Susan Canfield

Susan Canfield was born in London and now lives in Suffolk. Her interest in textiles was initiated in secondary school by an excellent needlework teacher and the Needlework Development Scheme, Glasgow. She trained as a primary school teacher in Nottinghamshire and taught for seventeen years, developing textile work in the classroom during that time. After giving up a deputy headship to pursue her interest in creative embroidery, Susan enrolled for the City & Guilds Creative Studies course at Cambridge, completing parts I and II in 1992 and 1994 respectively. A year later she became a founder member of EAST, of which she is currently treasurer. She exhibits with EAST and works to commission. Her textile artwork has now found its way into homes from Braintree in Essex, to Preston, Lancashire and the Isle of Mull. She had a cushion selected by the Embroiderers’ Guild for auction at Phillips, New Bond Street in December 2000.

Although Susan’s work in the last fifteen years has taken a wide variety of forms, more recently the majority of it has been three-dimensional. Some of her pieces have been elaborate constructions, which have taken their inspiration from a wide variety of sources, including Maori ketes (bags woven from the New Zealand flax plant), the Sutton Hoo grave goods, and silver birch trees. In each new piece of work, she endeavours to explore further possibilities for fabric construction and to extend the medium in new and unexpected ways. A principal technique employed has been “free” machine embroidery, which is used to create a variety of textures, further worked with hand stitching.


For the 2012/13 exhibition, “Making a Point”, I wish to highlight some of the British artists, designers and writers who were prominent in the nineteen-thirties. This period is examined in a book by Alexandra Harris entitled “Romantic Moderns” which won the Guardian First Book Award in 2010. I heard Alexandra Harris speak, very eloquently, at the Cheltenham Literature Festival that year and both her talk and book sent me back to research further Edward Bawden and his contemporaries.” For more information about ...the diamonds of the dust heap click HERE.


The research for my work in Between the Lines (2014/15) led me to study The Waste Land by T.S.Eliot and Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain, to investigate how the artists Paul Nash and Stanley Spencer depicted their wartime experience, and to read the unpublished memoir of a Lance Corporal in the 1st Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment who served on the Western Front from the outbreak of the war until his death on the Somme. For more infomation click HERE

In the Autumn of 2014, as I began to work on ideas for Following a Thread, there was an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery focusing on the life of Virginia Woolf. Four years earlier I had read To the Lighthouse (pub. 1929) because I wanted to reflect the British coastline as part of ....the diamonds in the dustheap (Making a Point 2012).


Amongst the promotional material for the exhibition at the N.P.G. was a photograph of Virginia Woolf with T.S.Eliot. The Waste Land by Eliot had been a major inspiration for me when I worked on E.A.S.T. 's World War I exhibition, Between the Lines (2014).


Therefore, with Virginia Woolf in mind, I began Following a Thread click HERE



My mini-art for Following a Thread

A detail from Death by Water,

Part IV of The Waste Land


Detail from a cushion which was part of EAST at the Warner Textile Archive exhibition.


The images above are from

"...the diamonds of the dust heap".


The second page from the exhibit To Abi (2010) based on the Shakespeare text

Seven Ages of Man.


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