Discover more about the RSN and find out why we’ve been the international centre of excellence for the Art of Hand Embroidery for 150 years in our captivating live Talks. Easily accessed via Zoom, all our Talks are embellished by captivating images and are followed by Q&A sessions.
Our Spring/Summer season of live Talks is now over, but you can catch up with them on demand. We will be back in the Autumn with a brand new series — check back soon for details!
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 for a small fee ‘On Demand’. Bookings for RSN Live Online Talks are non-refundable. Bookings 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). Each booking and subsequent Zoom link is unique to one customer and one device only, so please let us know if you are booking additional places for our talks.
The Needle has a Point
Jamie “Mr X Stitch” Chalmers, RSN Anniversary Ambassador, Wednesday 6 July 2022, 7pm UK
Jamie “Mr X Stitch” Chalmers is one of the world’s most well-known male embroiderers and an internationally exhibited textile artist and curator. Jamie is a creative stitcher, who not only brings boundless positive energy to the world of needlework, but also helps break down the misconceptions of the craft.
Join Jamie for his exclusive presentation exploring modern needlework and its role in examining the world we live in. Far from being a cute craft, needlework remains a powerful tool for expression. During the evening Jamie will showcase artists who push at the preconceptions of the form, whether in their content or their use of the medium. It’ll be both fascinating and fun.
Sewing the Self: The Threads of Being Human
Susan Aldworth, RSN Anniversary Ambassador, Wednesday 29 June 2022, 7pm UK
Artist, Susan Aldworth worked with over 500 volunteer embroiderers, including BA students from the RSN, on two unique exhibitions which explored the human condition. In her 2017 award winning exhibition The Dark Self which explored the experience of sleep, 414 volunteers embroidered their dreams onto pillowcases. For Illuminating the Self, over 100 embroiderers stitched the moving testimonies of 100 people living with epilepsy onto items of Victorian underwear, for the installation Out of the Blue
Join Susan to discover why she uses embroidery in her exhibitions and how the slow process of sewing gave special meaning to the words exploring the experiences of sleep and epilepsy. Susan has exhibited both nationally and internationally and her work is held in many collections including the V&A, British Museum, Fitzwilliam Museum and Wellcome Collection. She is an associate lecturer at Central Saint Martin’s, London and a regular presenter on BBC Radio.
Amy Hare, Wednesday 8 June 2022, 7pm UK
Weddings are a time for significant, treasured textiles to take centre stage. These precious objects survive as keepsakes, markers of memory and tradition. Weddings bring the craft of hand embroidery into a new light, finding time for personalisation, fashion and cultural heritage.
The material culture of weddings is inextricably linked with the craft of embroidery and Amy will explore these links and the meaning that embroidery brings to this rite of passage through objects that now reside in the RSN Collection.
The Salve of Sewing
Clare Hunter, RSN Anniversary Ambassador, Wednesday 25 May 2022, 7pm UK
Clare Hunter shares stories of people using embroidery as an emotional expression: to ease mental distress or connect to others when they find themselves excluded from everyday life because of mental or physical frailty.
At this interactive talk, Clare will explore why so many people find the creativity and rhythm of needlework not just therapeutic, but a way to bolster an elusive sense of self.
Join us to see wonderful and unique embroideries and hear fascinating stories, many documented in Clare’s first book Threads of Life and her second, Embroidering her Truth: Mary, Queen of Scots and the Language of Power.
Dr Susan Kay-Williams, Wednesday 11 May 2022, 7pm UK
The RSN has always been a non-profit organisation, having to rely not only on our wonderful customers, but also on generous donors. This talk will give you an insight into the wide variety of people who have helped the RSN over the past 150 years including an industrialist, a police officer, a surgeon and a housewife.
Susan will reveal fascinating stories from our past such as our link to a the creator of one of the world’s most famous bedtime drinks! As we celebrate this milestone year, Susan will also tell us how many of those benevolent gifts have been used.
I Think My Name is Sewn on Somewhere: Embroidery in Childhood
Amy Hare, Wednesday 27 April 2022, 7pm UK
Amy Hare delivers a captivating talk about a series of objects that have been made over two hundred years either by or for children.
Embroidery has been used as a method to teach children many things from fine motor skills to religious instruction. But when we examine these objects decades later, what can they teach us about the societies that made them?
150 Years of the RSN: Crown to Catwalk
Dr Susan Kay-Williams, Wednesday 6 April 2022. 7pm UK
We launched our fabulous new exhibition, 150 Years of the RSN: Crown to Catwalk at the Fashion & Textile Museum in London on 1 April 2022. Join RSN Chief Executive (and the exhibition’s co-curator), Dr Susan Kay-Williams to learn more about the show and hear the stories behind some of the fascinating objects.
This will be a first opportunity to see what is on display and will whet your appetite to visit or give you a flavour of it if you live too far away. Even if you know our Collection well, there will be things to intrigue and surprise.
Embroidery and Menswear
Amy Hare, Wednesday 23 March 2022, 7pm UK
Men have enjoyed embroidery as both consumers and creators for centuries. Yet embroidery’s association with women and perceived notions of ‘femininity’ has become the norm.
By examining objects from the RSN Collection, we will see how embroidery can be considered part of a complex narrative of masculinity. Join Amy as she sheds lights on this fascinating subject.
Unpacking the Grove Book
Dr Susan Kay-Williams, Wednesday 9 March 2022, 7pm UK
This glorious book of textile cuttings and photos of textiles was collected and brought together by Mrs. Georgina Annie Grove after following her husband, who was a soldier, around Europe in 1919. When she died in 1924, the book was donated to the RSN by her husband Brigadier General Grove.
The book contains an eclectic collection of pieces across different styles and techniques and countries, and is one of the RSN’s greatest treasures, containing one of the oldest pieces in our Collection. Join Dr Susan Kay-Williams as she unpacks some of the hidden treasures it contains.
Revolutions Shall be Made in Fashions: 18th Century Embroidery in the RSN Collection
Amy Hare, Wednesday 23 February 2022, 7pm UK
Join fashion historian, Amy Hare, as she discusses rare embroideries from the Georgian period found in the RSN’s Collection archived at Hampton Court Palace.
This illustrated talk will explore the variety of embroideries produced for educational, ecclesiastical and fashionable purposes during the eighteenth century.
The Bacton Altar Cloth: The Lost Dress of Elizabeth I
Eleri Lynn and Anne Butcher, Wednesday 9 February 2022, 7pm UK
Eleri Lynn is the former Curator of the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection at Hampton Court Palace. Whilst researching a history of Tudor royal fashion, she identified a cloth that had been used as an altar hanging but which, on closer inspection, suggested an even more prestigious and historic origin.
Eleri will tell you about her research and findings, and the conservation undertaken by Historic Royal Palaces for the exciting exhibition of the altar cloth in 2019/20. Then Anne Butcher, Head of the RSN Embroidery Studio & Teaching, will talk about the work we did to create three replica flowers from the cloth for the exhibition and ultimately the stunning kits that we now teach across the world.
Image credit: Historic Royal Palaces, David Jenson
Discover Secrets of the RSN’s First 25 Years from One Book in the RSN Archive
Dr Susan Kay-Williams, Wednesday 19 January 2022, 7pm UK
At this talk you are cordially invited to the opening of Box 19 of the RSN Archives, which contains a very special book. In this book are the ephemera of the first 25 years of the RSN – the rules of being in the workroom, exhibition catalogues, sales invitations, promotional leaflets, and much more.
Material such as this, dating from 1872, is often thrown away but gives a very rich insight into the early days of the RSN. Dr Susan Kay-Williams will tell you about some of the major exhibitions held at the RSN in its infancy and show you the 19th century equivalent of an email.
People’s Choice RSN Collection Talk: Underwear & Nightwear
Amy Hare, Wednesday 12 January 2022, 7pm UK
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.
Amy Hare explores the RSN’s unique collection of underwear and nightwear to reveal an intimate experience of the past.
From Page to Frame: Meet Gifted RSN Authors
Dr Susan Kay-Williams, Wednesday 8 December 2021, 7pm UK GMT
Join Dr Susan Kay-Williams as she talks books with two popular RSN Tutors and authors Jen Goodwin and Heather Lewis.
Jen will discuss the genesis of her book on Blackwork embroidery and how she was informed by pieces from the RSN Collection. Blackwork has a rich history that has developed over the years into an iconic and sophisticated style of embroidery.
Heather will shed light on her book on Embroidered Boxes which traces their history from the seventeenth century to the present day and features techniques and guidance for stitchers wishing to create their own embroidered box.
Alongside this, Susan will tell you about some of the other books by RSN tutors from the 1990s techniques book, known affectionately as the green book to the collection of the essential stitch books known as the pink book – we like colours!
This talk also features work by recent students that highlight the festive season.
Caring For The Royal Collection
Guest Speaker: Caroline de Guitaut,
Wednesday 1 December 2021, 7pm UK GMT
Join Caroline de Guitaut, Deputy Surveyor of The Queen’s Works of Art at the Royal Collection Trust, for an 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.
Nicola Jarvis: RSN Apprentice to Award-Winning Embroiderer & Degree Tutor in 30 years
Wednesday 10 November 2021, 7pm UK GMT
In this talk we welcomed Nicola Jarvis who trained with the RSN 30 years ago. In conversation with Dr Susan Kay-Williams, Nicola tells 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 also talks 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.
Fashion Accessories from the RSN Collection
Amy Hare, Wednesday 27 October 2021, 7pm UK BST
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.
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.
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
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!