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CETG Meeting on Monday 8th April 2019

Our Speaker – Mary Gamester

Her Subject – Textile Travel Adventures


Here is an overview of Mary's talk on the night, along with some photos of the textiles on show.


Mary was thanked by our chairman, Liz, for stepping in to talk to us following our planned speaker’s cancellation this month.


Mary began her talk by saying how fortunate she is to be able to go travelling which is obviously one of her great passions. Her most recent trip has been to Vietnam and Cambodia – but that will be another talk!


The countries she focussed on this evening were Uzbekistan and India with a hint of Vienna.




Her trip to Uzbekistan was organised in Canada and was a part textiles and part archaeological holiday.


She visited many places including a silk weaving mill where she got carried away and bought lengths of fabric, braids to match, silk scarves and bags.  Mary also managed to watch how silk is extracted from the cocoons and how velvet is made.


There were many wonderful museums to see with paintings both traditional and modern.  Under the Russian occupation, painting was only allowed if portraying images from life - no modern abstract work was permitted although some people continued this in secret.  One of the museums held a collection of some of this modern and traditional artwork.


Mary showed us an array of textiles that she brought back, including a Suzani (an embroidered textile) which depicted flowers all in delicate chain stitch, with birds and animals hidden within the design.


Each design has a meaning: Bird = happiness, Teapot = hospitality etc.


The markets were fabulous, and Mary showed us other items: bags, including a “tourist” bag with 2 zips, a necklace made from seeds, books made from handmade mulberry paper, notecards, cards and envelopes.


Tiles were magnificent and have inspired Mary in her work since.  She displayed a wall hanging made using transfer printing using the tiles design and also pomegranates (from the Suzani work).


Mary also showed us puppets which were sold as a pair – a prince and princess – in a loosely prairie pointed bag.  Scissors in the shape of a hen and cockerel were lovely – the maker had actually exhibited at Art in Action previously!  There was a metal stencil which is used in goldwork and left in the embroidery when finished.  Mary has used this in her own pieces too.


Mary modelled a few of her trademark waistcoats/gilets – Uzbekistan inspired and very colourful. She loves colour and this is evident in all of her own work.  One gilet has a very 70s design and had trousers to match and was once remarked upon by Zandra Rhodes who called it “Summer of Love”!




Mary has travelled to India six times and loves it there.  She has been there once with Elsie and once with Valerie.


She displayed a beautiful heavily embroidered jacket, all chain stitch.  The colours are more muted than Mary usually wears so next time she would choose one with more colour.


She showed bags made from sari fabrics, one of which still sheds sand!  Other tourist-like pieces were a parasol/umbrella, brightly coloured, and embroidered slippers.  She bought bundles of pre-cut fabrics at about £1 a bundle and has made a bag from them which she has taken on her travels to Vietnam.


She has been on a block printing trip to Jaipur with Colouricious and has watched many techniques including Dabu printing – using mud as a resist -  and has also watched wood blocks being carved in a museum.  Tie-dying is another technique that she had some beautiful examples of.




Mary is inspired by Hundertwasser and used this as inspiration at a Missenden Abbey Summer School.  In Vienna she found mainly Klimt works but eventually discovered the Hundertwasser museum in the end!


It’s difficult to put into words the amount of beautiful textile pieces that Mary showed us – such a wonderful array of delicately embroidered and printed pieces, from both her travels and her own work.


Mary’s passion for travel to these countries is obvious and listening to her amusing tales of happenings along the way made it a very enjoyable evening!

All photos © Liz Smith / text © Tina Leslau

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