Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Kantha workshop with Lynn Setterington

I often check out Selvedge Magazine website as they have the most amazing craft events on throughout the year. Before Christmas, I spotted a workshop in February with a long-time admired textile artist, Lynn Setterington, whose work I discovered at art college whilst studying in the late 1990s. It didn't take me any time at all to click a few buttons and book myself on the course as an early present to myself!

In addition to being a full-time artist, Lynn is a lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University too! Setterington's textiles focus on using a traditional stitching method known as Kantha. It originates from Bangladesh and was a way to re-purpose and prolong the life of textiles, for example, old sari materials would be layered together (like quilting) and then stitched using a series of repeated shapes, patterns and lines.

Lynn showed us examples of original Bangladeshi Kantha pieces which are so beautiful and full of character. Here is one example of the traditional Kantha and then a few photos of Lynn's work based on domestic tools and equipment to explore ideas of domesticity and feminism.

Traditional Kantha work from Bangladesh
Lynn Setterington's work of 'everyday objects'
Detail of Lynn Setterington's work 
Lynn Setterington's garden pliers
I spent about 6-hours with a lovely bunch of ladies in the most wonderful building called the Art Workers Guild at 6 Queen Square, London. I couldn't help but take some photos of the striking rooms that showcased beautiful Arts and Crafts style interiors. The Art Workers Guild was established in 1884 by a group of British architects and is still active today.

The chair seat covers were slightly different hues and shades which seem to have been inspired by the portraits
We played the game of 'find the female artist' from the overwhelming array of male artist portraits hanging in the grand hall. We did find a few ladies who were more contemporary artists. All hung portraits are members of the Art Workers Guild.

The work I produced during the workshop was essentially a sampler of the different Kantha stitches. They are typically based on a running stitch and are worked in a linear fashion. You can see some experiments below and the emerging focus on an object which was my trusty orange-handled Fiskars fabric scissors.

I find hand-embroidery very calming and soothing. It is a very portable hobby as you can sew almost anywhere without much equipment.
Overall, I had an amazing day learning from a fantastic textile artist who inspired me as an art student in the 1990s and again, 25 years later!


  1. Looks like a lovely day :) I agree that hand embroidery is very calming and soothing. How many layers were you stitching through for this piece?

    1. Hi Alex, I was sewing through 3 layers of fine Egyptian cotton - its actually a very old duvet cover that has also been used as a DIY decorating dust sheet and now a bit of it has been embroidered!