2020 Review

And what a year it has been! A most stressful and exhausting one (emotionally and physically) is finally almost done. It has been difficult but not entirely without some good moments, which I am highlighting here.


The year started with some terrible wildfires in Australia, and a growing recognition of the climate emergency which is unfolding around us. If not for a quickly developing respiratory virus pandemic, that might have been the main story of 2020. I visited family and friends in Germany and Canada.

Painting with natural dyes in Gujurat

In February, I led my third tour to India to Gujurat, which has an amazingly diverse and rich textile heritage. I had worked with Colouricious Holidays for several visits, and am happy to be looking at leading some tours for Bespoke Travel India in 2022, all being well.

Lovely work at the Warm Brook Barn in Vermont

March was the month that everything changed. It started out with a lovely stitch retreat with French General, in Vermont. Wonderful participants, accommodation and food, and I was delighted to work with French General later on in the year on an online project ‘Threads Together Stitched Apart”.

Bag project for ‘Stitch’ magazine

In April we were in a national lockdown, and all of my teaching for the remainder of the year was moved online or postponed. Like other makers and tutors, I found it challenging and was very grateful to have online opportunities from West Dean College, where I am due to teach next year, Kent Adult Education (online classes) which are continuing next term, and the wonderful Textileartist.org, who have written a feature on my new book too.

‘New England Houses’ series

In May I started making new work to sell online. I have sold my work through galleries, museums, at shows, workshops and from my studio in the past, but having more limited contact this year meant looking for alternative opportunities. I joined the great Artist Support Pledge, supporting my local foodbank with a 10% donation on all sales.

I am delighted to send work all over the world and enjoy the comments from visitors to my online shop. I was pleased to be a part of several charity exhibitions – at Candida Stevens Gallery in Chichester and the Secret 7″ show at NOW Gallery in Greenwich. I had a small piece touring in Switzerland with Swiss Fiberarts and have some work for sale through Timeless Textiles Gallery in Australia.

from ‘The Stitchers Journal’

I continued to contribute to various websites, books and journals this year. There were several standout pieces in readiness for the publication of ‘Textile Travels’. This piece by Caroline Zoob and Jane Audas in The Stitchers Journal was one. I also liked this blog post on the super School of Stitched Textiles site.

‘Park Walk’ Bird

In the good weather and even in the rain, I like to walk in our local park. In July I made some hand dyed and printed backgrounds with a series of hand stitched birds. These proved popular in my website shop.

Wedding gift , framed

In August, as the weather eased, I was able to travel for a brief Cornish break and to visit family and friends. It was a short respite from the conditions of what we have now come to regard as ‘normal’, and much appreciated.

Workshop at Sussex Prairies

I was able to teach two ‘in real life’ socially distanced workshops at the lovely Sussex Prairies Garden over the summer. Fortunately both days benefited from good weather and we had a sociable and creative couple of sessions. My workshops for next summer and throughout 2021 that have spaces are here.

photo Jane Audas

I was delighted to welcome my fourth book for Batsford ‘Textile Travels’ to the world in October. I had a small socially distanced book launch and signing at the Pincushion Pantiles, my local quilting shop. They are also selling my kit ‘Tea on the Pantiles” and copies of my book. The book has been well received and is available internationally.

One of the highlights of 2020 was this commissioned feature by Jane Audas in ‘Embroidery Magazine’ and having a detail of ‘Corali’ appear on the cover. It was a real pleasure to see the article and so sensitively written too.

‘World Bird Tree’ mixed media embroidery

One of the benefits of having a little more time in the studio at home this year has been having the time to make new work, but also to rework older and unfinished pieces. I wrote about my Quarantine Quilt for Mr X Stitch and they have also published a recent interview and book review.

‘Stay at Home’ shortlisted this year

What does 2021 hold? I am scheduled to have a major solo exhibition, ‘Well Travelled’, at the fabulous Ruthin Craft Centre, from mid March until July, pending further lockdowns and other scheduling commitments. I am busy with courses, talks and residential workshops online and in person, but this will all be highly dependent on the success of the vaccination programme next year.

Summer beach walk

A very happy holiday season and all best wishes for 2021 ! … x Anne

Published by Anne Kelly

Artist, author and tutor based in the UK. I exhibit and teach nationally and internationally. Member of Embroiderers Guild UK, Crafts Council Directory and Society for Embroidered Work. www.annekellytextiles.com

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