Anne Kelly: travels through the eye of a needle

Anne Kelly is an embroiderer who very happily splits her practice between making and teaching. She has brought the two strands together in her forthcoming book Textile Travels. In the book Anne combines her own works - inspired by travel - with ideas for readers to follow and make, and examples of work by other textile artists for whom travel is their muse.

Tekst: Jane Audas

Textile Travels follows on from Anne’s previous books: Textile Nature and Textile Folk Art. In all her books Anne unpacks her influences as a maker. But this new book is poignant because Anne is particularly well travelled herself.

"Anne often begins making new work after travelling"

Originally from Canada, she visited Britain in 1983 and decided to stay. She studied fine art in Canada (where textiles wasn’t an option) but found making, rather than fine art, was where her artistic heart lay. Her work was collage and mixed media-based and often stitched together, so it was not so very strange that she ended up as an embroiderer.


Anne (normally) travels a lot for her work, she runs many workshops in the UK and abroad and takes part in exhibitions all over the world. It’s obvious she derives great joy from visiting new places, meeting new people, seeing new textiles and exhibitions. Anne often begins making new work after travelling, mapping her travels through her embroideries, pulling in bits of this culture and that. Objects she has bought are often incorporated into her work too. She over-works, layers, collages and stiches together found objects; whether that is the more traditional layers of fabric and paper in her wall-based work, or when she covers 3D found objects: tins, suitcases and dolls houses. And even (for the new book) a boat.

Solo exhibition

Anne is currently working toward her first major solo exhibition: Anne Kelly: Well Travelled, at Ruthin Craft Centre in Wales next year. The boat will form the showpiece of that show. Throughout the current lockdown Anne continues to work. She is trying out online workshops, reaching new audiences, although it isn’t how she prefers to teach. She is keen to keep herself thinking, making and doing, or, rather, sewing. She hopes to maintain her practice without the travel that she so loves and that so inspires her. Meanwhile Textile Travels reminds us of the joy of travels past. It gives us ideas for things to make whilst we are staying safe and close to home. Until we can take out our passports once again.


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