Sue Dove, embroiderer

I had a great time last week at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate. I’ve been going for years. It first began way back when I was doing a City and Guilds Embroidery course up at Ashington in Northumberland. It was at the show that I found out about my Textiles degree course and then going there each of the five years it took me to do the degree Hartlepool. I also went during the year I did my teacher training at Bretton Hall and during the seven years when I was teaching Textiles in Yorkshire (when the show was just up the road from where we lived). On return to the North-East I went most of the six years that I taught in Stockton-on-Tees. Now, a year and a bit into my new role as self-employed designer-maker, I am still going to the show! It has been a constant marker in the year – a November fixture.

The event takes place in no less than five halls of the Harrogate International Conference Centre. A (long) day is just about enough to see everything, although I have one friend who tries to spend two days at this particular show because it has so much to offer.

It is a buyer’s event of course: all kinds of fabrics, threads, yarns, gadgets and machines are on offer, but the show also includes good exhibition areas, including a graduate show-case which is always interesting.

The highlight this year for me was an exhibition stand containing the work of textile artist Sue Dove. I have enjoyed and admired Sue’s work from the time when I first saw it in ‘Embroidery’ magazine. It was therefore a privilege to not only examine a number of examples of the work, but to meet the maker herself. There is (quite rightly) a ‘No photography’ notice, but I asked special permission and here is the artist, right next to a vibrant self-portrait.

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Sue uses thread as one might use a thick crayon or a pastel and the pieces she makes are composed of these areas or blocks of colour which combine to make the whole. The intense stitching creates a rich texture on the surface. It is very satisfying to look at and enjoy, because the piece has qualities as a textile work that could not be achieved in any other medium. You can find out more about Sue Dove at

I was also pleased to see that Sue had kept her distinctive style intact through a long period of development as an artist. She writes in her book ‘Painting with Stitches’ (which I bought to enjoy at home) about being influenced by artists such as Kandinsky, Hundertwasser, Matisse, Picasso and Clarice Cliffe, but the embroideries emerge as distinctly her own.

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The embroideries glow at you from the gallery wall and the richness of the colours and stitching draw you to them. These works of art are truly life-enhancing. Try and see some if you can.

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This is my   fabric design.  You can find it here.

Leaping sheep, green


2 thoughts on “Sue Dove, embroiderer

  1. vivjm says:

    I loved Sue’s work too, when I saw it at Alexandra Palace. Her style is so vibrant and joyous isn’t it?

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