Top 5 UK textile art groups
The textile art scene in the UK is thriving! The form is constantly evolving and embracing evermore diverse takes on traditional techniques; contemporary artists are consistently pushing boundaries both conceptually and creatively.
Being part of a group of textile artists offers several advantages to many such innovators; support, inspiration, motivation, as well as more practical benefits like exposure for their work and being part of group exhibitions. Today we take a look at 5 of the top textile art groups operating in the UK.
Prism – Textile Inspired Art
Prism has exhibited yearly in London since it was founded in 1999 by the late Julia Caprara. This group of artists, which includes TextileArtist.org interviews Yumiko Reynolds and Molly Williams, seeks to challenge notions of textiles as domestic, homely and purely decorative, a mission very much in line with our own.
Through creating work that stretches the preconceptions of what fiber art is and showcasing the vast range of techniques and materials being embraced by artists working in mixed media textiles, Prism artists have made a name for themselves as thought-leaders in this field.
Although the group is diverse in terms of the mediums in which they work, the practitioners share the common goal of striving for excellence in the field of fine art textiles and craftsmanship.
62 Group of Textile Artists
When we launched TextileArtist.org in late 2012, it was with a series of interviews with members of this prolific group of artists. The 62 Group aims to challenge the limits of textile practice through innovation and ambition.
The group is one of the most prestigious in the world, having been established in 1962 by a small number of embroidery lecturers and recent graduates who met regularly to exchange ideas; they were determined that textiles receive wider acceptance as a legitimate medium in the context of fine art. This battle is still being fought today, although the 62 Group have made huge strides in this area and have been instrumental in the wider recognition of textile art.
Some of the most respected and renowned British artists have been members of the 62 Group, and more recently it has opened its doors to international applicants. They have kept the standard of their members consistently high, as artists undergo a rigorous selection procedure before by accepted into the group and then again when submitting work for group exhibitions.
They have around 60 exhibiting members at any one time and, in addition to this, there are currently 16 honorary members (distinguished names in the field of Textiles, such as gallery directors, curators, academics and business people).
Present members of the 62 Group featured on TextileArtist.org include:
Read our article about the 62 Group by ex-chairperson Jae Maries
Read our review of the 62 Group exhibition Small Talk
For more information visit 62Group.org.uk
Studio 21 Textile Artists
Bringing together an amalgamation of stitch and mixed media, the Studio 21 group of textile artists formed in 1997 with the goal of challenging and extending the boundaries of traditional techniques and expectations within the realm of textiles.
The group seeks to provide support for its members, whilst pushing their artistic limits. Studio 21 exhibits annually in order to promote the work of its members. A structured programme of design and inspirational workshops led by members and a series of ‘Open Studio’ days means that the group is constantly evolving, growing and heading in new directions.
A number of the artists in this group also work as teachers, lecturers and authors, and many are members of the Society of Designer Craftsmen. Here at TextileArtist.org we’ve been lucky enough to interview Studio 21 members Debbie Lyddon, Samantha Harvey, Dawn Thorne and Liz Heywood.
For more about the group visit Studio21TextileArt.co.uk
Art Textiles: Made in Britain
The newest of the groups featured in this article, Art Textiles: Made in Britain, was set up to promote the continuing development of textile art in the UK, with the secondary aim of supporting the British Quilt Museum and Gallery in York. Traditional and contemporary quilts are well-served by the Quilter’s Guild, but the founding members of this group feel that art quilts are yet to find their natural home in the UK, which instigated the formation of Art Textiles.
2014 sees the launch of a biennial exhibition by the group, which will take place at the renowned Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham. Because the members of the group come from a range of backgrounds and interpretative styles, the show promises to be varied and diverse.
Art Textiles member Cas Holmes has been a regular contributor to TextileArtist.org since it launched; articles by the artist include:
To find out more visit ArtTextilesMadeInBritain.co.uk
Phoenix Contemporary Textile Group
The Phoenix Contemporary Textile Group comprises artists working in a range of media, including cloth, stitch, felt, paint, dye and paper. The group was founded in 1992 and is based in Kingston-upon-Thames, where members meet monthly to discuss current projects and seek and offer inspiration, constructive criticism and advice.
The Phoenix Group encourages members to explore their own unique pathways to creation and express their individuality through their work. In part, this mission is a reaction against the modern world of mass production. The artists believe that by communicating and sharing their passion for textiles, they will highlight the versatility of the medium and promote interest in art created using a combination of traditional and contemporary techniques.
Members of the Phoenix Contemporary Textile Group featured on TextileArtist.org include Anne Biss and Lynne Butt.
For more information visit PhoenixContemporaryTextiles.com
If you’re part of a textile art group, what does it mean to you? Tell us all about it in the comments section below.
37 comments on “Top 5 UK textile art groups”
We are Scotland’s most prominent group of textile artists and have recently just presented a successful exhibition in Edinburgh. I have put links to our Facebook page and website above and here there is also a link to our Flickr page. Please get in touch for any further info.
Tiny niggle. Could you perhaps give Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn a line each…
Hi Shirley – we interviewed the artists together, which is why they share a link and a line.
I think the variety of stitch disciplines in each of the listed groups is what is so exciting.
When Art quilts, contemporary embroidery, inventive felt making, photography, mixed media with paper, metal and more, can all be a part of one exciting exhibition, we really should celebrate! Being a member of art textile groups that exhibit occasionally has always encouraged new directions and creative challenges for me, and I would always encourage others who love fibre and stitch to do the same.
For a few years Sandra Meech was a very active member of Connections Fibre Artists, Canada, and I hope we are one of the textile groups she is talking about !
Even living in the UK, with visits home to Canada, Sandra always had a piece ready for one of our shows and we made sure that a meeting of the group coincided with her visits …. we miss you, Sandra !
I agree, exhibiting with a group encourages growth.
I agree with Sandra Meech and would love to know more on exhibiting in UK from someone as well known as she is. What she has said above really hits the mark and makes for excitement just thinking about the possibilities
I’m part of slowmakers group, a mostly Norwich group of makers who meet monthly to discuss ideas, support each other in our practice and share our skills. We are also embarking on a year’s residency at Anteros Arts Foundation; this will give us greater opportunity to present what we do.
Hi Juliane…. I live on the Norfolk/ Suffolk boarder and so was interested to look at your website. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to exist, the link you give and google search proved fruitless…..Jennie
There is a textile group up here in Shetland called… wait for it! Text-Isles. They have done some very interesting work over the past few years and I am sure they would be interested to hear from other groups. (I am not a member, just a supporter.)
Just joined the network and wondered if there are any textile artists groups in West Yorkshire that I may be able to join or link up with?
Hi Kay, I believe the Ripp’n’Stitch group are based in West Yorkshire, they were involved in the Blood Bag Project (https://www.textileartist.org/raising-awareness-through-fabric-art-the-blood-bag-project/). Hannah Lamb (https://www.textileartist.org/hannah-lamb-interview-a-kind-of-gentle-presence/) is also in West Yorkshire so might be worth getting in touch.
Art Through Textiles is an exhibiting textile group based in Sheffield. Formed in 1983, we are a group of artists from Yorkshire, Derbyshire and the North Midlands, with a strong professional interest in promoting and developing textiles as an art form.
Members come from a variety of backgrounds with a common love of all textile skills as a means of creative expression and a wish to show, through our work, just how rich, lively and versatile textiles can be.
The work we produce makes use of all techniques and approaches. Good design, drawing to a high standard and close attention to detail and presentation are the hallmarks of the work we produce.
Art Through Textiles is one of the largest non-affiliated textile groups in the UK. Membership is currently 90 and we meet regularly to run a programme of talks and workshops led by members and invited artists and craftspeople. Members are regularly offered the opportunity to exhibit together. Meetings are always well attended, lively and informative.
The group has been responsible for creating strong, supportive friendships. Individual strengths are harnessed and creative confidence grows through regular support and critical friendship
Our main function is to promote Textiles as an art form by raising awareness through exhibitions and teaching. Other artists, galleries and the public hold the group and the work we produce in very high regard.
Art Through Textiles are currently exhibiting at Thoresby Gallery, Thoresby Park, Nr Ollerton, Nottinghamshire. NG22 9EP. Tuesday – Sunday 11 – 4 pm 5th – 31st May
Very interested in all the fine work. It makes me tremble. I live and work in Spain and have no contact with groups. I endeavour to ·stretch· myself and work at ideas I feel strongly about.I am almost 80 but hope to have another 10 years to develop. Will expect to return to the south of England in 3 years time. Best wishes to everyone Jo
Thank you for your comments Jo and it’s great to hear you’re so passionate about fine art. Perhaps when you return to England you’ll consider joining a group?
Inspired Fibre Art Stitch are a group of artist makers in North Wales who Work in a variety of media. Our work is often inspired by the local culture and landscape
It would be really interesting to see a follow-up article on the criteria used for selecting these particular groups.
And as others seem to be making use of the opportunity perhaps I could mention a relatively new group here in the North West – Etcetera which is a group composed of seven nationally and internationally exhibited textile artists based in Merseyside, Manchester and Yorkshire. Currently working together to a theme of ‘Transition’ they are keen to both promote and push the boundaries of textile art. http://www.stitchetcetera.com/
Hi there – thanks for letting us know about Etcetera – we’ll check it out. We’ve just published an article that follows up on criteria etc. Check it out here: https://www.textileartist.org/top-tips-for-applying-to-textile-art-groups/
Thanks for the comment.
Is there a journal or magazine? Do you have to be British to be a member?
I am a textile artist living in South Africa.
Any groups in South Wales?
Yes! A textile group called Itchy Fingers Textiles is based in Gorseinon Swansea. They meet twice weekly, exhibit yearly, and arrange monthly workshop led by texitile artist from throughout Brirain.
The Ebor group, based in York, and mentored by Hilary Bower are celebrating 20 years of exhibiting together this year.
Inspired Fibre Art Stitch are a group of artist – makers working in contemporary textiles and fine art . Our work is strongly influenced by the landscape and culture of North Wales. We have a current exhibition in Colwyn Bay Library and one opening in Qube Gallery, Oswestry in July.
Interesting article but I think it would have been more useful to refer to current exhibitions. For example, Prism has just exhibited at Hoxton Arches, this being their new venue now.
Can you mention somewhere on the site the Musuem of Carpet in Kidderminster which celebrates the fabric of the nation’s favourite floorcovering, a much-overlooked creative material of staggering beauty and design. With a fantastic archive of carpet samples, pattern books, inspirational drawings and design sheets dating back 150 years, it’s an overlooked resource for all creatives.
Thanks Joe and Daniel for these posts. When you live in a remote region of Australia, just seeing other peoples works can be extremely inspiring… Long live textile artists where ever they are. Well done Jo Dennison too.
Thank you for your comments Deb, We promise to continue to bring you exciting and inspirational interviews and articles wherever you are in the world!
Textile21 are a North West group of textile artists who aspire top be as great as the abover. We are currently exhibiting at World of Glass in St Helens. You can see our diverse range of work on Instagram using the hashtag #textile2. Would be nice to feature some of the smaller, growing (ambitious!) textile art groups maybe?
Are there any groups in Cornwall?
Are there any Wearable Art groups? My work is focused in this area and it’s excluded from most fine art textile categories.
I love to start the year by writing an ‘action plan’ where I set short, medium and long-term goals. As a way to move forward my personal textile work, I set myself a medium-term goal of joining a UK wide Textile Group with the specific aim of exhibiting further afield in the UK.good article
I am looking for a textile group or workshops in Staffordshire. Do you know of any, please.
An interesting post, as I had no ever heard of some of these ToP 5 Groups. I look forward to the follow up. Thank you .
I’d like to join a group and be involved with other textile artist
I am a mixed media text artist do you know of a group in the south Cheshire area?
It’s great to hear that there is a thriving textile arts community spread throughout the U.K. We are Textile21, http://www.textile21.Co.uk. The group is based in Greater Manchester, we formed in 200… This year is our 20th anniversary. We have exhibited throughout the North West UK throughout this time, and a couple of us have exhibited abroad. There are currently 8 members. Our next exhibition takes place at Chester Cathedral at the end of May 2022 throughout June. Good luck, and happy making to all
Norma Hopkins Chair of Textile21 .
Living in Edgware north west London.
Very keen to form a group of working textile artists ,or join a group in the area
Please contact me if you live in the London area
I am a textile creative, is there any groups and like minded people in the Sleaford area south of Lincoln.