Hand & Lock Prize, 2019

The Hand & Lock Prize for Embroidery is a prestigious annual event celebrating the best in the intricate craft of embroidery all over the world. It is held at the Bishopsgate Institute in London and attended by both the public and industry professionals who wish to see the latest embroidery art.

In 2019 I applied. The brief was:

“Fool the Senses. Consider the texture and feel of your embroidery, to create  embellishments with a sumptuous surface that intrigues and surprises”.

I submitted images of my latest project, an artist statement, my concept and why I entered. To my absolute shock and delight, I was chosen as a finalist. All finalists were asked to submit two or three mood boards and their final piece, with the support and guidance of a specially allocated mentor. My mentor was Diana Springall.

Diana Springall knew my work having previously purchased ‘A Bar of Drinking Chocolate, 2016’ for her large collection of textile art. We used our time to discuss the importance of embroidery being recognised as fine art and followed this with some thoughts about what I should put on my mood boards to support my entry. I had never made one before because I work according to a concept as opposed to a design. Diana said that she wanted to know how I made my work and that this should be shown to the judges.

Bish Ins
The Hand & Lock exhibition for the finalists at The BishopsGate Institute

The finals were a two day event. On Wednesday 20 November, for the first time, we were able to see how our work was being displayed and meet the other finalists. We had the chance to get to know each other, discuss our projects and discover the ideas and processes behind each beautiful piece. The public visited, and were able to meet the makers and cast a vote for their favourite piece (this was combined with the judges’ vote).

Thursday 21 November was the awards evening. The event was incredibly busy with lots of conversations between makers and industry professionals and the live judging for the four categories:  Fashion: Open Category, Fashion: Student Category, Textile: Open Category, and Textile Art: Student Open. There were also four winners for the associate awards: Wilcom Award for Digital Embroidery: Textile Art and Fashion, The Worshipful Company of Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers Award, and The Worshipful Company of Broderers Award.

Here are some images from the evening courtesy of each artist:

Sheila Ramsay: Winner of Fashion: Open Category.

Sheila flew over from Canada for the prize and presented a beautiful garment made from common milkweed fluffs, candy wrappers, upcycled piping and washers, creating a wedding jacket that was luxurious, innovative and sustainable.

Sophie Reynolds: Second Place, Fashion: Student Category.

Sophie created a sensual garment that suggested a human connection with nature by emulating repetition in design and behaviours to improve wellbeing. Sophie explored fringing, beading, and hand embroidery using recycled plastic sequins, wood, leather and acrylics.

Hannah Mansfield: Winner of the Open Category: Textile Art.

Hannah created four seasonlly inspired, stunning gold work flower structures in gold and silver. The beautiful floral arrangements were made with metal threads and imitation pearls with an underside of self-made fabric formed from metal leaf and organza.

Samantha Trevis: Second Place, Open Category: Textile Art.

Samantha Trevis: Second Place, Open Category: Textile Art.
Samantha Trevis: Second Place, Open Category: Textile Art.

Samantha’s radiant work reflects the beautiful personality of her mother who has Alzheimer’s. It is made with unwanted, unfashionable and broken items. Samantha says:

“Through the darkness we find our light. I share hers, it’s too bright to be contained.”

Finally, my piece won: Third Place, Open Category: Textile Art.

The process of making my art challenges me every time I stitch. This drawing proved challenging throughout, with the complex manipulation of thread in an endeavour to create textures including glass, metal, transparent plastic, ceramic tiles, corduroy, knit, crumpled fabric and leather. I never knew if I would actually be able to finish it, let alone entering and succeeding in one of the world’s most prestigious competitions for embroidery.

I have made some lovely new friends, seen some wonderful work and enjoyed celebrating the beautiful art of stitch. Thank you to Hand & Lock for this amazing opportunity.

For a complete view of all the finalists work please visit Hand & Lock.

Julie Heaton