We are delighted to welcome back Dr Susan Kay-Williams and Amy Hare for an autumn season of Online Talks about the RSN and our amazing Collection of hand embroidery objects spanning four centuries. Join us to discover more about the RSN and discover why we’ve been the international centre of excellence for the Art of Hand Embroidery since 1872.
In this season of live talks, RSN Degree Lecturer and fashion historian, Amy Hare, will show more rare and wonderful pieces from our archives during her one-hour object-focused talks, while the RSN’s Chief Executive and Exhibition Curator, Dr Susan Kay-Williams, will be in conversation with three key RSN associates as they celebrate significant milestones in their stitching journeys in the lead up to our 150th Anniversary in 2022. We are also delighted to introduce guest speaker, Anne Hilker in late September. Anne will discuss Erica Wilson, the world’s first and original hand embroidery influencer!
Easily accessed via Zoom, all our talks are embellished by captivating slides and are followed by Q&A sessions.
Please note that these Talks are LIVE ONLINE EVENTS and are not available to watch immediately afterwards. If you cannot watch a live event, or want to watch again in the future, we do re-release popular talks at a later date ‘On Demand’. Bookings for RSN Live Online Talks are non-refundable. Bookings usually close at 3pm on the day of the event. After booking, you will receive your unique Zoom invite by email 24-48 hours before each event (3 hours if booked on the day).
Fashion Accessories from the RSN Collection
Amy Hare, Wednesday 27 October 2021, 7pm UK BST
Bookings close at 3pm on the day
Amy has delved into our Collection to find glorious examples of bags, purses, gloves, fans, shawls and parasols that reveal our enduring appreciation of hand embroidered accessories.
Accessories are where the craft and artistry of embroidery, and the display of fashion, taste and consumption are perfectly matched. In this talk, Amy will explore a variety of embroidered objects that demonstrate the versatility and beauty of embroidery over the past four hundred years.
Nicola Jarvis: RSN Apprentice to Award-Winning Embroiderer & Degree Tutor in 30 years
Wednesday 10 November 2021, 7pm UK GMT
Bookings close at 3pm on the day
In this talk we welcome Nicola Jarvis who trained with the RSN 30 years ago. In conversation with Dr Susan Kay-Williams, Nicola will tell us about her experience of the RSN Apprenticeship but also taking those skills further when she took an MA at Wimbledon School of Art.
Nicola will also talk about her love of William and May Morris’s work and the impact of winning a competition at the William Morris Gallery, along with the early days of teaching on the RSN Degree programme. You’ll also be treated to a gallery of some of her most exquisite pieces of hand embroidery.
People’s Choice RSN Collection Talk: Underwear & Nightwear
Amy Hare, Wednesday 24 November 2021, 7pm UK GMT
Bookings close at 3pm on the day
From the luxurious negligee to functional combinations, embroidery becomes a subtle and highly personal art form when it appears on those garments worn closest to the skin.
Join Amy as she explores the RSN’s unique collection of underwear and nightwear to reveal an intimate experience of the past.
Caring For The Royal Collection
Guest Speaker: Caroline de Guitaut,
Wednesday 1 December 2021, 7pm UK GMT
Bookings close at 3pm on the day
Join Caroline de Guitaut, Deputy Surveyor of The Queen’s Works of Art at the Royal Collection Trust, for a fascinating illustrated talk about this fabulous Collection and hear about some of the challenges of looking after a myriad of fascinating objects.
Caroline has been responsible for many exhibitions at Buckingham Palace and other royal residences, including the Coronation Exhibition of 2013 which featured three items made by the RSN, one of which was the Robe of State.
From Page to Frame: Meet Gifted RSN Authors
Dr Susan Kay-Williams, Wednesday 8 December 2021, 7pm UK GMT
Bookings close at 3pm on the day
As Abraham Lincoln said: “A capacity and taste for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others.” Join us for this wonderful talk and meet RSN embroiderers who have bottled their expertise and knowledge into fabulous illustrated books which are sure to end up on your Christmas list!
Dr Susan Kay-Williams will interview some of our talented RSN authors including Emi Nimura, a tutor at the RSN’s Japan satellite. Emi’s glorious book on Goldwork includes instructions on how to make brooches and bags with luxury embellishment.
RSN Apprentice to Head of Studio & Teaching:
Anne Butcher’s 40-year Stitch Journey
Wednesday 13 October 2021, 7pm UK BST
As the RSN approaches its 150th anniversary in 2022, Dr Susan Kay-Williams will introduce you to Anne Butcher our current Head of the Studio and Teaching who celebrates 40 years of association with the RSN next year.
Anne will reveal stories about training as an Apprentice in the 1980s, some of the projects she worked on, our move to Hampton Court and her wedding dress featuring in our 125th exhibition in 1997. She returned to the RSN after having children, first as a teacher and then to run the Studio and the C&D programme. Anne will also talk about what it was like to suddenly move everything online in 2020.
This talk is currently not available on demand.
Erica Wilson: The Original Hand Embroidery Influencer
Wednesday 29 September 2021, 7pm UK BST
Erica Wilson achieved celebrity status as an embroidery entrepreneur in the second half of the twentieth century. We are delighted to welcome guest speakers, Anne Hilker and Vanessa Diserio (Erica’s daughter), who will shed light on Erica’s fascinating life and career as the original hand embroidery influencer.
This talk looks at Erica’s early training at the Royal School of Needlework; her career, including her kits, books, television show, and store on Madison Avenue in New York City; and her stitching styles and techniques. Anne will also be highlighting pieces from the current online exhibition at Winterthur Museum, “Erica Wilson: A Life in Stitches.” Vanessa will reveal stories of growing up within such a creative family and how she continues Erica’s embroidery legacy today.
Anne Hilker is a writer, historian, and lifelong embroiderer. She co-authored, with Linda Eaton, Erica Wilson: A Life in Stitches, published by Winterthur Museum in 2020.
Vanessa Diserio now runs the family business and their beautiful shop, Erica Wilson Nantucket
This talk is currently not available On Demand.
60 Years at the RSN with Elizabeth Elvin (former RSN principal)
Wednesday 8 September 2021, 7pm UK BST
Join us to meet Elizabeth Elvin in conversation with Dr Susan Kay-Williams. Liz was the former principal of the RSN and is now celebrating 60 years of association with us – not bad for someone whose letter of appointment only confirmed a place for four months!
In this illustrated talk, Liz will reflect on her early days in the Workroom learning from some of the longest serving members of staff, going on to teach for the RSN, then later returning to the Workroom and becoming principal in 1990, a role she held until 2007. Today Liz is an assessor for the Certificate and Diploma programme. Liz will share anecdotes and stories never revealed before!
This talk is not currently available On Demand
All That Glisters: The Historical Appeal of Metal Thread Embroidery
Amy Hare, Wednesday 30 June 2021, 7pm UK BST
In this talk, Amy examines Goldwork embroidery in the RSN Collection and considers the global appeal of this technique throughout history.
Through the objects in our archives, we can learn more about how metal thread embroidery has played an important role in the material culture of power, status and identity.
Landscapes in Stitch
Dr Susan Kay-Williams, Wednesday 16 June 2021, 7pm UK BST
Join us to see some stunning embroideries by past and present RSN students who have taken both rural and urban landscapes as their inspiration for Canvaswork, Blackwork, and Appliqué projects.
Dr Susan Kay-Williams will also reveal the constraints and opportunities of creating landscapes using Jacobean Crewelwork. The colour palettes may be limited, but our creative students display playfully distorted perspectives to create mythical landscapes and every possible take on the tree of life motif!
Hats, Bonnets & Veils: Embroidered Millinery
Amy Hare, Wednesday 26 May 2021, 7pm UK BST
From the purely functional to the highly symbolic, head coverings and their embellishment can tell us much about the lived experience of the past.
Join Amy as she explores this significant element of the RSN Collection and shows you stunning examples of millinery throughout the years.
Four Weddings, Four Coronations & Two Funerals: The RSN’s Royal Commissions
Dr Susan Kay-Williams, Wednesday 12 May 2021, 7pm UK BST
Image copyright: Hugo Burnand
In this talk, we’ll reveal some of the RSN’s precious gifts and commissions for the royal family illustrated by objects from our archives, letters and accounts in newspapers of the day.
Our Curator will show you some of the principal and well-documented items made for two State funerals, four coronations, four royal weddings and court events from 1901 to 2011.
This talk will reveal lots of pomp, splendour and lingerie!
Hand Embroidery in the 20th Century: Modernism in the RSN’s Collection
Amy Hare, Wednesday 28 April 2021, 7pm UK BST
How did hand embroidery adapt to the challenges of modernism and develop its own distinctive direction at the RSN in the twentieth century?
By considering samples, design work and unusual embroidered objects in the RSN Collection, Amy explores how hand embroidery looked to the past and to the future by creating the Art of the moment.
The RSN’s Warm Welcome: 150 Years of Royal Visitors
Dr Susan Kay-Williams, Wednesday 14 April 2021, 7pm UK
The School of Art Needlework was founded in 1872 and gained its Royal prefix in 1875 when Queen Victoria became Patron. Our President was Princess Helena, formally known as Princess Christian of Schleswig Holstein. She was very passionate about the RSN and encouraged many people to visit.
In this talk, Dr Susan Kay-Williams will reveal some of our esteemed visitors from Queen Victoria herself to foreign heads of state, as told through newspaper accounts of the time. What did Queen Victoria want to see? Who did Edward VII and Queen Alexandra bring to view RSN workers? When did Queen Mary first visit and with whom? These are just a few of the questions Susan will be exploring.
Whitework & Lace: A Shining and Affirmative Thing
Amy Hare, Wednesday 24 March 2021, 7pm UK GMT
The RSN Collection houses stunning examples of Whitework and lace objects spanning four hundred years.
Join Amy as she explores the function and meaning of white embroidery in the past and highlights some of the most delicate and interesting pieces in our Collection. See some rare and wonderful pieces from our archives in this object-focused Talk followed by a Q&A session easily accessed via Zoom.
Stitch is International
Dr Susan Kay-Williams, Wednesday 10 March 2021, 7pm UK GMT
In this talk we reveal the RSN exhibition that never was – ‘Stitch is International’! Our Curator, Dr Susan Kay-Williams, will bring its key elements to you virtually and show you some of her personal collection of pieces too.
You’ll see objects from across the world from Chile to Japan and India to Panama. The pieces include clothing and tableware, to the purely decorative. Be prepared for a riot of colour and stitches and a wide variety of subject matter!
Embroidery & Needlework in Education
Amy Hare, Wednesday 24 February 2021, 7pm UK GMT
Back in 1872 the RSN’s central mission was to provide an education in the Art of Hand Embroidery, but needlework and sewing have been taught for centuries as part of girls education.
In this Talk we explore how needlework and sewing served diverse purposes in nineteenth century England, using teaching materials and fascinating student sample books from the RSN Collection.
Goldwork from the RSN Collection
Dr Susan Kay-Williams, Wednesday 10 February 2021, 7pm UK GMT
Join us for a talk which goes to the heart of the RSN’s work – Goldwork – the technique for which we are probably best known. You will discover our approach to this stunning technique and learn how others do it differently.
Our Curator, Dr Susan Kay-Williams, will show you samplers, pieces for the church and embroideries for royalty. You will also see beautiful motifs stitched by RSN students featuring Goldwork on its own or in combination with other techniques such as Blackwork and Silk Shading.
Four Centuries of Embroidered Bags, Pouches & Purses
Amy Hare, Wednesday 27 January 2021, 7pm UK GMT
Practical, affordable and highly significant, embroidered bags and purses form a substantial part of the RSN Collection. Join us to see some stunning objects and discover the chronological development of embroidery as an art form for accessories from the 17th to the 20th century.
Faces & Figures in Embroidery
Dr Susan Kay-Williams, Wednesday 13 Jan 2021, 7pm UK GMT
Tune in for a final chance to see pieces from one of our most popular exhibitions up close and in detail with our Curator, Dr Susan Kay-Williams! This talk will look at the different embroidery techniques featured through a small number of works.
Susan will be joined by a guest RSN tutor to explore the different stitches and how they have been brought together. Techniques covered will include Blackwork, Tapestry Silk Shading, Goldwork, Stumpwork, Appliqué and Canvaswork.
Victorian Embroidery in the 19th Century
Amy Hare, Wednesday 25 November, 7pm UK GMT
The commodification of needlework in Victorian Britain and the concept of self-improvement through craft is considered in Amy’s Talk. When we encounter an embroidered object, we can be charmed by its beauty, in awe of its craftsmanship or intrigued by its unfamiliarity, but we are also bearing witness to the act of making, the moment of deliberate and exact stitching. Join us as we examine a series of embroidered objects like these decorative Berlin Woolwork and beaded face screens made in the nineteenth century.
Self Fashioning: Embroidery & Needlework in Dress
Amy Hare, Wednesday 28 October 2020, 7pm UK GMT
Discover how embroidery has adorned and embellished fashionable dress for centuries. From needlework studios to bedroom stitchers, embroidery has been used to create the ‘self’ through fashion. Amy will show you garments and samples from the RSN collection to explore this idea.