Experiencing first hand this morning the power of stitching to bring people together. A lovely zoom with East London Textile Arts and – a project re-imaginging the work of Madge Gill. An open brief to stitch or explore her work in some way. 

Madge worked in such a way that it connects people. She used her drawing and her embroidery as a tool through a difficult life…and using her work as inspiration or a ‘food for thought’ jumping off point, stories were shared from the group of how stitching and drawing has helped people through illness, was used by family members through mental health traumas and how stitching was used as an escape from life during difficult times. 

Today, I really experienced the joy and power of sitting with an open, supportive, friendly group stitching and chatting together – it was lovely. 

The exhibition is in conjunction with Newham Heritage Month (who have a great website btw) is called Re-imagining Madge Gill and is in Little Ilford Baptist Church on Saturday 22 May (11-4pm).

The book about Madge Gill can be found here – I don’t know whether to order one to Portugal or pick it up when I’m in the UK. I think I will order it.

I was working on an embroidery that I had started a while ago, but it never got anywhere so I re-worked into it looking at it through the lens of Madge’s work. I always felt connected to her work and I always loved it. 

When I first saw the work of Madge Gill, probably around 10 years ago in the Welcome Collection, I think it actually validated the doodles and faces and pages that I always felt compelled to draw and do but didn’t think were ‘art’.  It also made me feel seen; not such a weird-o that I used drawing to process emotion, when it was more difficult for me to talk about things.

I think now I am opening up to my emotional side, maybe I don’t use drawing in such a way any more but I can still access the power of filling up a page and the need to fill it before you can let your mind go to anywhere else.

Here is the piece I was working on. It’s not finished but I will keep pottering along.

I wish I could go to the exhibition in person and meet the ladies. 

The most touching story that was shared, was by a woman named Rachelle Francis who’s late mother Diana was a prolific artist – who sadly shared similar struggles as Madge and also a similar style of work.

It was really moving to hear a child’s experience of a mother who couldn’t connect though words but used art as her vehicle, and her work was absolutely incredible! It can be found here.

I hope an art institution helps Rachelle show her mother’s work to the world – as it deserves to be seen.

Another artist that was brought up this morning that I hadn’t come across was Agnes Richter (pic above), who was admitted into a psychiatric institution when she was in her 50’s and embroidered heavily and autobiographically onto her jacket. This reminds me of a work by Katerina Jebb that I can across recently in AnOther Magazine that I wanted to talk about so I think I will link that together somehow and BRB.

For now here are some amazing images of Madge Gil’s drawing and embroidery works.

Just incredible, incredible work – free form large scale embroidery. Loose threads, canvasses spanning meters and meters. Just amazing – I would love to see more of the work in real life!