ONE of the world’s most renowned male embroiderers is exhibiting his revolutionary and sometimes subversive designs at the Sussex Arts & Crafts house Standen.
Jamie Chalmers, aka Mr X Stitch, fresh from the BBC’s MAKE! Craft Britain, has been a stitcher for more than 15 years and proves that this humble craft is alive and kicking and not limited to images of cute kittens and country cottages.
The bold and thought-provoking exhibition, Mr X Stitch Guide to Cross Stitch, charts the journey of cross stitch through the ages. Using exquisite works from the 1700s, samplers from the 1800s, and designs stitched in to metal as well as contemporary 3D cross stitch models, Jamie will show how embroidery is woven throughout the fabric of our society.
“X Stitch is a powerful thing,” says Jamie, who is married with a child. “It means we can all be activists. It means we can all express ourselves in ways that we might not have felt otherwise. It means that we can all be artists.”
Jokily referring to himself as the “kingpin of contemporary embroidery, he established the Mr X Stitch website in 2008, where he showcases new talent in the world of textiles and stitch, and has curated a number of stitch-based exhibitions in the UK and Ireland.
Jamie is an accomplished and internationally exhibited artist in his own right, he is the curator of PUSH Stitchery, the author of the Mr X Stitch Guide to Cross Stitch and the founder of the game-changing XStitch cross stitch design magazine, which launched a year ago.
An active leader in the online stitch community, he loves introducing new people to the benefits of embroidery from a creative and wellbeing standpoint.
And, keen to show how cross stitch is still relevant today, Jamie’s exhibition will challenge common preconceptions about the craft and explore the way in which it holds a mirror up to our changing world.
Visitors to Standen, which was designed by architect Philip Webb and his friend William Morris and where the big names of the Arts & Crafts period are represented, will discover bold and powerful works that explore environmental issues, eating disorders and the treatment of refugees as well as subversive pieces intended to make visitors smile and realise that cross stitch is a fertile tool for pop-culture commentary.
Standen’s visitor experience manager Richard Grudzinski explains, “Jamie’s fresh, bold and often surprising designs are deeply rooted in the ethos of the Arts & Crafts Movement. He is keeping the conversation alive about how cross stitch and needlework is often unfairly judged as being inferior to other forms of art and how it should be given the recognition that it deserves.”
Jamie adds, “It’s a real honour for me to work with Standen. The property itself is such a great example of the power and beauty of handicraft and so it’s the perfect venue to bring modern cross stitch to a new audience.
“I look forward to introducing people to fresh ideas in cross stitch that will prove that it remains a vibrant and exciting art form.”
Following on from the exhibition, Jamie will be designing the contemporary art installation, The Xmas Tree at Standen’ this Christmas.
Mr X Stitch guide to Cross Stitch exhibition is at Standen, West Hoathly Road, East Grinstead, from Saturday September 1 until Sunday November 11.
The Xmas Tree at Standen can be seen from Saturday November 24 until Sunday January 6.
Above and below: Jamie Grant, aka Mr X Stitch. Picture above: Stacy Grant. Picture below: Cat Lane
Above: A Mr X Stitch workshop/picture: Jamie Chalmers
Below: Standen House and Garden/picture: Richard Grudzinski
Above: Mr X Stitch’s ‘Gary just wants to be a real cow’/picture: Jamie Chalmers
Below: Mr X Stitch’s ‘SQRL’/picture: Jamie Chalmers
Above: ‘Xmas Love’ by Mr X Stitch/picture: Jamie Chalmers
Below: Mr X Stitch’s ‘You see food I see numbers’/picture: C Garfen
Above: a close-up of Mr X Stitch/picture: Christine Leech