eMbroidery – Richard Box

Welcome to eMbroidery, a series of interviews with male embroiderers. This month, Richard Box.

Richard Box - Poppies and Daisies - Fabric Collage with Machine and Hand Embroidery

Name: Richard Box

Location: Herefordshire, England

Main embroidery medium: Fabric Collage with machine and hand stitching

Richard Box - Autumn Trees - Fabric Collage with Machine and Hand Embroidery

Noteworthy projects or pieces: Commissions : Simon Jersey, Alton, Accrington, Lancashire 1980’s. Little Silver County Hotel, St. Michaels, Tenterden, Kent.1990’s and a large hanging for a private collector this year 2013.

How did you come to be an embroiderer? An illustrated talk was given by Mrs. Parker ( Constance Howard ) to all of us students on the A.T.C. ( Art Teachers Certificate ) course at Goldsmiths Art School in 1964. She encouraged us to try this discipline because, as art teachers, we needed to expand and extend our present knowledge. Most of us had a go……… I STAYED !

What does it mean to you? It is a discipline, like painting, where I can express my responses to the world around me . Unlike painting, it has its own UNIQUE qualities; it does not REPLACE painting. I still paint, by the way,or rather, along the way. Both disciplines are reciprocal.

Richard Box - The Leveret - Fabric Collage with Machine and Hand Embroidery

Where do you like to work? At home.

How do people respond to you as a male embroiderer? ‘ That’s unusual to see a man sittin’ behind a sewing machine, in’it ? ‘

Who inspires you? Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Painters e.g. Monet, Cezanne, Seurat. Only three embroiderers, [shockingly ], { Now I’ve lost all my embroidering acquaintances’ Christmas cards !! }

One was a collage, full of giant sequins, in the form of baked bean tin lids, on carrot bags and sacking, shown on slide in Mrs. Parkers talk in 1964.

Another is, or rather are, the MOST AMAZING, and MOST EXQUISITE and the MOST BEAUTIFUL’ Nut Purses ‘ formed, composed and stitched in the reformed, developed Elizabethan / Jacobean manner around wall-nut shells. It is not only the form nor content, that is inspiring……..however much it is indeed……… rather, the enthusiasm, commitment by Maureen King, one of our un-sung heroines of embroideresses.

The third is Phoebe Anna Traquair.

Richard Box - Daisies - Fabric Collage with Machine and Hand Embroidery

Are your current images new ones or have you used them before? Some of the images are the same, others are new. I find it interesting and, eventually, irritating that ‘ Supposedly Craft people ‘, ( as distinct from ‘ Art people ‘ ) always ask, ‘ have you anything NEW ? ‘ or ‘ DIFFERENT ‘ generally looking, superficially, at subject matter, rather than content. No-one ( I hope !! ) asked Monet, after 30 years of painting waterlilies such a silly, and somewhat insulting question. I hope, like he, and all other artists, respond to the same subject in various and different ways. This results in various and different responses and, consequently, different resulting , content and forms.

How has your life shaped or influenced your work? I try NOT to let the troubles in my life affect my responses to the subjects that inspire me. I try to preserve my positive attitude to the wonders of Nature…….flowers, meadows, animals, trees, landscapes. I know many artists ( painters ) and artists ( textile ) express social and political views. Thank Goodness too ! Art is essentially a vehicle of and for expression. I, however, am not a political activist. My role in life is to give people joy and happiness. This is why I am not ‘ FAMOUS ‘ like Jan Beaney, Jean Littlejohn, Michael Brennand-Wood and Alice Kettle et al forever in the news and public eye. ( By the way, I don’t mind at all. I’m not pressured. I can even watch afternoon television all day, if I want to !! )

Do you have any secrets in your work you will tell us? None. Education is not a secret.

Richard Box - The Meadow - Fabric Collage with Machine and Hand Embroidery

A questioned asked at EVERY craft fair at which I demonstrate, that shows a lamentable ignorance of the creative mind is the ‘ EITHER OR ‘ ……..’ Do you make it up as you go along or have you something in your head ? ‘ My reply is…… indicating to a picture which as acting as my source on the table…….. ‘ I’m an air-head. I have nothing in my head because I need to SEE the image in front of me. I move with it when my mind moves with it…….’ Surprise, surprise ! The questioner, bar one, has moved on before I finished speaking. Here comes the reward ! The one who has stayed, is interested and asks intelligent questions. That’s why I keep demonstrating and teaching.

How do you hope history treats your work ? I shall be dead. I won’t care then. if I’ve been useful now as an artist and as a teacher then it may continue for a while perhaps so, perhaps not ……………..Interesting question… You have opinions about legacy, after-life, posterity and all that stuff. No problem. I do not seek immortality.

Where can we find you and your work? On the Net – www.RichardBox.co.uk


eMbroidery was created with the support and wisdom of the magnificent Bascom Hogue.

If you are, or know of, a male embroiderer that we should interview as part of this series, contact us!