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The Art of Embroidery Nicola Jarvis and May Morris

The William Morris Gallery will showcase its first new temporary exhibition since winning the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2013 on Saturday 6 July, with ‘The Art of Embroidery: Nicola Jarvis and May Morris’.

Nicola Jarvis trained as a professional hand embroiderer at the Royal School of Needlework, and has produced fashion embellishments for leading designers including Anya Hindmarch, Jaeger and Amanda Wakeley. Winner of the 2010 ‘Inspired by Morris’ group show, her new solo exhibition includes works on paper and textiles created in dialogue with the techniques and ideas championed by William Morris’s daughter May Morris. Jarvis’s work will be exhibited alongside rarely seen archive materials offering refreshing new perspectives on May’s career.

In preparation for the exhibition, Jarvis created a series of meticulously observed botanical studies. These were developed into embroidery designs which have been stitched by friends and colleagues around the world. A huge range of techniques, including crewel work, canvas work and appliqué have been employed. A range of Jarvis’s embroidery kits will be on sale during the exhibition.

Nicola Jarvis said: “I share the same approach to design that May articulated in her text 'Decorative Needlework' (1893), 'the first thing the designer will do is to go to natural growths and animal life, and show his pleasure in them by studying their infinite grace and beauty, and introducing them into his work.'  With over two decades of experience in stitch teaching and a focus on hand embroidery, my exhibition work has afforded an opportunity to display hitherto rare and unseen embroidered works and sketches of May Morris held in the William Morris Gallery collection.”


Cllr Ahsan Khan, Waltham Forest Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “Nicola’s exhibition achieves exactly what we were setting out to do with the new-look William Morris Gallery. It can be enjoyed on many levels, from the sheer visual appeal of her exquisite craftsmanship to the historical perspective it provides and the clear correlation between May’s approach to art and that of her father. It’s a wonderful exhibition, and I cannot recommend it enough.”


‘The Art of Embroidery: Nicola Jarvis and May Morris’ runs from Saturday 6 July – Sunday 22 September 2013. The William Morris Gallery (Lloyd Park, Forest Road, Walthamstow, London E17 4PP) is open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am-5pm and entry is free. Visit for more details.



Explore the exhibition at one these related events:

Friday 12 July

The Art of Embroidery: Nicola Jarvis and May Morris


Discover the delicate art of embroidery on a special tour with one of the Gallery’s curators. The exhibition features work by May Morris and contemporary embroiderer Nicola Jarvis. Tours last for 30 minutes and take place in the exhibition room.

The talk will be followed by an embroidery demonstration and an opportunity to meet the artist. Free, no booking necessary

Wednesday 24 July 

Ornamental Embroidery 


Stitch a botanical sampler in the style of May Morris with Ornamental Embroidery teachers Lynn Hulse and Nicola Jarvis. This course will include a visit to the exhibition The Art of Embroidery where examples of embroidery by Nicola Jarvis and May Morris (William Morris’s daughter) are on display. Beginners welcome.

£57.50 including materials, booking essential as places are limited. Tea and coffee will be provided; please bring lunch or visit the Tea Room

Saturday 27 July

In the Morris Garden

1pm – 4pm

On the last Saturday of every month we pack the Gallery full of fun activities for families to make and do together. Explore the new William Morris Garden in Lloyd Park and The Art of Embroidery exhibition that was inspired by nature. Free, drop-in event for families of all ages

Thursday 15 August 2013 

Birds of a Feather

10am – 11.30am, repeated at 1pm – 2.30pm

Make a bird costume and learn to fly with Creative Kids, a regular session for children under five to enjoy with their parents and carers. In partnership with Lloyd Park Children’s Centre. Free, booking essential. Booking for each session will be opened one month in advance

William Morris Gallery 

Winner of the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2013, the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, North East London, is dedicated to the life and work of the radical Victorian designer and social activist. 

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