Introduction

www.drawnground.co.uk -drawn ground‘ – a technique often found in the folk embroidery of Russia and Ukraine, where threads are withdrawn from linen…

I trained as an embroiderer and designer in the 1980s, then taught embroidery in adult education and worked as an administrator for the Embroiderers’ Guild, then based at Hampton Court Palace.

In 1987 I accompanied my husband Robert on a 6-month posting for the British Council in Moscow and was able to develop my life-long interest in Russian art and culture. I was lucky enough to make a connection with the textile department of the All-Russia Museum of Decorative, Applied and Folk Art and was introduced to curators of other textile and folk art collections in the Moscow area.

From 1995 to 2005 I worked in the education department and as Handbook editor for British heritage and conservation charity, the National Trust. Since 2005 I have been concentrating on freelance writing, editing and speaking.

In 2004 I gained a Masters degree in the History of Decorative Art & Design from the University of Brighton, studying with eminent British textile and dress historian Professor Lou Taylor. My research took me to many museums in the UK, including the Victoria & Albert in London and the Whitworth in Manchester, to find examples of Russian textiles, particularly those associated with the Russian Arts & Crafts movement of the late 19th-/early 20th-centuries.

Over the last decade visits with the UK Textile Society to Russia, Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic, independent visits to look at embroidery and dress in Ukraine, Slovenia, Croatia, Latvia and the Czech Republic, and a period of study in the Russian Museum of Ethnography in St Petersburg have given me an up-to-date knowledge of the textile collections in this part of Europe.

I have written articles about eastern European arts and culture for ‘Embroidery‘, ‘Selvedge’ and other UK magazines, as well as exhibition reviews for the journal ‘Fashion Theory’, published in Moscow. I wrote the chapters on Russian ethnic dress, the Russian printed cotton industry, and embroidery of eastern Europe for the recently-published 10-volume reference work – the Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress & Fashion. I was assistant editor for the volume covering central, east and south-east Europe, handling all the chapters on ethnic dress.

I regularly give lectures to Embroiderers’ Guild, Quilters’ Guild, Costume Society and general interest groups in the UK.  Recently I gave a lecture and led a seminar at the Victoria & Albert Museum on the Russian textiles in their collection. My talks are illustrated by a wonderful collection of images, built up over many years, bringing to life the colourful story of textiles and dress in peasant, church, court and contemporary life in Russia, central and eastern Europe. The talks embrace the social, political and art history context of the objects I explore.