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Editorial blog

Georgina Bellamy - from grumpy frogs to golden lizards!

08 Oct 2019

Georgina Bellamy discusses her art and life ahead of her exhibition, That Embroidery Girl, at the The Knitting & Stitching Show

We’re really looking forward to your exhibition of hand embroidered 3D goldwork. Tell us about the pieces that you’ve chosen for your gallery.

The main installation is probably the most exciting thing I have produced to date and really comes from my love of creating characters and stories with my embroidery. There will be a grumpy frog queen, a wise old mouse and some golden lizard guards to name but a few. For me, embroidery is about fun and wonder and that is really what I want to capture and give back to my audience.

As a fashion graduate from the London College of Fashion, you’ve said that it’s the couture fashion houses that inspired your passion for embroidery. Where do you find inspiration today and what is it about goldwork in particular that you enjoy?

My main source of inspiration these days comes from the people I meet, animals I love or the techniques I want to try. Most of my animals are often loosely based on people. It might be a grumpy aunt, a moaning sister or some happy person I met briefly while out. Each one of them can spark an idea that leads to an animal. Animals themselves often inspire me too. I love to look at pictures of them and get excited trying to figure out how I am going to construct the face or body. Technique will forever inspire me as I continue to learn more every day. I recently got back into ribbon work and have been enjoying it immensely. I am just looking for the perfect project to cross it over with my 3D goldwork.

You’ve produced bespoke hand embroidery for many fashion clients including Louis Vuitton. Can you tell us about some/one of your favourite commissions?

I will always have a very large soft spot for Sully the tortoise as it was a pet of a very nice lady and I was so very happy with how much she loved it. But overall, I try not to pick out best or worst. I really see my work as a journey that I am on and each project has something to teach me. It’s sometimes the “bad” projects that teach me the most, so I am rarely sorry they happened.

You turned your passion for embroidery into a business. How do you balance creating art for shows with producing commissioned work for clients and teaching workshops?

It’s definitely very hard - but I think the pathway of an entrepreneur always is and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My art is always the most important thing to me and luckily it pushes forward the rest as it promotes the best of my skills. I try to make sure I have a balance in life but with something like a show so near, it’s very hard. I just feel so very lucky that I love what I do and so it never feels like a chore.

We’re big fans of your close-up stitch tutorials on Instagram. Is teaching something you enjoy?

I love to teach. It brings me such pleasure. In my workshops the only rule I have is that the student must be patient. I strongly believe mistakes make you better, so I encourage my students to be very free and make mistakes. It is very rewarding to see their confidence grow with their skill. I have often been shocked and amazed with how much a beginner can improve in just one lesson

Sewing intensively all day, every day must be pretty painful. Are there days when you take time out from your craft and what do you do to relax?

I love to spend time with my son on my days off. We sit and chat, play monopoly or go out for a meal and just watch the world go by. Watching my son growing up has brought me a lot of happiness and amusement over the years and even more so now he is at the awkward teenager phase. I am also a keen audio book fan and work my way through anything and everything that holds my interest. At the moment it is The Lord of the Rings - Fellowship of the Ring by Tolkien and this is the fourth time listening. The books get better each time I listen, and I find the fantasy element really helps me to invent my characters.

Can you tell us about some of the projects/commissions you’re working on currently and what’s next for you?

I have lots of teaching plans and I also want to get back into fashion embroidery. I really want to do some customised pieces for garments and explore semi 3D embroidery and its possibilities. I also want to begin work on creating a channel for craft and promoting my work and my business to more people. A life goal would be to write a 3D goldwork embroidery book although I am not in a rush - it can wait a while.

We know you feel passionately about keeping hand embroidery alive. What advice would you give anyone keen to try it and do you feel you still have more to learn?

I don’t think I will ever stop learning and I don’t want to. If I knew everything it would no longer be fun. For me the fun comes from finding out if I can do something. I cannot do the same thing on repeat, so learning new things is a must for me. My advice for beginners would differ according to the level you wanted to take your embroidery too.

For the hobbyists, my advice would be to get some books and find some good workshops. So much can be gained from both. Don’t underestimate the importance of learning in a class environment - you can learn so much more in person than through a kit or book.

For the wannabe embroidery professional, my advice would be to invest in an education of the craft, ideally a long course of some kind or a degree that teaches you not just your practical skills but design skills too.

Spend time developing your own style and try not to copy trends or others. Lastly, invest time in understanding how social media works and how to use it to your best advantage. You might be surprised at where it takes you.

Georgina Bellamy’s exhibition, That Embroidery Girl, is at The Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace, London from October 10-13, 2019, and Harrogate Convention Centre, Harrogate from November 28 - December 1, 2019.

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