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04 February 2020Painting with a Needle: 18th Century Embroidery for Gentlemen and Botanists
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Painting with a Needle: 18th Century Embroidery for Gentlemen and Botanists Dr Susan Kay-Williams BA (Hons) MA PhD FRSA Tuesday 04 February 2020

By the 18th century the dyers had learned how to make a much greater range of colours and we see the growth of two particular activities - embroidered clothes and embroidered art. In particular this period saw the birth of the gentleman’s three-piece suit comprising waistcoat, jacket and breeches all adorned with matching embroidery. It was also the period of botanic art, based on the finds of the plant hunters, but as Mrs Delany showed, flowers could be depicted in paint or in thread. Through silk shading the concept of painting with a needle was born and this lecture will show some of these amazing pieces where the observer believes they could actually pluck or even smell the flowers, so lifelike do they look.

Dr Kay-Williams is Chief Executive of the Royal School of Needlework, based at Hampton Court Palace. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Chartered Institute of Marketing, in 2015 she was made a Fellow of the Society of Dyers and Colourists in recognition of her work on the history of dyes. Susan has a longstanding interest in textiles, especially colour, and published her first book, The Story of Colour in Textiles (Bloomsbury) in 2013. She has extensive lecturing experience and has been invited to lecture in the USA, Canada, China, Japan and Taiwan as well as for the V&A and across the UK.