RSN Curator Online Talks 2021


Dr Susan Kay-Williams

Join us for our new season of online Curator Talks to discover more about the RSN and why we’ve been the international centre of excellence for the Art of Hand Embroidery since 1872.

These exclusive talks will focus on life at the RSN throughout the years, our acclaimed methods of teaching, the embroidery techniques we’re most famous for and, of course, our unique Collection containing over 4,000 objects donated from all over the world.

Presented by the RSN’s Chief Executive and Exhibition Curator, Dr Susan Kay-Williams, and guests, our one-hour talks, followed by Q&A sessions, are easily accessed via Zoom.

Bookings normally close at 3pm on the day of the event. Please note that after booking, you will receive your unique Zoom invite 24-48 hours before each event (3 hours if booked on the day). The Talks are currently live events only and are not available to watch afterwards. If you cannot make the live events or want to watch them again in the future, we may re-release the recordings ‘on demand’ in the latter half of 2021.

The RSN’s Warm Welcome: 150 Years of Royal Visitors

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.

Four Weddings, Four Coronations & Two Funerals: The RSN’s Royal Commissions

Wednesday 12 May 2021, 7pm UK BST

(Bookings close at 3pm on the day of the event)

Official Royal Wedding Photograph, by Hugo Burnand

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!

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Landscapes in Stitch

Wednesday 16 June 2021, 7pm UK BST

(Bookings close at 3pm on the day of the event)

Join us to see some stunning embroideries by past and present RSN students as they take 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!

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Previous Talks Presented by Dr Susan Kay-Williams

Stitch is International

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!


Goldwork from the RSN Collection

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.

Faces & Figures in Embroidery

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.