Royal School of Needlework – Kate Barlow’s Budgerigar


Royal School of Needlework

Royal School of Needlework student’s hand embroidery achieves art-world acclaim as one of the exhibits at this year’s London Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

Kate Barlow 'Smuggler' Silk Shaded Embroidery

Selected from over 12,000  entries and displayed in the Summer Exhibition’s Mixed Media Category, successful Royal School of Needlework Future Tutor Kate Barlow has hand-stitched a life-like budgerigar, using 50 shades of thread, worked one strand at a time, to create a stunning embroidery using a traditional technique called silk shading.

Kate Barlow 'Smuggler' Silk Shaded Embroidery

Using a tiny needle to help create the highly-skilled ‘painting with a needle’ effect, the bird’s delicate feathers have been reproduced in an amazing ‘selfie-like’ representation of this budgerigar’s head.  Called ‘Smuggler’, the piece measures just 10cm high by 8cm wide and took 140 hours to complete.  ‘Smuggler’ is set against this year’s on-trend hot pink neon silk fabric background and is sure to draw the crowds.

Kate Barlow 'Smuggler' Silk Shaded Embroidery

Kate Barlow says “I wanted ‘Smuggler’ to have a humorous, contemporary feeling, and so I offset the blue of the feathers against a hot pink neon silk background.  Being selected for the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition means so much. It proves that hand embroidery can be judged on a par with other fine art techniques, and I’m thrilled that the Academy deemed him good enough.”

Kate Barlow 'Smuggler' Silk Shaded Embroidery

Kate Barlow is a second year student on the Royal School of Needlework’s (RSN) Future Tutor Programme.  When she graduates she will be qualified to teach for the RSN.  Originally from North Wales, Kate has a degree in theatre costume from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff.  Kate worked as a wardrobe assistant at the Welsh National Opera before making the career-change to hand embroidery.

Kate Barlow 'Smuggler' Silk Shaded Embroidery

Dr Susan Kay-Williams, Chief Executive of the Royal School of Needlework says, “Kate’s achievement reminds us of our earliest days when our founder Lady Welby stated that she wanted to see high quality hand embroidery in galleries along-side fine art.  It is a great achievement to be included in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.


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