Book review: Textile Nature 2016 by Anne Kelly

Book review: Textile Nature 2016 by Anne Kelly

There are many textile artists who are drawn to nature as a source of inspiration. In this book, Anne Kelly introduces us to a selection of some of those wonderful artists, makers and collaborative groups who reference the natural world in their work. From the first page the message is immediate; just step outside your door and look with fresh eyes upon what is all around you.

Anne tells us how she, herself, looks at and interprets nature through drawing, and how she uses a nature table in her studio. This informative guide demonstrates how to get the most out of your own surroundings to create original and unique pieces in textiles.  As you would expect from Batsford this book has a tactile cover and is beautifully illustrated throughout its 128 pages.

What’s in the book – Chapter by Chapter

Chapter 1

In chapter one, we take a look inside Anne’s studio at her contemporary version of a nature table. Seasonal flowers and plants compiled by Anne act as inspiration for her work. The collected objects with which she surrounds herself, spark ideas which generate and enhance her creativity.

Observation from life and drawing play an important part in Anne’s practice. Looking at just one plant Anne guides the reader through different ways to interpret their own observations using stitch, print, dyes and weaving techniques. There are plenty of examples of work to illustrate the different techniques mentioned from well known contemporary artists working in this field.

Chapter 2

The second chapter is called ‘Planting in Cloth’ and takes a look at outlines and silhouettes, and the many ways that various artists, including Anne herself, have made use of flowers, leaves and leaf shapes in their work. In this chapter, we catch a glimpse of how Anne’s own inspiration, which is drawn from mid-century textiles, folk art, and vintage design, floral collage, vintage books and herbals, helps to shape her work.

The techniques covered in this chapter include transfers and collage, stencils, pattern, print and dying with natural plant dyes. Work shown as example includes practitioners who look directly at plants and plant shapes, and artists who have taken a step closer to nature by working with plant material itself.

Chapter 3

Chapter three looks at the whole gamut of techniques used to create birds and insects. These are increasingly popular subjects for contemporary textile artists. Anne shows us a selection of small folding books and brooches she has made over a number of years and looks at the some of the techniques she has used to make them and as a bonus there are instructions in chapter four on how to make a folding book yourself.

Again there are plenty of examples of work in a variety of styles from the huge array of artists who take their inspiration from birds and insects. Techniques range from embroidered works and book forms to constructions and sculpture and there are full instructions from artist Suzette Smart on how to make a 3D bird.

Chapter 4

Chapter four is entitled ‘Working in Green Spaces’. Many artists take on residencies during their careers and during these produce work which varies from small stitched textiles to large scale installations. In this chapter, Anne tells us about some of her own and other artist’s experiences of working as Artist-in-Residence in garden spaces in the UK.

She also advises on how to make the most of your own local environment and resources, to help you to develop your own work.

Chapter 5

Chapter five ‘ Nature in Context’ examines how some artists use nature and natural imagery to make statements about matters that concern them; social issues such as women’s suffrage, feminism, and family history, and examines how inspiration for your own work can be found in historical collections such as the Goldsmiths Textile collection. The chapter concludes by looking at working whilst travelling to other parts of the world and ways to record what you find there.

Who is it for?

Both the enthusiastic beginner and those with more experience will find this book is cram packed full of ideas, and techniques to explore. It is suitable for anyone with an interest in the natural world  who would like to develop their interest and incorporate their observations into textiles. You can be confident that if you buy this that you will have great reference book which combines inspiration with clear, well thought out, instruction.

Product details Textile Nature 2016 by Anne Kelly

Published by Batsford – 128-page full colour illustrated hardback book.

ISBN 978-1-84994-343-7

Product Dimensions: 27.9 x 22.4 x 1.5 cm

Book review by Sue Stone

Anne Kelly is a textile artist and tutor. She trained in Canada and the UK and now teaches and speaks to guilds and groups. Her work is exhibited widely in solo and group exhibitions, including private collections in the UK and abroad, the Vatican Collection in Rome and at the textile Museum of Canada in Toronto. She was recently artist-in-residence at Sussex Prairies Garden in West Sussex and exhibited at the international World of Threads Festival and the Prague Patchwork Meeting. She is co-author of Connected Cloth, also published by Batsford.

For more information visit:

Which other textile books inspire you? Leave a comment below to let us know.

Thursday 23rd, March 2023 / 22:06

About the author

View all articles by Sue



Share in the creative secrets of the world's most celebrated embroidery artists.

And discover how to create breathtaking art with textiles and stitch.

All Inspiration. No Spam.

Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter

4 comments on “Book review: Textile Nature 2016 by Anne Kelly”

  1. Leisa Rich says:

    Ity was a fantastic and easy experience working with Anne and I am so pleased to be included! Much good wishes for a successful run of this great book!

  2. I leafed through Anne’s website to get a better idea of what her work is about, but I was really disappointed by the low resolution of her images. I’m sure that the book will have beautiful photos, but I would suggest that the website might want some focusing. The works seems lovely!

  3. Anne Kelly says:

    Hi Laura – thanks for your kind remarks about my work and comments about my website – I have two – is an archive site and some of the images are lower res to accommodate the volume of images for a reference site. My newer mobile site has mainly higher res images although fewer of them for that reason http://www.annekellyartist,net.
    I hope this helps! Very best wishes, Anne

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Hello and welcome to is a place for textile artists and art enthusiasts to be inspired, learn from the best, promote their work and communicate with like-minded creatives.



Share in the creative secrets of the world's most celebrated embroidery artists.

And discover how to create breathtaking art with textiles and stitch.

All Inspiration. No Spam.

Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter

What the artists say

" is an invaluable resource. I am constantly sending students there and sharing it with other practitioners".

Nigel Cheney
Lecturer in Embroidered Textiles at NCAD

"The beauty of is that whenever you visit you'll discover something that you didn't already know".

Rachel Parker
Textile Study Group Graduate of the year 2012

" gives contemporary textile practice a voice; leading artists, useful guides and a forum for textiles".

Cas Holmes
Textile Artist and teacher

"This website is exactly what we need in the textiles world. A fantastic inspirational resource".

Carol Naylor
Textile and Embroidery Artist

  Get updates from via RSS or Email

Most Viewed