Royal Visit

Demonstration of Chinese silk embroidery

The Royal School of Needlework (RSN) at Hampton Court Palace in England has been dedicated to teaching, practicing, and promoting the art of hand embroidery for over 140 years. The school welcomes over 1,000 students from all over the world to its classes, offering hand-embroidery courses for all levels, conservation, restoration, and repair of antique embroideries. It also accepts new commissions through its Embroidery Studio.

Susan Kay-Williams with the Regional Minister of Culture

In December 2013, RSN Chief Executive Dr. Susan Kay-Williams was invited to China as a guest speaker at the First International Conference on Chinese Intangible Heritage (Embroidery) held in Guangzhou. Susan writes of her experience, “This was a fascinating event with lots of panoply for the opening ceremony, at which I was asked to speak. Fortunately I’d been given ten minutes’ notice so I could prepare a few thoughts, a little difficult to put together when you have to pause for each sentence to be translated! My session was to present a mini-case study of the RSN’s development. It was about maintaining tradition yet moving the organisation and stitch outcomes forward. The audience included what was the largest-ever gathering of embroidery Grand Masters and there was an accompanying exhibition showing the variety and range of Chinese embroidery.”

Alms purse embroidered for PieceWork’s 20th anniversary issue (September/October 2013) by Becky Quine, a student at the Royal School of Needlework.

Susan will now be talking to a number of people in the United Kingdom about the possibility of a future exhibition of Chinese embroidery.

PieceWork has enjoyed the privilege of working with the Royal School of Needlework on several articles and projects over the years. We loved learning about Susan’s visit to China and applaud her work in both maintaining tradition and taking needlework forward into the 21st century.