A warm welcome was given to our speaker for the day Helen Richman. Helen would be speaking to us in the afternoon and had placed some of her beautiful work on display. Before then, however, she would have to judge the results of our morning activity – ‘The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party’. Members were given tea/coffee and cakes and a black bin bag full of assorted materials. Working in groups of 4 or 5 each group would devise a hat, to be modelled in a fashion parade at the end of the morning.
Much hilarity ensued with members showing their ingenuity and creativity by making a host of hats from pizza bases, plastics bags, card boxes, tissue and lots of bits. Helen enjoyed watching the creation of these masterpieces and found it hard to decide on a winner with two groups tying for first place, being rewarded with inspiration packs for their efforts.
In the afternoon we settled down to listen to our speaker. The main subject of Helen’s talk was ‘British Wildlife in Hand Embroidery’ but she first gave us a few details about the development of her embroidery career to the point where she now has her own business teaching and working on commissions. Her love of drawing creatures from life and her intensive training at the RSN has enabled her to render animals in such minute detail it seems impossible that they are not alive. She examined how wildlife has been an inspiration for embroiderers from the time of Opus Anglicanum church vestments right up to Jane Hall butterflies, demonstrating with illustrations that subjects that were once stylised and incorrect in scale and detail are often now so meticulously shown that they would not be out of place in nature guides. Her erudite and engaging talk was enjoyed by members, and after answering questions she was thanked by Bronwyn Fleming.
Helen then spoke about the high standard of the competition entries and explained her reasons for choosing the winning entries. The Speakers Choice, and the person who would take home the Mildred Higgins Trophy this year was Jo Eades, who was also named Members’ Choice. Helen most generously also presented Jo with a large print of her work, Jo choosing a fox. The prize for Technique was given to Cathie Young and that for Design was given to Barbara Dunkerley.