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Kate Wells

Land, Sky and Gold


Embroidery is at the heart of Kate Wells' work, showcasing her love of line whether drawn, painted, or stitched. Her embroidery transcends traditional media, incorporating thread, needle, textures, and softer surfaces like silk, cotton fabrics, and metallic threads. Besides textile art, Kate works with charcoal, graphite, pastel, ink, pen, brush, watercolour, gouache, and acrylic. Drawing has always anchored her creative process, seamlessly connecting her paper arts and embroidery.


“Land, Sky and Gold” describes Kate Wells’ returning subjects in her practice as an artist in embroidery from her studio on the outskirts of Sheffield, close to the moors and dales of the Peak District, where she has lived and worked for over 40 years. 


Most of her embroidery work today involves using a nearly 100-year-old Singer Industrial ‘Irish’ sewing machine. Designed for early free-machine embroidery, it features a knee lever that adjusts zig-zag stitch width up to 12mm, allowing both hands to guide the work in a large hoop. By adjusting the tension, Kate can create interesting effects and colour mixes by bringing the lower thread to the surface. When her tutor Judy Barry introduced her to the machine at MMU, Judy's advice to "put your foot down and just go with it" overrode any fears about the speed and danger of the bare needle. Focusing on the needle's point is crucial. Since her studies, the machine has become an ideal tool for her expression.


At the start of her career, Kate taught at The Glasgow School of Art for six years, encouraged by her tutor Anne Morrell in Manchester. Here, the connection between painting and stitch truly came together, along with the process of learning and teaching.


Her themed sketchbooks are personal diaries of projects, exploring colours and composition while including detailed notes on methods, thread-colours, and framing. They contain visual conversations, gestural memories, flights of birds.


Many of Kate’s projects are made to commission, some for public spaces, others for private collectors, and sometimes for the church. Since her training at Loughborough College of Art and Design (BA) and then MA at Manchester Polytechnic (now MMU), a realization that embroidery could be brave and glorious has sustained her practice.


Belonging to the 62 Group of Textile Artists allowed Kate to exhibit in adventurous locations, including Japan. Following the 'British Needlework' exhibition in the early 1980s, the Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto purchased two of her embroideries. Kate also has work in the Diana Springall Collection which is the most significant body of contemporary embroidered work. 

Kate is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts. (FRSA)


In all aspects of her practice, Kate seeks beauty without sentimentality, focusing on elements like line and balance, whether in wild nature or controlled design.


“Embroidery, like drawing can be a slow process, and having been inspired at the start, the initial thrill of the work needs patience and endurance to see it through over many weeks and months.” 

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