked to come to a meeting next year and talk to us about Georgian clothing, & I for one can’t wait!

ALL SEWN UP: The afternoon session started with a presentation of a cheque to the hospice team in charge of the Dream Building project (the appeal to raise funds for the new hospice building). Avid readers of this web-site will know that we were set a challenge in January by our speaker, Kay Mawer from Clothkits, to buy a bag of scrap materials and turn it into something saleable. The challenge became a reality and many of our members, with a great deal of ingenuity and talent, created a plethora of items to sell. The final total raised by us was a staggering £1325 – A BIG THANK YOU to EVERYONE involved (especially Sue Clarke and Kay Mawer without whom this project would not have got off the ground)

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_17c7

At the cheque presentation: from left to right, Sue Clarke (Chichester Embroiderers’ Guild), Kay Mawer (Clothkits), Chloe Neilson-Hopkins and Sarah Tuhey (both from the Dreambuilding Project)

We then settled down for the star attraction – Jean Littlejohn – who needs little introduction, a very renowned embroiderer, half of the Double Trouble team, and co- President of the Embroiderers’ Guild. (Between Jan Beaney and herself they account for over 85 years of joint membership of the Guild!)

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_17e5

Jean being welcomed by Susan, our Chairman – not sure why they didn’t smile, perhaps it was something I said!!

Jean gave a fascinating talk about her work and her approach to design. Her advice to us included:  don’t ever start a piece of work without deciding what you are going to do, and what you want to achieve. How to do it ? Well that follows naturally from knowing what you want to do! Also don’t make the mistake of not sampling – you can’t expect to produce a masterpiece first time, there  will need to be a lot of trial and effort. Jean likes to have a noticeboard in her studio where she just pins photographs of all the things she likes and looks at them, becomes familiar with them and then there’s drawing and sketchbooks to explore recurring themes.

It was a very illuminating afternoon, not least because we were bedazzled by Jean’s beautiful work, she had many sketchbooks and pieces of work with her which we all happily examined and discussed at the end of the afternoon.

Some lucky members were picked in the ballot for her (over-subscribed) workshop the following day. Below are the initial photos of the lucky ones at work – they have reported that they had an hilarious and productive day. I hope to bring you more evidence of that next month………… as ever, watch this space!

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

All Sewn up on Saturday 29th April

Thank you to everyone who helped with the All sewn up sale on Saturday: volunteers on the day, enthusiastic members who made such wonderful and inventive gifts to sell, Kay at Clothkits for setting the challenge and being so supportive and generous, the team at St Wilfrid’s for all their support, and everyone else who contributed in so many ways.

We had a great day, we met lots of lovely people who were delighted by the talent of our members and enthusiastically bought items (some came back more than once!!).

We will be presenting  Chloe Neilson-Hopkins, the Capital Campaign Co ordinator  for the Dream Building project at the Hospice with a cheque at our May meeting. The figures have been totted up and the current total is £1,116.

It’s fantastic that we have used the talent within the branch to raise such a significant amount of money for the St Wilfrid’s Dream Building project. An especially big thank you to Sue Clarke (Chichester Embroiderers’ Guild) and Kay Mawer (Cloth kits) for making this happen.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

April 2017 – Textiles from Myanmar – Jennifer Hughes

The morning session was a fabulous workshop run by two of the members on the delights and delicacies of Dorset buttons – truly inspiring, and so many variations that we were all just left with heads spinning and great plans of experimenting further. Hopefully I shall have some photos to show you next month.

The Speaker this month was Jennifer Hughes – who brought the results of many shopping trips in Burma, as it was then (Myanmar now!) to show us. The table at the front was piled high with textiles too gorgeous for Jennifer to resist, lots of woven silks which the locals make into tubes and tie at the waist as loose skirts. (I was planning a whole new summer wardrobe until Jennifer’s demonstration skirt descended slowly to her ankles!!)

Jennifer told us that it was only the soldiers in Myanmar that could wear trousers at one time, and otherwise men and women alike wore tube skirts – with variations in tie tops and knotting! Jennifer passed round laminated sheets of her photographs taken at the time to further illustrate what she was saying. Her talk also included showing us hangings, monastic woven manuscript ribbons, a puppet and some vessels.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reports from the National AGM

Here are the reports issued after the National AGM in Edinburgh.

There are four reports to read:-

  1. Finance Report
  2. Trustees’ Report
  3. Artistic Director’s Report
  4. Report of the Artistic Director for Young & Student Embroiderers

NB I have headlined each report in a red title to make it easy for those of you who wish to quickly scroll down to reach a particular report. Happy Reading!!

Finance Report to AGM 2017

Presented by CEO – Terry Murphy at the invitation of the Trustees

This report covers the financial position of the regions and branches, the Guild Head Office and the trading company, Embroiderers’ Guild Enterprises Limited…. EGE Ltd. This report goes on to inform you about the financial health of the Guild and the compelling need to change what we do and how we do it.

Income for the whole Guild (that is, the Regions, Branches and Head Office) in 2014/15 was £1 million, 536 thousand pounds.         .

This represents a decrease of £134 thousand pounds on the previous year 2014/15.

Expenditure for the whole Guild was £1 million, 633 thousand pounds, representing a £97 thousand pound deficit for the year.

Unrestricted reserves for the regions and branches stand at £743 thousand pounds. They represent a decrease of £13 thousand pounds on the previous year. Reserves for the regions and branches represent 45% of a year’s expenditure compared to 47% in 2014/15

Guild Head Office recorded a deficit of £173 thousand pounds. The deficit was mainly the result of…

  • Write back from a previous year on a legacy that produced less income than forecast (£20K)
  • Redundancy costs (£23K)
  • Insurance catch up for employees arising from an error by the insurers – (£6K)
  • Essential and unavoidable extra work on maintaining the database – (£19)
  • Net reduction beyond expectations in magazine income – (£44K)
  • Gift Aid no longer claimable – (£6K)
  • Expected deficit of (£34)

And our position was not helped by a reduction in income from donations and legacies of £100K

Thankfully, the outcome for the Guild Head Office in 2016/17 is expected to be a balanced budget.

However, this belies the fact that Guild as a whole needs to invest in its future. This is likely to cost at least £60 thousand pounds over the next 3 years; money that we urgently need to raise. We must invest in our on-line presence and in the facilities needed to attract a new generation of members. I would just add that everything we do in this respect will be of real value to our current membership.

Six years ago the Guild did not have a database. It had a website but it was in considerable need of investment. We were able to develop the database and new website substantially as a result of a donation from a single member. In common with all other organisations our database has required continual maintaining and upgrading and will do so for many years to come. This is new expenditure that taxes head Office resources in a climate of continually reducing income.

The trading performance of EGE Ltd is a cause for concern and, with it, the ultimate future of the Guild’s trading company. The market for niche interest magazines continues to decline and we see a number of new titles entering the market, often for only a few issues. The craft and knitting titles are dominating the shelf space. The cost of providing marketing support continues to increase each year, not least because WH Smith impose an arbitrary ‘marketing contribution’ each year. The figure for the current trading year is nearly £10 thousand pounds. Despite these factors, the directors of EGE Ltd have returned the company to profit in the last year, albeit a very modest profit.

This issue aside, the auditor’s report on EG and EGE Ltd was favourable throughout, with no significant issues to be addressed other than the concerns for EGE as a ‘going concern’.

As part of our response to the concerns and to assuring a future for our magazines we have taken the following marketing actions…

  • Introduced a new editorial policy for Stitch that takes account of what is on-trend for our target new readers.
  • Very recently, introduced a new design for Stitch.
  • Negotiated promotion slots with WH Smith that make the best use of the imposed marketing expenditure.
  • Extended the distribution of Stitch to larger WH Smith travel shops, to a retail chain in Ireland and to 80 Hobbycraft stores here in the UK. Later this year Stitch will be available in the larger hospital shops.
  • In the autumn we plan to introduce additional value for Stitch subscribers by extending the scope, information, ideas and advice to a digital supplement published on the Guild’s website.
  • Both magazines are available in digital format and we are selling these digital magazines via three agencies.
  • Both magazines now have new subscriber initiatives for people committing to pay by Direct Debit.
  • But Embroidery, in particular, needs all the help we can give it. The magazine gets a universal ‘thumbs up’ for its quality and content and yet its subscriber base continues to decline to the point where it may not be financially viable within a year. More on this in a direct appeal to be made later this year to members and subscribers.

At last year’s AGM we flagged the need for major cost savings after the failure to win the support of members for streamlining our administration systems and introducing new categories of membership. We also flagged that the likely cuts would result in a Head Office capacity that would struggle to meet the demands of member support.

Savings of £80 thousand pounds were needed and were identified. The costs of realising those changes was £40 thousand pounds. Those costs included redundancy payments of £23 thousand pounds and the costs of moving out of Kings Road and into Halton and Aylesbury amounted to a further £15 thousand pounds. The full year benefit will be in the budget year 2017/18. However, as Muriel stated in the trustees report, these cost savings have had a significant impact on our capacity at Head Office, made worse by an increasing need to develop and invest time and money in the Guild of the future.

During the course of this last year we have been researching the various Workplace Pension Schemes and have found a pensions partner appropriate to our needs and we are in the process of introducing the scheme to the staff.

But it is income generation that remains an elusive goal. There is one notable exception in our Distance Learning business that is going from strength to strength. We are hoping that members will respond well to the special Aurifil product offering that will be available later this year. Fund raising schemes tested with a small number of members and branches did not find favour. One of the trustee seats we failed to fill was reserved for a person from within the Guild or outside who had an interest and the necessary experience to help us raise funds. We have actively sought a trustee for this seat but without success.

However, the appeal, announced at the 2016 AGM, for the ‘Care of the Collection’ in the first two years at Bucks County Museum has resulted in contributions from 40 members, 35 of our 180 branches and 5 of our 10 regions. In total £25 thousand pounds including reclaimable gift aid has been raised to date. Many of the contributions from individual members and branches have been in the range – £200 to £2000. We much appreciate all contributions no matter what the amount. While time does not permit me to read out the names of all contributors, while we are in Edinburgh it would be wrong of me not to say a special thank you Scottish Region and to Aberdeen, Dundee, Dumfries, Galloway, and Stirling branches.

At the time of the Collection Appeal announcement last year one member, Louise Kroeze, immediately offered £1000 in prizes for regions devising the best fund raising schemes. Regrettably, we have to report that there were no applications for prize fund initiative. However, the trustees would like to take this opportunity to thank Louise for her immediate offer last year and to all who made donations in this last financial year.

I would now like to turn to other matters.

  • As a charity the Guild is a regulated body. This means we have to comply with the requirements of the Charity Commission. We have to put in place policies and practices that reduce risks and protect people. To some, perhaps many, this feels like needless bureaucracy but having been closely involved in policy writing and public reporting the real value of having these policies and practises becomes increasingly evident.
  • The recently published best practice policy relating to recording funds collected at meetings and events is an example of our needing to comply. 125 branches have confirmed that they have implemented the policy. The final figures will be sent on to the Charity Commission as part of the report they require on the loss of branch funds. While the policy raised some protests and practical difficulties it is inescapable that it protects treasurers from being in the position where they are the only ones to know how much money they have taken away from a branch meeting. Many consider this to be OK but, if someone challenges them or they find themselves in a potentially vulnerable position, our treasurers would be exposed to a distressing investigation if this policy was not being in place and implemented.
  • In 2014, to coincide with the simplification of branch accounts agreed with our auditors, we introduced a set of ‘Guild Books’. These make record keeping much easier. The final year-end balances are either generated automatically or are very straightforward to complete. Regrettably, 80 branches do not use the ‘Guild Books’ and the central Guild still receives a large number of inaccurate year-end returns, all of which have to be corrected before they can be included in the consolidated accounts. A total of 42 branches were assisted the 2015/16 year-end returns. This was hugely time-consuming for all concerned, in particular, the Guild accountant and book keeper and many branch treasurers.
  • The trustees would also like to remind members that the Guild’s policy on banking is to use Unity Trust Bank. Unity Trust affords the greatest protection against charitable funds being lost by any failures in the banking system or by inappropriate actions by individual banks. On the plus side Unity Bank has introduced a FREEPOST address for cheque deposits that removes the needs for treasurers to order pre-printed envelopes but the introduction of bank charges has annoyed many people. The charges relates in part to the number of transactions performed by the bank on behalf of the account holder.
  • The use of cheques remains very high. We appreciate that many treasurers do not wish to use the on-line facilities but the fact remains that we write an awful lot of cheques per year! This increases the bank charges for branches and for the central Guild. The membership renewals process is now spread over five months or more and involves some branches in writing 10 cheques or more for membership renewals, in many cases for individual renewal amounts. A few branches make payments on-line and only 600 members pay by direct debit. We will be publishing new guidelines and help for treasurers well in advance of the new financial year. Members probably do not want to hear this but the banks are determined to stop the use of cheques and will increase customer costs to force all of us to change.

We are working with Unity Bank to learn from the experiences of others and to try to identify ways to reduce the costs associated with the way all payments are made within the Guild.

We will also be upgrading and improving the insurance policy and premiums payment process in time for the new financial year. Incidentally, 10 branches have yet to pay their insurance premium for the year that started in September last year. The information will be sent to current treasurers in May to enable them to arrange for premium payments to be made the end of August. This will avoid incoming treasurers having to deal with this as soon as they come into the role. Our hope is that we will achieve premium reductions.

We have also issued guidelines on putting a value on pieces for insurance purposes. Members often place a high financial value on their work… and why not, they are proud it… but the insurance industry requires proof of value and a track record of similar pieces being sold for similar amounts. They do not just accept the value without proof or a clear rationale.

In conclusion, it is our hope is that we, members, regions, branches and central Guild can pull together to give stitch and textile art, a passion we all share, the bright future it deserves. This will require continual change and new investment in the future of the Guild.

Thank you.

 

**************************

Report to AGM 2017 on behalf of the Trustees

Delivered by Chair of the Board, Muriel Campbell

This report covers the year between AGM 2016 and AGM 2017.

This last year has been one of continued high activity, creating and building new partnerships, successful projects and implementing important constitutional changes. In addition, but on a more sombre note, the central Guild continues to struggle with declining income.

Up to this point I have used the same words as I did last year. This year I would add… this latter situation cannot continue and the need to change is becoming wholly inescapable. However, more of this point later.

Four themes characterise this last 12 months.

  • Governance and the focus on the charitable aims of the Guild
  • The achievements of the Guild in its commitment to deliver a public benefit
  • The demands on Head Office and its ability to meet those demands
  • Changes we have made and need to make in the near future

As you know the Guild is an educational charity.

It exists for the benefit of stitch and textile art and, equally importantly, its members derive benefit from being part of the process of nurturing, inspiring, educating and motivating fellow members and those who may become the future custodians of the skills and artistry of embroidery. We are the only organisation in the stitch community that aims to do these things. Stitch and textile art needs us.

Being a charity means the Guild enjoys a number of financial benefits and is immediately recognised by potential partners as an organisation with a clear focus and, therefore, has a potential contribution to make… i.e. being a registered charity is seen as ‘qualifying’ as a potential partner.

As a registered charity the Guild is also a regulated body and we have experienced an increasing degree of regulation and requirement to report publically on our organisation. You will see this in the comprehensive and far-reaching report by the trustees to be filed on the Charity Commission, Companies’ House and Guild websites at the end of this month.

Most members of the new board of trustees met for the first time in January 2016. Each trustee has specific responsibilities or a special interest in an aspect of the life and work of the Guild. Their focus since January 2016 has been on the factors that condition the success of the Guild today and what it will take to ensure it has a future, essentially its ability to connect with the next generation of stitchers.

Lesley Jones, trustee with special interest in regions and branches and currently Chair of Eastern Region, joined the board in June 2016.

Two trustees resigned, Gail Griffiths and Gill Drury, Chair of Finance. Gill had been a trustee for 6 years and had to resign due to heath and work pressures. Perhaps you would join me in thanking Gill for invaluable knowledge, experience and good counsel in all matters to related to the finances and charitable status of the Guild. You see from the most recent edition of Contact that we still have four seats to fill to complete the board. To date there have been no nominations or enquiries.

Those who read the communiques published after each board meeting will notice that the work of the trustees is concentrated on achieving the vision and aims of the Guild as agreed at the 2015 EGM and on the finances, risks, changes, challenges that are and will condition our ability to achieve the vision and aims. I am indebted to all my board colleagues for their valuable and increasing contributions to the governance and future success of the Guild.

I would now like to turn to the achievements of the last 12 months.

They are considerable and, in some aspects, break all records both those recorded in minutes and/or remembered by long-time Guild members. Three years ago we started to emphasise the need for the Guild (Head Office, Regions and Branches) to become more outward-facing. We are starting to see the results and benefits.

These include…

  • An outstandingly successful partnership with English Heritage, National Trust and Landscape institute celebrating the life and influence of Capability Brown. Over 2000 members mainly from 110 branches created pieces for the 46 exhibitions totalling 156 months held in mainly high footfall venues. As part of our contribution to the Capability Brown Festival we successfully pursued our objective of developing new partnerships with high footfall exhibition venues that could help us bring stitch and textile art to a new audience in far greater numbers than ever before.
  • Feedback from the exhibition venues indicate that many tens of thousands of people saw the exhibitions, many of whom were being introduced to textile art for the first time. This magnitude of exposure was also mirrored on the web and social media.
  • The White Walker, a lead character in the television series ‘A Game of Thrones’, broke the mould on how long it takes to create a major piece of work. Not only was it 18 feet long and 12 feet high, it was completed in less than three months. The White Walker has been creating sensations and drawing huge audiences, including many thousands of young people, in 7 exhibition venues around the UK. There is no rest for the ‘wicked’, sorry for unofficial assessment of the White Walker’s character… but the piece will be exhibited in two further venues in April and May of this year culminating in 6 months of exhibitions.
  • The real significance of these two projects and prior to these, Magna Carta, the Big Stitch, the Postcards and the World’s Longest Embroidery, is that they introduced the Guild (and with it stitch and textile art) to national and international organisations who came to see that the Guild was relevant to them, could make a significant difference and contribute to them achieving their aims and objectives.
  • Our relevance and ability to make a difference was quickly recognised by Aurifil when I approached them to become sponsors. The dialogue was not about ‘if’ but was wholly focused on ‘what’ we would do together. The programme has started with prizes for regional days and will go on to significant support for Stitch magazine later in the year.
  • We may have proved that we are ‘relevant’ and can ‘make a difference’ to these sponsors and exhibition partners but one swallow does not make a summer. These projects are just the start of a programme that must continue and grow over the next 5 to 10 years and beyond if the Guild is going to attract a new and younger membership and new sponsors and supporters. In the coming months we will be announcing a series of events and opportunities for members and branches that will extend through to 2021.
  • I would just make one point for which I offer no apology. Members continue to ask… ‘what the Guild does, and in brackets, what does it do for me’? Well here is a clear answer.

It creates opportunities for its members and branches to see their work exhibited and celebrated by huge and diverse audiences… opportunities highly unlikely to be open to independent stitch groups or, indeed, many individual stitchers, however accomplished they may be. These are examples of the Guild working to achieve its commitment to delivering its charitable aims and delivering a very real benefit to its members at the same time.

  • I would now like to move on to look more inwards into our organisation and how it functions.
  • Can I start by welcoming 3 new branches… Hinckley, Uttoxeter and, most recently, Sheppey. We wish you every success.
  • You all know that we moved out of our excellent offices and gallery in Walton on Thames and accepted the proposal from Bucks County Museum Trust to relocate in entirety to their museum and resource centre. The move is complete and will result in substantial, long term cost-savings but the ramifications are still making huge demands on the CEO and staff. These were not helped by having to move at a time of peak workload and losing three long serving and experienced staff members in quick succession. This related to one planned redundancy, two elected redundancies and the loss of 20 hours a week of volunteer time in the office plus the loss of 17 volunteers who worked on the collection, folios, library and other activities. The workload related to concurrent demands of 7700 membership renewals, 185 insurance premiums and the audit and year end reporting for 2015/16…. and….. all the requests for help, complaints and demands for explanations that go with these activities.
  • The new office is variously between 50 and 90 miles away from the homes of the CEO and staff. This has entailed adopting new ways of working and changes in each person’s domestic situation to accommodate the Guild. I have worked closely with the staff throughout this period and can report that, to a person, they have all pulled together to support each other and deliver the best service possible to members. I am not sure they are always appreciated.
  • I referred earlier to the ‘what does the Guild do (for me) question. The other assertion/question is that the Head Office is too expensive and does very little… (for us). Members may be surprised to learn the facts. The CEO and four full-time equivalent members of staff do or support all the things listed in the last two editions of Contacta total of 35 activities in the life and work of the Guild and, on top of this, respond to over 10,000 requests and subsequent queries received each year from members, branches and regions and, in the year of this report, devoted an additional 230 days to member and branch projects. 230 days is approximately equal to one-person’s working year.
  • But the staff don’t do everything.
  • In common with all charities the Guild relies heavily on volunteers in order function on a day-to-day basis. Many members of branches and regions volunteer to a greater or lesser extent but all make an essential contribution. Without them the regions and branches could not function. In addition, new volunteers are being sought at Aylesbury and the Bucks County Resource Centre and I can report that all the current trustees give generously of their time both as trustees and as active members of the Guild.
  • I would like to record our thanks and appreciation of all that members do wherever it may be.
  • But this note of thanks also brings me to my final theme for this report… the changes we need to make for our future.
  • The Guild owes a duty of care to its staff, adult volunteers and young people. I regret to have to report that there have been a number of instances of volunteers in regions and branches disagreeing, dominating, judging, blaming, arguing, accusing, shouting down and even fighting in public. All instances were hugely distressing and, in one instance, led to a member sending solicitor’s letters to other members and, by implication, the branch and Guild. Maybe this is a sign of the times.
  • These experiences and the compliance requirements of the Charity Commission and best practice advice from the NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations) have prompted us to update our policy on ‘Safeguarding Young People’ and, in the next few months, introduce a policy on ‘Safeguarding Adults’. The trustees noted that many organisations have formal agreements with their volunteers and, indeed, take up references before accepting the services of each new volunteer. The Regional Chairs have recently signed a code of expected conduct and will be considering how we best give credit and protect all who volunteer their services to the Guild.
  • I would like to end on a note that spans the year of this report and the immediate future years. It has been apparent for some time that the Guild must address its future. It cannot go relying on a, dare I say it, aging membership and a heavy reliance on members attending branch meetings to get the best from their membership. For the most part a new generation of members will want to be able to access the Guild whenever they want, wherever they are, in whatever way suits them. This implies we have to develop a new membership model for the Guild. In effect, we will have two Guilds to run and support at the same time…… the one we have now including the increasing difficulties being experienced by branches and the one we must create for the future.
  • This will require investment, creativity, social media knowledge and other web-based skills. It will also mean that we have to relook again at the ways we currently do things in order to minimise the administrative workload and create the staff and volunteer time needed to make the new future a reality. The clock is ticking. There will be more on this theme over the coming months. For now, I must end and thank you for your attention and support in being here today.

 

**************************

Artistic Director’s Report 

I have been Artistic Director for just over a year now and as many of you know I have been involved in the EG for most of my life. This new responsibility has given me the remit to look at what we need to do quite differently.

Apart from being a membership organisation we are an educational charity, focused on encouraging creativity for people of all ages and safeguarding our heritage for future generations

Membership is declining.

If we continue to focus on the same pool of interested people we will no longer have a continuous supply of qualified C & G graduates to swell the ranks and the numbers of interested young people will reduce as and when the results of the new national curriculum bite in a few years’ time

We need to expose ourselves to a new market. We need to fill the gap resulting from an aging membership, a lack of City & Guilds entrants to the guild and the expectations of the digital age.

We need to keep embroidery alive.

This is our new responsibility. Branches need to do what they do now catering for the needs of their members but the central EG must become more visionary, more proactive, more exciting and more 21c!!!!!…. bringing the subject to a new clientele. Our message on stitch must inspire new interest and energy.

But it needs your support…

Active participation and, from time to time, help with funding. At the time you joined your branches you all inherited the resources generated by the members that gone before you. Now it is your turn/our turn to do the same for future members, albeit they may want different things.

Of course our move to Bucks County Museum and our working with them over the next few years will inspire new interest and confidence in what we do

Liz Smith, Annette Collinge and myself along with a strong volunteer team have worked hard to move the collection and the library into museum-standard stores at Halton.

The White Walker Prince of Darkness will go on display on 17th May.

Our inaugural exhibition in three galleries at Bucks County Museum in July 2017 will be followed by the opening of our own gallery early in 2018. We are also hoping this will coincide with the launch of two Search Press books on aspects of the collection

In my first year as Artistic Director I have been fortunate enough to be invited by the Guild to project manage two high profile pieces of embroidery.

I invited three other embroidery organisations, the RSN, Fine Cell and Hand & Lock, to bring their particular expertise and support.

Advocacy is always more powerful when accompanied by strength in numbers!!!!!!

And the Game of Thrones project came to us via our recent record of designing and leading the development of another major piece – Magna Carta, an Embroidery… an idea by situational artist, Cornelia Parker.

Our reputation was starting to go before us. We were shortlisted for one of the Sky South Bank creative award last year.

As a result of this the producer of the Game of Thrones seeing the Magna Carta-an Embroidery I was asked to project manage an embroidered panel based on a screen shot from Series 5 depicting the prince of darkness the White Walker… 6m x 4m in two months.

EG branch and individual members hand embroidered the 80 family crest roundels in the frame and I thought it would be really cool if the White Walker who was walking through the hard home battle field followed by his army of zombie-like creatures, could be made in stump work. The RSN BA Hons embroidery students offered to construct and embellish him with help from EG members making the pendant and arms. A fellow embroiderer and I made the head with an icicle crown helped by the national theatre puppeteer. I think we can safely say he is the largest piece if stumpwork in the world

The project has been a huge success and redefined the idea of embroidery in the minds of a much wider audience. Particularly as I went on BBC news @1 and 6 and we achieved over 500,000 hits on social media.

The more publicity the better.

We have also been exhibiting EG members embroidery inspired by the work of Capability Brown at 46 mainly high footfall venues across the country. Thanks to Alex Messenger and Amanda Smith for all their vision and hard work.

As Artistic Director of the Guild I have also been working with the Riverside Gallery in Walton-on-Thames, helping them with their exhibitions in particular their World War 1 commemoration.

Am working with a group of artists and crafts people on a project embedded in the Elephant and Castle.

I am of course still very involved in the Beryl Dean Award for ‘Excellence in Embroidery Teaching’.

I am involved in organising the Knitting and Stitching Show in Ally Pally and Harrogate where we are trying to develop a bigger presence each year. We were particularly successful in 2016 with the Guild pavilion, the CB exhibition and the White Walker. In Harrogate we agreed to take a previously unused space that gave us enormous scope to present the Guild but represented a risk that the traffic flow would not work in our favour. I am pleased to be able to report that it was a total success.

While it can be argued that, in the last 18 months, more people have been exposed to the skills and artistry of embroidery than at any time in the Guild’s history.

The Embroiderers’ Guild is an education charity….

An organisation that is passionate about passing the art of embroidery on to the next generation. We are increasingly and deeply concerned about the steady erosion of textile and creative education across the board

The new national curriculum relegates creative and practical subjects to after school classes. There will be no ‘A’ level. Options as a result students will not be at the right level to choose or cope with higher education in the arts and they will not know about all the exciting creative options open to them in the world of work and recreation. This not a balanced provision for life.

  • Deeply concerned about the steady erosion of textile and creative education
  • Nat Curriculum rigidity – little opportunity for children to express themselves
  • Creativity is vital to a child’s development
  • Creative thinkers hold the key to the UK’s future – arts and industry
  • Children need to qualify in creative subjects as well as sciences etc
  • Creative subjects relegated to after-school activities – hobbies & pastimes
  • Signals a ‘death knell’

I am afraid the situation is bleak.

The public are only just waking up to the fact that their young ones will not be exposed to the creative arts.

The Embroiderers’ Guild, indeed the whole stitch community, needs to do something now to make the government think about what they are doing.

I wanted to take this opportunity to put you in the picture regarding the current state of play in our special world, the world that all here have benefitted from.

The campaign for creativity is a petition to do just that. The Knitting and Stitching Shows have taken up the baton, supported by creative practitioners.

The UK has a world- leading reputation for creativity, the creative industries contribute £84.1 To the UK economy and employ 1.8m people. In the light of ‘Brexit’ it will become increasingly important to maintain and increase this in the future.

Please go on line the Knitting and Stitching Show and show your support by signing the petition.

At the shows this year there will be an opportunity to embroider your signature on a textile petition. If we get 100.000 signatures we will be taking it personally to Downing Street.

If you can’t get to the shows please…

Embroider your signature on a small piece of fabric

and send it to Helen Marriott at Upper Street Events.

However, the artistic future of the Guild is rosy.

We are about to invite members to take part in a very special exhibition to be seen first at the Knitting & Stitching Shows later this year. The title is ‘Page 17’ – an interpretation of a book.

We are in talks with an armed forces charity to create thousands of hearts that tell personal and family stories of the first world warm. All members who wish to take part will be welcome to do so. More on this within two months.

We are also in talks with Guilds around the world to make those special connections that are only open to organisations such as ourselves. We hope make an announcement later this year.

These projects or concepts are part of our 5-year plan to raise the public awareness of stitch and textile art and with it, the profile of the guild and its members.

Our long term planning includes another major partnership with a trust commemorating one of the most significant sea voyages in the last 500 years. The project is likely to be international and on an even greater scale than we achieved with Capability Brown.

We will be announcing details at the next AGM in 2018.

 

Thank you

**************************

ARTISTIC DIRECTOR Young & Student Embroiderers

Report to Guild AGM 2017

NOTE: When, at the EGM 2015, this post and that of the Artistic Director, was approved by members the trustees undertook that the post holders would report directly to members at each AGM. This is the first of these reports. The report by the Artistic Director is in a separate document.

I now hold the daunting position of being the first Artistic Director for Young and Student Embroiderers. I applied to be a Trustee and take on this particular role because I believe in what the Guild is doing and what it wants to achieve for the future.

I feel for certain that part of that future lies with a new generation of members who we can introduce to the joys of creative textiles in all its forms, and create an interest that will stay with them throughout their school/education years and into adulthood.

The Guild aims to be recognised and valued by all who are attracted to embroidery, stitch and textiles – whether they are experienced or a complete beginner. What better place to start building that recognition, and kindling an interest, than with spontaneous, creative and open minded young would-be embroiderers.

YE leaders and their teams do a great job and their instruction and help, often on a one-to-one basis, is invaluable. They are encouraging a younger generation and I have been listening to their experiences and providing support and inspiration wherever needed.

Sadly, schools are now pushing the subject of creative textiles out into the cold – I want to help keep it alive, whether that is as a “hobby”, or back within the educational environment.

I see the initiative to create the World’s Longest Embroidery for Schools as an informal introduction to schools and the basis for a dialogue that may lead to more formal support for teachers within the curriculum and in running after-school clubs. After a slow start we are well into the pilot scheme, one that will inform us as to how best to engage with our ultimate target of 1000 schools in the next 5 years.

Our aim for young people as stated and approved by members at the EGM in June 2015 was stated as… Young & Student Stitchers should be included automatically in all the activities of the Guild including at regional and branch levels. In addition, there will be a separate programme for introducing or furthering interest in young and student embroiderers whether members of Guild groups, other educationally based groups or clubs or as visitors to events and exhibition venues.

Our aim is to connect with 3000 young and student embroiderers each year from 2017 rising to 5000 by 2020. We made a start with the opportunities we sought for young people as part of the activities surrounding the Capability Brown exhibitions.

In another pilot scheme I am engaging with YE members via ‘Talking Pages’.

We are grateful to the family of Gilda Baron for their generous bursary for 16 to 18-year old students to explore whether studying textiles is the path for them. The funding from the family is sufficient to enable up to 4 students to spend a day with an experienced textile artist.

I would like to see if we can engage with younger people in more ways – perhaps using social media to spark their interest and then build on that. I also want to see a higher profile for the YE movement – perhaps by creating YE only projects that they can participate in, or encouraging them to join in with Guild wide projects like Capability Brown. Perhaps there could be more sharing between groups or individuals by adapting the idea of Travelling Books.

I am aware that leaders and their helpers already give a great deal of time and commitment (not to mention loft storage space!) to YE so we need to find ways of achieving our aims without increasing the burden on them. Maybe we can work with other groups that are already geared up to work with younger people (after-school clubs or the Brownies for example). I’d be very happy to hear from anyone with experience of doing this. In the next 12 months we will be looking for a national partner to co-host a nationwide event.

Watch this space!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment