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Textile Travels with Anne Kelly

Travel has always featured heavily in textile art, from artists’ ‘travelling sketchbooks’ to large-scale installations mapping coastal erosion or the effects of climate change. In Textile Travels, renowned textile artist Anne Kelly shows how to capture your travels, past and present, in stitch, with practical techniques sitting alongside inspiring images. Here she shares some of her favourite pieces from the book and the inspiration behind them.


Western Weed Sketchbook

Mixed-media on paper

I made this sketchbook for a teaching tour to the West Country in the summer of 2019. It was meant to be a prompt for me to make some work after my teaching sessions were over. It became an enjoyable ritual drawing and stitching at the end of each day. I was delighted that a page from the book was used for the cover of Textile Travels.


Unfinished Journey Boat

Mixed-media textile, paper and wooden boat

This piece will form the centrepiece for my solo exhibition at Ruthin Craft Centre in 2021. It was made using a wooden canoe skeleton which was repurposed and covered with a mixture of paper and textile, taken from a collection of unfinished embroidery patterns. The piece is in a chapter about space and exploration.


Maudie’s House

Mixed-media textile

This was a piece inspired by Maud’s House from the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Canada. It was first exhibited at the Compton Verney Textile Fair in 2018, and then toured with the Embroiderers Guild Home exhibition through 2019. It was inspired by travel and then went on travels of its own. The second image shows the original inspiration in situ.


Home Fires Dress and Family Portraits

Mixed-media textiles

The Articles of Ancestry page in the book shows two pieces from my solo exhibition at Timeless Textiles gallery in Australia in 2019. It is the only commercial textiles gallery in Australia and shows a variety of local and international artists. It was a wonderful venue and exhibition and this page reminds me of happy times travelling and teaching in Australia and New Zealand.’


Maharini Gardens and Maharini Gardens Bag

Mixed-media textile/mixed-media textile on calico

These two pages in the book celebrate the amazing heritage and traditions of textiles in India. I was fortunate to make three trips to India to see makers and craftspeople in different areas of the country. I learnt so much about stitching, block printing and colour on cloth. I tried to capture the colours, textures and imagery in the pieces illustrated here.


Textile Travels by Anne Kelly is out now. Anne will be signing copies of the book at Pincusion Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells, Saturday 3 October 2–4pm.

Photographs by Rachel Whiting.