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Alison Liley’s Book of Embroidery – A Fresh Approach from 1964.

June 13, 2014


Alison Liley, born on 13th June 1929 was the daughter of two RCA graduates, her father had been trained as a painter and her mother as a bookbinder and embroiderer by Mrs Christie.

Having left her father’s art school in the North of England Alison joined Bromley school of Art to begin a qualification in embroidery. The staff of the department were at the time involved with the Needlework Development Scheme and this also became a part of Alison’s experience. From Bromley, Alison left for Denmark to study embroidery returning to a part time job in the Art School system at Canterbury. Years of teaching and travel followed, plus a marriage, children and the production of two books of embroidery technique and design. During the same period Alison started the department of embroidery at Loughborough School of Art and the idea for an exhibiting group followed. In 1962 Alison, with a small group of her fellow artists founded the very successful ‘62 Group of Textile Artists‘. In 1964 she published ‘Embroidery – A Fresh Approach’ and I came across this book recently which sparked this post. I don’t often buy embroidery books but I really liked the sixties feel to her illustrations. I thought I’d share a selection of them with you.

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Tons of patterns and floral inspiration here.

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Alison has a wonderfully free style and her ideas spring off the page with a lively quality.

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She experiments with different mark making exercises.

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Some figurative studies. This mermaid is wonderful, is she a giant with a host of tiny sailing vessels beneath her ?

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More considerations of drawing styles and techniques. The book covers so many areas, it’s not simply about Embroidery.

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Roses and designs from roses. Detailed studies encourage more ideas for alternative ways of illustrating.

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There’s plenty more in the book ranging from Birds, botanical cell structures and animals too. It’s well worth grabbing yourself a copy.

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Alison decided to join her husband in Ireland and eventually moved to her house in County Clare. Here a new career developed in the making and selling of Irish Crafts, (like the piece below.) Wonderful illustrations and a great inspiration to us all. 


4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 13, 2014 8:58 am

    This work is simply beautifully exquisite!!!

  2. June 18, 2014 1:53 pm

    Can’t get to your Lucy Davey page… says, “Page not found”??

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