When I saw the programme for the year this is the talk that I most looked forward to. While doing my City and Guilds I was completely captivated by Margaret Nicholson’s work and recall standing mesmerised looking at exhibits of hers at a Knitting and Stitching show. I also spoke to Margaret and found out more about her methods and ideas. I tried some goldwork and soon realised how time consuming it was and how intricate her designs were.
Anthea is Margaret’s Nicholson’s daughter and is well qualified in embroidery and fashion. She has been principal lecturer at the London college of Fashion, Chairman of the EG, and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Arts and graduate of London University.
At our meeting Anthea brought dozens of examples of her mother’s work and illustrated her talk with slides. Margaret was brought up in Yorkshire and went to the Sheffield College of Art before beginning work as a dress designer. In fact she made the first quilted dressing gowns and designed for Marks and Spencers.
This was interrupted by the war and afterwards she began to teach and followed a path in education; becoming an examiner in embroidery. She met her husband in Sheffield and moved to the Cotswolds, where Anthea was born.
In 1965 she joined the staff of the London College of Fashion and was instrumental in changing the methods of teaching. She met people such as Laura Ashley, Beryl Dean and Norman Hartnell and design became her forté. She was able to travel and research extensively and in 1991 her trip to Japan gave her a particular fascination for the female face.
However, it was only after she moved to Muswell Hill in 1992 that her work really blossomed. She lived with Anthea and was able to devote her days to stitching and gradually assembled a huge portfolio. Her basic method is Or Nué and she uses a gold basis couched in coloured silk threads. Many of her pieces are densely stitched but a few have spaces where coloured fabric may show through. The work is also varied with curves and diagonals.
Although most of her work is in the form of pictures she has made some unusual boxes, rolls and beaded necklaces.
Anthea gave us a few glimpses of her busy life including making her own wedding dress, which she had on display, travelling to countries such as Finland, New Zealand and Kenya to examine or judge and working in the fields of costume, fashion, miniatures, sewing techniques and lingerie.
What talent and how grateful we were to Anthea for sparing the time to talk to us.