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 fascinating live Talks. Easily accessed via Zoom, all our Talks are embellished by captivating images and are followed by Q&A sessions.
Join us in December for our final Talk of the year with historian, Eleri Lynn who will be exploring the extravagant wardrobes of King Henry VIII’s wives.
We are are also back in 2024 with more fascinating lectures about hand embroidery, craft and our amazing Collection of objects.
In January, RSN Chief Executive, Dr Susan Kay-Williams, will take you on a journey through the many roles of Fine Whitework embroidery. We also invite you to join our FREE Online Talk with a panel of experts and users who will discuss RSN Stitch Bank, the world directory of stitches.
In February we welcome back RSN Curator, Dr Isabella Rosner, who will reveal some of our Collection’s most unique and surprising items, spanning centuries and continents.
We are also delighted to introduce you to new guest speakers, Dress Historian and TV presenter, Amber Butchart, and Founder of Common Threads Press, Laura Moseley. Amber will explore the potential of fashion as a tool for forensic science and Laura will map queer identity in needlework practices since the mid-20th century.
|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 close at 3pm on the day of the event and are NON-REFUNDABLE. 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. Thank you.|
The Wardrobes of King Henry VIII’s Wives
Eleri Lynn, Wednesday 6 December 2023. 7pm UK
In this special online talk, fashion historian and author, Eleri Lynn, explores the wardrobes of King Henry VIII’s six wives. Henry was keen to showcase the royal family’s wealth by funding extravagant clothing for his wives and each woman used clothing and embroidery to create her own unique style and communicate messages of power, loyalty and love.
Join Eleri to hear more about Henry’s wives including Catherine of Aragon who popularised Spanish embroidery and Anne Boleyn who introduced French fashions to England which were later banned by Jane Seymour.
An expert on Tudor dress, Eleri is the author of Tudor Fashion (Yale University Press, 2017: winner of the 2019 Historians of British Art Award for exemplary scholarship pre-1600), and Tudor Textiles (Yale University Press, 2020).
Whitework: The Versatile Enhancement
Dr. Susan Kay-Williams, Wednesday 17 January 2024. 7pm UK
This fascinating talk begins with looking at the fabric of Whitework, initially linen and then cotton and then we take a journey through the various roles of this fine embroidery technique as adornment, as accessory, as domestic enhancement to its role in the church.
Susan will explain how Whitework was worn by men, women and children and we will see some fascinating examples not just from extant textiles in the RSN Collection but also in art.
RSN Stitch Bank: Exploring the World Directory of Stitches (RSN Free Talk)
Dr. Susan Kay-Williams and Special Guests, Wednesday 24 January 2024. 7pm UK
Want to learn more about the RSN Stitch Bank and how it can help you?
RSN Stitch Bank, launched in September 2021, now features 350 stitches and has been used by researchers, curators, historians, teachers and students all around the world.
During this round table discussion, RSN Chief Executive, Dr Susan Kay-Williams, will welcome a panel of experts and users of the RSN Stitch Bank who refer to it to inform their work. You will have the opportunity to pose questions to the panel and to learn how this wonderful free resource will contribute to your own world of stitch.
Queer Needlework Practices of Past and Present
Laura Moseley, Wednesday 7 February 2024. 7pm UK
In this captivating talk, craft researcher and founder of Common Threads Press, Laura Moseley, will map the different articulations of queer identity in needlework practices since the mid-20th century. By analysing fabric, colour, technique and processes of making, Laura will look at the different ways in which queer artists have deployed embroidery and quilting in their work.
Departing from the work of second-wave feminists that worked to reinstate needlework as an emblem of ‘women’s work’, Laura will discuss how textile crafts have since become a central focus for queer artists working with similar themes of inheritance, identity and memory.
Surprising Objects from the RSN Collection
Dr. Isabella Rosner, Wednesday 13 March 2024. 7pm UK
The RSN Collection comprises objects from all around the world representing 1,000 years of embroidery and textiles. In it are some unexpected treasures, ranging from Native American quillwork using porcupine quills to a 17th century embroidered mirror surround and the oldest known medallion sampler from an important Quaker school.
Join Isabella on a virtual tour through some of the Collection’s most unique and surprising items, spanning centuries and continents.
Forensic Fashion: Investigating Old Clothes from the Rag Trade to the Lab
Amber Butchart, Wednesday 27 March 2024. 7pm UK
What can the clothes of the dead teach us about the lives of the living? Dress historian, curator and forensic garment analyst Amber Butchart has spent two decades investigating old clothes and their stories, from working as the buyer for an international vintage clothing company, to broadcasting for the BBC and most recently, working with Crime Scene Investigators as a consultant in forensic garment analysis.
In this intriguing illustrated talk, Amber considers the power of old clothes in storytelling across literature and myth, the history of second-hand style, and the potential of fashion as a tool for forensic science
Inside the RSN Embroidery Studio
Anne Butcher and Gemma Murray, Wednesday 22 November 2023. 7pm UK
The RSN Embroidery Studio was founded in 1872 and is renowned for its exquisite hand embroidery for a range of clients from royalty, interior designers and fashion houses to individuals and families.
Join our Head of Studio, Anne Butcher and our Studio Manager, Gemma Murray to hear about the day to day running of the Studio and the wide variety of pieces that come through our doors, including the expected but also the unforeseen and unique.
Opus Anglicanum – The Finest English Embroidery
Dr Susan Kay-Williams, Wednesday 8 November 2023. 7pm UK
Opus Anglicanum literally means English work. It was made for royalty and the Church in the 13th to 15th centuries by professional embroiderers, both men and women, based in the City of London. Today most of what remains are the pieces for the Church which were collected by Popes – one Pope had collected 40 pieces by the time of his death.
The hallmarks of Opus Anglicanum are the Goldwork technique of underside couching and the individuality given to each of the figures depicted in all of the pieces. Susan’s talk will highlight the stitching and the individual copes and chasubles that still remain, along with some insight into the colours used.
Quilts and Quilted Objects in the RSN Collection
Dr. Isabella Rosner, Wednesday 25 October 2023. 7pm UK
Did you know that the RSN Collection includes not only embroidery but also a sizeable collection of quilts and other quilted objects?
Quilted pieces range from 18th century babies’ caps and panels, to 19th century patchwork quilts and 20th century samplers made at the RSN. Join RSN Curator, Dr. Isabella Rosner to learn more about quilting in the RSN Collection as she explores the use of quilting for both clothing and the home.
The History of English Sampler Making
Dr. Isabella Rosner, Wednesday 4 October 2023. 7pm UK
For centuries, English girls were taught to embroider by stitching samplers. Studying these samplers reveals rich stories of girls and women and the world in which they lived.
Meet the RSN’s new Curator, Dr. Isabella Rosner and join her on a journey through four centuries of English sampler making. This will be a unique tour of the RSN’s large sampler collection, put into conversation with samplers in major museums in the UK and the USA.
Isabella has successfully completed her PhD, entitled ‘Women Professing Godliness with Good Works: Quaker Women’s Art Before Ackworth and Westtown c. 1650-1800‘.
More Secrets from the Grove Book
Dr Susan Kay-Williams, Wednesday 27 September 2023. 7pm UK
In 2022 our Chief Executive, Dr Susan Kay-Williams, introduced us to the Grove Book, the wonderful textile cornucopia that was collected by Mrs Georgina Anne Grove and was donated to the RSN by her husband in 1924.
So filled with fantastic samples is this book, that one session was not enough to cover it all and our audience demanded more! So in this talk, Susan will reveal more about Mrs Grove as a collector and show us the many samples in the book she was not able to cover last year, from samplers to woven fabrics from Europe, China and North Africa. You do not have to have seen part one to enjoy this talk, but it is still available to view on the RSN website here
Embroidered Flowers in the RSN Collection
Dr Susan Kay-Williams, Wednesday 28 June 2023. 7pm UK
Join RSN Chief Executive and Curator, Dr Susan Kay Williams to find out more about the enduring appeal of floral designs for embroiderers throughout the centuries.
Hand embroidery affords the embroiderer a unique opportunity to explore form, colour, and texture, leading to a fascinating dialogue between embroidery and the natural world. By examining historic pieces in the RSN Collection, we will see how flowers have also been deployed as a form of visual language in many different cultural traditions of embroidery and how their temporary beauty can be captured forever in stitch.
Textile Collections of Canterbury Cathedral
Cressida Williams and Ariane Langreder, Wednesday 14 June 2023. 7pm UK
This fascinating talk will provide an overview of the textile collections at Canterbury Cathedral, which range from medieval textiles retrieved from an archbishop’s tomb, to frontals still used for covering altars, to church kneelers.
Also featured will be the extraordinary jupon of Edward, the Black Prince (died 1376), which was conserved by the RSN in the 1950s, with a replica made. We will discover how the collections have developed over the centuries, and the role that textiles have had in dressing the buildings and worship of the cathedral.
Please join Cressida and Ariane to discover the particular challenges of caring for textiles in a working church. There will also be case studies of recent conservation projects.
Cressida Williams is Manager of the Archives and Library of Canterbury Cathedral. Ariane Langreder is Book and Paper Conservation Manager at the cathedral and is an accredited member of the Institute of Conservation (ICON).
The RSN and the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III
Dr. Susan Kay-Williams and Anne Butcher, Wednesday 17 May 2023. 7pm
This Talk is free for RSN Friends
The Royal School of Needlework is honoured to have worked on the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles.
The RSN Embroidery Studio conserved the Robe of State of The King, which was worn by His Majesty on arrival at Westminster Abbey. The RSN Studio also designed and hand embroidered the Robe of Estate for Her Majesty The Queen Consort, which was worn on departure from Westminster Abbey. The embroidered design of the train draws on the themes of nature and the environment, featuring the national emblems of the United Kingdom, as well as paying tribute to His Majesty The King.
We were also delighted to have worked on the Anointing Screen used at the most sacred moment of the Coronation, the Anointing of His Majesty The King. The screen combines traditional and contemporary sustainable embroidery practices to produce a design which speaks to His Majesty The King’s deep affection for the Commonwealth.
Further RSN work was carried out on the Chairs of Estate and Throne Chairs (Chairs of State) that were used by The King and The Queen Consort at different points during the Coronation Service on 6 May.
Please join RSN Chief Executive, Dr Susan Kay-Williams and Head of the RSN Embroidery Studio, Anne Butcher for this special Online Talk on 17 May to find out more about our work on the Coronation.
A Mantle, Canopies, Robes and endless Chairs: RSN and Coronations of the 20th Century
Dr Susan Kay-Williams, Wednesday 10 May 2023. 7pm UK
In this talk, RSN Chief Executive, Dr Susan Kay-Williams will reveal some of the items that the RSN made for the coronations of 1902, 1911, 1937 and 1953 referenced by what remains in our archives that we are still discovering today, as much of the archive is uncatalogued.
In addition to objects made directly for the coronations, you will see examples of samplers, cushions and other souvenirs of the events, including pieces that even our most regular talks attenders will not have seen before. Susan will also talk about the serendipitous way that some of the pieces came back to the RSN. Please join us as there is much to see!
Eleri Lynn, Wednesday 22 March 2023. 7pm UK
The Tudors are some of the best-known figures in history. They continue, even today, to spark our curiosity and imagination. In this talk, historian and RSN Trustee, Eleri Lynn looks back at past Coronations to discover more about the crowning of Tudor monarchs.
An expert on Tudor dress, Eleri is the author of Tudor Fashion (Yale University Press, 2017: winner of the 2019 Historians of British Art Award for exemplary scholarship pre-1600), and Tudor Textiles (Yale University Press, 2020).
As the former Curator of the dress collection at Historic Royal Palaces, Eleri curated a number of major fashion exhibitions including Diana: Her Fashion Story at Kensington Palace.
(Blackwork embroidery of King Henry VIII, RSN Tutor, Kate Barlow)
Preserving Stitches: RSN Stitch Bank and Collection Pieces
Amy Hare, Wednesday 1 March 2023. 7pm UK
Launched as part of the RSN’s 150th anniversary celebrations, the RSN Stitch Bank is a unique online resource that seeks to preserve and showcase the wide variety of the world’s embroidery stitches, many of which can be found in our beautiful Collection of historic embroideries.
Join Amy Hare as she reveals the story of some of these objects through the stitches that made them.
Amy is a Senior Lecturer in Contextual Studies at the Royal School of Needlework and one of our most popular presenters. She began her career exploring the history of dress in a practical way, as a costume maker, specialising in historical costume for stage and screen. After completing an MSt in the History of Design at the University of Oxford in 2017, Amy began work as an education consultant for the Historic Royal Palaces and the Royal Dress Collection.
The Embroidered Narrative: Costume Embroidery for Film and Television
Michele Carragher, Wednesday 8 February 2023. 7pm UK
Michele Carragher is a highly creative hand embroiderer and mixed media artist who has worked in the costume department on film and television productions for over 25 years. Her first role as Principal Costume Embroiderer was for HBO’s 2005 Emmy Costume award-winning production of Elizabeth 1 starring Dame Helen Mirren. Her recent work includes the television series, Game of Thrones, working on all eight seasons, and Peaky Blinders.
Join Michele to hear about the path that lead her to work in the film and television industry as a Costume Embroiderer. She’ll explain how she developed her style and techniques, as well as giving an insight into her fascinating career. Michele will show us examples of her embroidery work and explain the process of how she created them for various well known productions.
In 2021, she published her first book, Trace – the Embroidered Art of Michele Carragher.
Canopied with Flowers: Adorning Tudor and Stuart Palaces with Floral Tapestries and Hangings
Eleri Lynn, Wednesday 25 January 2023. 7pm UK
Interior textiles, such as tapestries and hangings, were symbols of the power of the monarchy. The cloth and chair of estate, for example, were a physical representation of monarchy itself, with courtiers doffing their caps to the cloth even when the monarch was not present.
Join historian, Eleri Lynn, to find out more about the floral culture of the time as she explores the use of floral patterns and embroidery within these textiles and their meaning and significance to the Tudor and Stuart mindset.
Eleri Lynn is the former Curator of the dress collection at Historic Royal Palaces and is now Head of Exhibitions at National Museum Wales and an RSN Trustee.
The Power and Meaning of Embroidery at the Court of Elizabeth I
Eleri Lynn, Wednesday 7 December 2022. 7pm UK
At the Tudor royal court, textiles and embroidery were more highly esteemed than paintings and other forms of decorative art. Tapestries, embroideries, carpets and hangings were used to convey status and magnificence, but also to express personal loyalty or even courtly romance.
In this special lecture, historian and RSN Trustee, Eleri Lynn, will explore the role that embroidery played within the house of Tudor, with particular focus on the court of Queen Elizabeth I, for whom the codified motifs and emblems of embroidered hangings and garments had significant – and sometimes secret – meaning. Even today, these extraordinary works provide a fascinating insight into Tudor society and the projection of wealth, taste, and ultimately, power.
Stitching for Stage and Screen
Amy Hare, Wednesday 23 November 2022. 7pm UK
How does embroidery embody the past on stage and screen? Does embroidery for period performance need to be historically accurate? How does embroidery add to the authenticity of a period performance? What are the challenges of designing and realising embroidery to be seen from the back row of the theatre auditorium or scrutinised in ultra HD?
Join RSN Senior Lecturer in Contextual Studies, Amy Hare and special guests, Cathryn Avison and Thomas Sjølander for a discussion about the role of embroidery in design for performance.
An evening with acclaimed RSN embroiderer, Jenny Adin Christie
Wednesday 9 November 2022. 7pm UK
Jenny Adin-Christie is a much admired RSN Tutor who teaches across the globe and specialises in the fields of Whitework, Metal Thread Work and Stumpwork. Join Jenny to hear more about her fascinating career and her latest RSN book Fine Whitework, Techniques, Projects and Pure Inspiration, which represents more than 20 years of research into this gentle and exquisite technique and is now available to purchase from the RSN Shop.
Upon graduating from the RSN Apprenticeship with distinction in 1999, Jenny continued as a full time member of the RSN Studio team and teaching staff for a further 10 years, whilst simultaneously developing her own independent embroidery business creating bespoke kits and tutoring.
Whilst at the RSN, she became Assistant to the Head of Studio and a Studio Project Manager, playing a key role in a broad range of major commissions. This included creating embroidered monograms for Sir Paul McCartney’s classical album Ecce Cor Meum, and designing and project managing the new All Seasons and Lenten Altar Frontals for Canterbury Cathedral. She also specialised in the treatment of Whitework items and wedding veils and thus played a key role in the creation of the lace for the famed wedding dress for Catherine, The Princess of Wales.
Jenny now works as a freelance embroiderer from her home Studio in Surrey and combines working to commission with teaching, running a busy web shop and creating unique designs, many of which she produces as kits which have become famed worldwide.
The Red Dress Embroidery
Kirstie Macleod, Wednesday 26 October 2022. 7pm UK
The Red Dress is a 13-year, award winning global, collaborative embroidery project 2009 to 2022 conceived by British artist Kirstie Macleod. The initiative provides an artistic platform for women around the world, many of whom are marginalised and live in poverty, to tell their personal stories through embroidery.
Join Kirstie to hear how from 2009 to 2022, pieces of the Red Dress have travelled the globe being continuously embroidered onto. Constructed out of 84 pieces of burgundy silk dupion, the garment has been worked on by 336 women and 7 men, from 46 countries, with all 136 commissioned artisans paid for their work. The rest of the embroidery was added by willing audiences at various exhibitions and events. The Red Dress was also on display at our 150th Anniversary exhibition at the Fashion & Textile Museum in 2022.
Initially the project sought to generate a dialogue of identity through embroidery, merging diverse cultures, with no borders. However, over the 13 years the dress has also become a platform for self-expression and an opportunity for voices to be amplified and heard. Get inspired by Kirstie’s Red Dress Embroidery here.
Stitching Slowly: Hand Embroidery as Mindfulness, Sustainability and Radical Craft
Amy Hare, Wednesday 12 October 2022. 7pm UK
What does it mean to embroider something by hand in a world where much quicker, mechanical alternatives are readily available? Can the practice of hand embroidery offer some solutions to the global problems of over consumption and ‘burn-out’?
Join Senior Lecturer in Contextual Studies Amy Hare and RSN graduate embroiderers, Dev Patel and Emilie Mason as they look at objects in the RSN collection and discuss their own work in a way that gives the craft of hand embroidery a contemporary resonance.
A Girl’s Education in Stitch
RSN Curator, Wednesday 28 September 2022. 7pm UK
Join our RSN Curator to find out more about our current exhibition at Hampton Court Palace, A Girl’s Education in Stitch and hear fascinating stories about some of the objects on display.
In the early days of formal education, embroidery substituted for reading, writing and maths, so we see the use of Map Samplers in which girls learned writing and geography as well as embroidery. Our Collection houses a myriad of samplers sewn by children and young adults and those on display date from 1730s to 1880s.
Moving through to the 1900s we see the start of dressmaking as part of the curriculum and from the 20th century the exhibition focusses on the Needlework Development Scheme and other ways in which children were taught to stitch. During this talk you’ll have the chance to see fine examples of such work including enchanting miniature outfits.
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
Senior Lecturer in Contextual Studies 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 Senior Lecturer in Contextual Studies Amy Hare 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 Senior Lecturer in Contextual Studies, 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.
Senior Lecturer in Contextual Studies 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
Senior Lecturer in Contextual Studies Amy Hare 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!