A quarter of a century – and then some

Carol with her book of thank yous

In 1995, EAST was born and in 2020 we panned to celebrate our 25th anniversary. Of course we all know what happened in 2020! So it may be a year on but we did recently celebrate, albeit a year late and in perhaps a little more subdued fashion that we might have done if life had returned to a bit more pre-covid conditions.

The group was the idea of Carol Dixon, who although no longer an active member, joined us for the day – along with a some other ex-EASTies. As a special tribute current and past members created a postcard sized piece of work which was put together in a gift book (thanks to Susan) and presented to Carol on the day. Anthea Godfrey, who has always been the group’s mentor, contributed a stunning piece of or nue work – a technique that dates back to at least the medieval period but here done in a contemporary style.

Page by Anthea Godfrey – a stunning piece of or nue work

Earlier in the year myself and Susan had in fact been asked to talk about the group and its activities to the Billericay branch of the Essex Handicrafts Association (EHA) and it gave us a chance to reflect on the groups many activities, including its regular exhibitions:

  • In 1997 the group’s first exhibition was Icons and opened at Braintree District Museum.
  • In 1999 the group returned to Braintree with Tales of Another Place but were also given space at the prestigious Knitting and Stitching Shows at Alexandra Palace, London and Harrogate in Yorkshire.
  • In 2000, a millennial grant allowed the group to produce an extra body of work, Threads of Time based on the town of Braintree and items in the museum’s collection.
  • 2002 saw the group present Take 11 – at that time there were eleven members of the group.
  • The next exhibition was in 2004 (continuing into 2006) and was called Spirit of the Cloth. This was the first exhibition I was involved with as a member. As well as Braintree Museum and the Knitting and Stitching Shows at London and Harrogate, the group travelled to Snape in Suffolk and the Manor House Museum in Bury St Edmunds.
  • The exhibition title for 2005-07 was Stitched Up! The group took this exhibition to the Voirrey Embroidery Centre, Wirral.
  • A slightly longer gap before the next exhibition in 2008 which was EAST 13 – the group were now celebrating its thirteenth year.
  • However we were also preparing for Warner @ The Textile Archive where we produced work based on the archives of the Warner Collection. This went on display at the Knitting and Stitching Shows in 2009. It is now part of the archive and is used as an educational tool.
  • Talking Textiles was the next exhibition in 2010 – and probably our biggest tour ever. Venues included Braintree District Museum in Essex, Farfield Mill in Cumbria, Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, Nuneaton and Bedworth Museum in Warwickshire and the Pond Gallery at Snape in Suffolk.
  • In 2012, Making a Point had a much smaller run. We still visited Braintree Museum and Snape Maltings in Suffolk but also found another new venue at the Corinium Museum in Cirencester.
  • I think many of the group will consider our 2014 exhibition as particularly poignant. Our starting point was the 1914-18 conflict and Between the Lines opened at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace in London. Our now regular venues at Harrogate, Snape Maltings and Braintree Museum were added to with a return trip to the Corinium Museum at Cirencester and another new venue the Landmark Arts Centre at Teddington – probably the largest venue we have ever exhibited in. At Cirencester we had another first when the group were featured on justhands-on TV.
  • In 2017 we took Following a Thread to Braintree and Snape.
  • In 2019 we returned to Braintree and Snape again with Power of Stitch.
  • And finally, in 2021 our latest exhibition, Transformation began at another new venue, RHS Hyde Hall Gardens in Essex. This exhibition will travel again and updates of where and when will appear on our website in due course. Stay in touch by signing up to our mailing list to be the first to know where and when.

So here’s to our next 25 years – and thank you Carol.

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