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Reviving a traditional craft to tell the story of village life in pictures

Stitchers at work in Howick Village Hall.
Stitchers at work in Howick Village Hall.

A scheme to place more than 100 local paintings in Howick Church, 85 of which are to be transferred to canvas for stitching, can now go ahead, thanks to an Awards for All grant of £5,986.

The ultimate goal is to replace the existing kneelers with a hand-stitched set, depicting local images and dedicated to local people.

There are now more than 40 suitable paintings.

There are now more than 40 suitable paintings.

The making of kneelers is a traditional craft which is being revived throughout the country.

It’s hoped that the proposed display in Howick will prove an exciting and lasting gallery of community art and craft.

Avril Meakin, who is organising the scheme, said: “Howick has a rich variety of subject matter to celebrate and share – flora and fauna, diverse landscape, interesting buildings, history and community life. We’re fortunate to have both an art group and a craft club meeting in our village hall.

“The church is at some distance from the village, and this is just one of several initiatives in recent years and going forward, for it to regain its place in community life.

PEC of Amble is doing the upholstery.

PEC of Amble is doing the upholstery.

“Howick is a small village, and we’re hoping that people from the wider district will join us in stitching these kneelers.”

Lady Howick and Helen Cooper, experienced embroiderers who are instructing novices, are enthusiastic about the potential of crafts to combat stress.

Avril added: “We have more than 30,000 visitors a year to Howick Gardens and this display will delight them for decades to come. Everyone who participates in the art and craft, or who dedicates a kneeler to a family member, will be able to take pride in the part they’ve played in this community endeavour in a magical setting.

“The Howick Heritage Group also aims to publish a book to showcase the paintings and the embroidery, as we know that people will be interested to know about the artists, the stitchers, the dedications and the subject matter.”

The pilot study.

The pilot study.

To be part of the project, whether you are a novice or an advanced tapestry worker, call Avril on 01665 577597.

An open evening is being held on Sunday, May 13, at Howick Church, from 6pm. There will be a demonstration, display of artwork and the embroidery pilot study.

There will be wine, nibbles and music. Park in the official Gardens car park (parking for the disabled at the church).

Artist Melita Butterell, one of Durham Cathedral's embroiderers, is transferring paintings on to canvas by hand using a light-box.

Artist Melita Butterell, one of Durham Cathedral's embroiderers, is transferring paintings on to canvas by hand using a light-box.