A Stitch in Time: Women, Needlework and Art & Nellie Roberts, Orchid Painter

In this episode, Naomi Clifford talks to Diane Goldie about making wearable art, and looks back at the work of two women who used stitchery to make art. Plus, a visit to an exhibition of Nellie Roberts’ watercolours of orchids.

diane goldie wearing her colourful art

Diane Goldie

So-called ‘high’ art – painting, sculpture – has been dominated by men, some of whom have pointed to women’s absence in these lofty places as evidence of their lack of ‘genius’. When women turn to other media, wax, wool, shells and so on, this is denigrated as mere craft. It’s an old argument, and it’s still going on.

During the conversation Naomi talks about two very different women artists of the Georgian era, Mary Delany (1700–1788) and Mary Linwood (1755–1845). You can find out more about the lives of these women at Naomi’s website.

Diane’s wearable artworks can be found at dianegoldieartist.com.

Image: Diane Goldie wearing one of her works.

Nellie Roberts

Artist Nellie Roberts (1872–1959) was the self-taught daughter of a clock repairer from Brixton, south London. Her 4,500 paintings, created during a 56-year career painting watercolour representations of award-winning plants for the Orchid Committee of the Royal Horticultural Society, were and are still highly prized in the field.

At a time when hundreds of awards were given annually, Nellie’s paintings provided a permanent record and helped reduce controversy created by the early duplication of names for the man-made hybrids. Her award paintings are held in the RHS Lindley Library and remain an invaluable resource for the Orchid Committee.

An exhibition of her work held in September 2019, in the street in Brixton, south London, close to where she lived, informed a new and appreciative audience to her work.

Naomi talks to Naomi talks to current orchid painter to the committee Deborah Lambkin and Tracey Gregory, who organised the exhibition, about this remarkable and little-known woman.

Contact Tracey Gregory via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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