Meet Francesca Lim who graduated from the BA (Hons) Hand Embroidery in 2019. Francesca grew up in Malaysia and in her Third Year had the amazing opportunity to meet The Queen of Malaysia when Her Majesty visited the RSN (Images above).
“I have a very multicultural background of Italian, Ukrainian and Malaysian-Chinese heritage, which has influenced my work in different ways. I would say my love for bold colours and eccentric combinations of materials are inspired by my Italian side, as my Italian grandmother always had a colourful and overly patterned home. I have been told many times, “you must love embroidery because of your background” whether it be my Ukrainian or Chinese heritage, and perhaps unconsciously it has. I grew up in Malaysia, where we are constantly celebrating different cultures’ holidays. I have always been excited to learn and be part of cultures other than my own, as well as share my own cultures with others.
It was only towards the end of high school that I began to explore textiles as a medium. I woke up one day and turned to my art teacher, who had known me to be more of a drawing based student, and said ‘I want to make a dress.’ Someone who had never even picked up a needle before and I took a risk and achieved a dress that I was proud of. I began to search for Embroidery Degree Courses and was delighted when I found the Royal School of Needlework. When I met the RSN Tutors and Students at their Degree Show to see what they created, I felt motivated and excited to learn what they have achieved.
For my Third Year Final Major Project at the Royal School of Needlework, I drew inspirations from my love of a variety of dolls which I have collected since I was a child. My fascination with them is how each doll creates its own character and style based on its appearance and craftsmanship. The collection is called ‘Dollhouse’, because it groups ‘rooms’ for each doll with their own character, each recreated in a form of artwear. In my collection, there is an Octopus styled hooded cape with detachable tentacles inspired by mythical fantasy dolls such as mermaids and fairies. Also in the collection is a Neckpiece inspired by the 1800s styled dolls and their large lace collar fashion, and five similarly inspired handbags each with their own theme: Cherubs, Church, Sweethearts, Royals and War. I enjoy scavenging for antique items to use in my work, giving them a new life. My favourite techniques are Goldwork and Needlelace. I love adding shiny and textural materials in my work!
My most memorable moment at the RSN was when the Queen of Malaysia visited. I had the pleasure of showing Her Majesty my work and speaking about my aspirations for the future. I felt proud as someone who is part Malaysian to have met Her Majesty and that she liked my work.
Since graduating, I have been working on my own brand ‘Frangibella’ online. It is now featured in a store in Windsor called Hotrocks. I look forward to growing my brand and seeing where it takes me in the future.
If you’re thinking of applying, visit an Open Day or their Degree Show and speak to the students. What I loved is having Tutors around to support you and give you advice when needed. RSN has many great opportunities to work with fashion houses or collaborations. Plus the view from the dedicated Studios is so beautiful!