I started the City & Guilds diploma training course in October 2011 – once again in Great Missenden and luckily once again with the excellent teacher Janet Edmonds. Here I will publish pictures from the diploma training. The entire first year’s motto was:

With the needle around the world

The subject was to engage in the embroidery techniques of a few selected countries, with the individual country merely being the starting point for the design process. Nobody knows where this design process will lead. Things don’t have to stay “Indian”, for example, even if the design source originated in India; they can take a different course into completely different regions, because design – as I have said earlier – is like a stroll along a river.

Nevertheless I tried to apply Indian embroidery techniques, embellishments (e.g. shishas) and silk threads for the Indian design, and rather rough fabrics, natural materials and archaic threads for the African design.

The design source for the Indian pieces was an embroidered toran from Gujarat. The design source for the African embroidery was a hand-printed fabric from Simbabwe, which was copied in fragments (following certain guidelines), the drawings were used to create stamps made of potatoes and string. After that collages were printed, the prints additionally colored, bleached and much more, so that many different, entirely new pictures were created from the original fabric.

For the subject of Guatemala fabrics and papers were batik dyed and assembled in strips. Navajo Indian sand pictures were the starting point for the subject of North America. Thus we created artistic work around six regions of the world on six week-ends. Additionally, each of us had to pick three more countries and produce detailed studies on those. Based on photographs, drawings and stitched samples a region of the country in question, where a certain embroidery technique is traditionally practiced, was to be introduced. I selected: a) Turkey/Anatolia (Marasch Ischi), b) India/Rajasthan (Shishadur) and c) Germany/Hesse (Schwälmer color embroidery). Pictures will follow.

Tanzende Afrikaner

Dancing africans, designed by Chidi Okeke-Bramesfeld

The second and third year’s emphasis were on metal embroidery and on the history of the English art of embroidery. Your own designs were already supposed to fit in with the final subject of your diploma, in my case writing and lettering. In the remaining course of the diploma training we were asked to further specialize within our subject matter. For this I chose the Gutenberg Bible and the Arnstein Bible, as the latter was written in a monastery where part of my ancestral lineage originates from. The Arnstein Bible was written in the monastery of Arnstein an der Lahn in the year 1170 and came to London in the 18th century. For two days I had the wonderful opportunity to page through the original bible front to back in the British Library, looking at everything in minute detail and creating drawings.