Surrey town embroideries 'show textile revival'

The Guildford Embroidery
Image caption Rhoda Nevins came up with the idea for the Guildford project after being inspired by the embroidery in Sunbury

Two large-scale embroideries of Surrey towns are the result of a textile revival over the past decade, a needlework enthusiast has said.

Twenty-five people in Guildford have spent four years creating a picture of the town using applique and embroidery.

They were inspired by a similar project completed by 140 people in Sunbury, which now draws visitors to the town.

In both cases, the town depictions were created from smaller pieces of work that people took away to craft at home.

The Sunbury Millennium Embroidery was completed in time for the Millennium.

Image caption An embroidery was created by 140 people in Sunbury for the millennium

It remains on show in the town and the 51ft (15.65m) by 3.2ft (1m) embroidery has since become the centrepiece of a museum and gallery.

Barbara Robertson, gallery administrator, said: "There is a revival in textiles. In the past 10 years, it has gradually been coming up and up."

She said she used to organise art exhibitions and textiles was always "an outsider" until recently.

"And of course there's the television programme [Great British Sewing Bee]," she added.

"There is very much a resurgence of interest. It has always been there, but has gradually built up."

Royal wedding

Rhoda Nevins, who organised The Guildford Embroidery project, said the 25 people who worked on it met every month and would take away a small section of the picture to work on which, when completed, was cut out and stitched into the overall embroidery.

Image caption Buildings were sewn on to the fabric and the gaps were filled in with landscapes, trees and flowers

The embroidery, which measures 49in (1.2m) by 90in (2.2m), was so large that one person had to stand over the fabric to push the needle down through the material, and another person had to sit on cushions under the fabric to push the needle back up.

Ms Nevins, who trained at the Royal School of Needlework and whose high-profile projects include working on embroidery for the Duchess of Cambridge's wedding dress, said her project was inspired by the artwork at Sunbury.

She said: "A friend sent a postcard depicting the Millennium embroidery at Sunbury and the idea of doing an embroidery of the Guildford skyline came to me. It was my lightbulb moment."

The Guildford Embroidery shows the town's prominent buildings and high street, with the cathedral at the top and the River Wey at the bottom.

It also includes a section showing herself and her late husband as former Guildford mayor and mayoress, taking part in a procession.

It is now on display at the G Live venue.

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