Fire up your imagination!
Just click on the thistle picture to download the design and start stitching this new challenge which will be presented as part of our national biennial exhibition in Dunedin in 2024.
Imagine a wall covered in a myriad of different interpretations of this design – all gorgeously stitched in every colour of the rainbow, in every embroidery technique – limited only by the embroiderer’s imagination.
This thistle design by Evan Lewis, an Auckland artist and writer, has been especially chosen for ANZEG’s 50th anniversary in Dunedin in July 2024 to celebrate the city’s depth of Scottish history and will be part of the biennial conference exhibition held in the Otago Art Society’s gallery in the Dunedin Railway Station.
The design is purposely simplified to give embroiderers a free hand to create something new and exciting.
Te Wero Tuia – The Embroidery Challenge has been introduced specifically to encourage new embroiderers who are not confident in their design skills.
Anyone wishing to enter can treat the design in any way they choose and it will be judged purely on stitch technique and colour.
The only other criteria for this are that the embroidery be mounted on an unframed board or canvas with the maximum dimensions of 230x300x40mm – which is a standard sized canvas – with a suitable hanging method and mailed in a postbag of the appropriate size. This is to help keep mounting and postage affordable.
So what are you waiting for? If you have never entered an exhibition before because you weren’t confident about your design skills but you love to create with colour and stitch, then Te Wero Tuia is for you!
Meet the man behind the design:
The artist behind the design for Te Wero Tuia: The Embroidery Challenge is Evan Lewis and by the time this story appears in Threads, Evan should have another book to his credit: ‘A Garden of Curiosities’ – a collection of his beautiful designs subtitled ‘Renaissance-inspired Designs for Contemporary Crafting’ which was to be launched for sale at this year’s The Great Escape in Orewa.
Just how Evan came to be designing for ANZEG is down to Helensville embroiderer Jo Dixey who thought his work might be ideal for Te Wero Tuia. Jo has stitched a number of his designs already.
A friend and I visited Evan in Auckland to interview him for Threads and we had a most entertaining day, looking at his huge collection of designs, some of his beautiful calligraphy and gorgeously coloured Pysanky eggs and being treated to tea and cake and a sneak preview of his book.
Afterwards Evan sent me his biography which tells his story (and hopefully gives you an idea of his delightfully quirky personality) far better than I could. He wrote:
Evan Lewis is a jack of various trades. Born in London in May 1969 to New Zealand parents, he came home to Auckland’s North Shore at five months old and has lived in Torbay most of his 53 years.
Evan showed an interest in visual arts at an early age and this was fostered by a number of highly creative family members and some very generous teachers. In 1982 he won a Gold Award at an Annual International Children’s Art competition held in Taiwan.
After a few false starts Evan graduated from Auckland University in 2000 with a Master of Arts degree majoring in Art History. During his studies, he found work in the Archive of the Anglican Diocese of Auckland, which position eventually led him to become Archivist at Diocesan School for Girls and Dilworth School.
Recognising an interest in lettering, Evan’s father gave him calligraphy nibs on his 13th birthday and he slowly began to teach himself not just the formation of gothic letters but the craft of designing and executing the illuminated page. He has exhibited once or twice with the NZ Calligraphers Guild and held his first solo exhibition in December 2008.
Evan is also a capable if unenthusiastic gardener, a maker or rather a ‘writer’ of Pysanky (Ukrainian Easter Eggs), as well as being a published author with a first small book of poetry published in 2017 and a terrible book about gardening (‘Confessions of a Reluctant Gardener’) published together with illustrations by the author later in December 2019.
Since intermediate school days until her last years in 2008-09 he has drawn designs for his craftswoman mother to interpret in various media, and in the years since her death he has taken up her suggestion and created a range of embroidery/craft designs inspired by the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods.
He lives in his old family home with a cat, and an overdraft, and is notorious for not clearing his voicemail.
Stories and photos by Felicity Willis
Republished here from Threads magazine #86, April 2023.