Tent London Find: Lou Gardiner



One of my favorite finds from Tent London while on Blogtour London was Lou Gardiner. This British artist is quite the talent with an interesting medium of contemporary embroidery. Her works are available as originals, prints,  pillows, and silk scarves. The beautiful artist was in her booth draped with the above scarf over her shoulder.  It was an elegant chic look that just exuded her creative spirit. 


Here is her bio:

“Louise Gardiner, British artist and illustrator, grew up on a Dairy farm in the village of Styal, Cheshire.  She has become well known for her world of weird and wonderful creatures and characters and you may recognize her work from the Woodmansterne card range ‘In Stitches’.  Louise and her embroideries have entertained a wide variety of people at exhibitions and talks resulting in an established career as an international artist and teacher.  She has helped push this niche art form in new directions and continuously promoted stitch as an exciting, rich medium, with strong associations with drawing and our cultural heritage.  

After an art foundation at Manchester Metropolitan University, Louise then graduated from Goldsmith’s College, London with a Textiles BA (Hon’s) 1994 . Later in 2001 she returned to Manchester Metropolitan University and completed an MA  in Illustration.  After yo-yoing between the big smoke and the North West, Louise secured a studio in Bristol, enabling her to develop larger scale, more ambitious projects and work full-time in an artistic community where she was also studio manager for 5 years.

She has developed a diverse and interesting portfolio, showing evidence of growing creative confidence and successful projects in the community.  Her work is ever developing and she hopes to create work, which will enhance our environment, delight others and push her own creative boundaries.

Louise combines the exciting and intricate medium of free machine embroidery with her passion for drawing and says she can drive a sewing machine like an ‘Aston Martin!’  She creates figurative, floral and flamboyant pieces of artwork using a combination of rhythmic drawing, intense and intricate free machine stitches, paints, appliqué and inks.  Every work is unique and labor-intensive, planned yet spontaneous.  These original and energetic embroideries celebrate the rich and colorful medium of thread and illustrate her sensitivity to her surroundings, lust for life and cheeky sense of humor.  

The London Embroiderers’ Guild awarded Louise a scholarship for her embroidery in 2005 and she continues to exhibit internationally.  She has been selected for ‘Art of the Stitch, ’ ‘ORIGIN’ and the ‘PFAFF’ Embroidery awards, has sewn live on ‘Woman’s Hour’ R4 and in November 2010 taught a master class on Channel Four’s ‘Kirstie’s Homemade Home.’   Louise regularly works to private commission producing one off bespoke pieces across the UK for a variety of clients.    She has completed several large scale public commissions including ‘The Wacky Races’ for ‘The Gloucester Royal Children’s Hospital’, an interactive project ‘Birds of Paradise, ’ with the women’s’ ‘PICU’ Unit at Blackberry Hill, Bristol and now a large embroidered ‘Tree of Life’ for Oldham Hospital and the Acute Pennine Trust. 

Louise has completed many embroidered illustrations for books and editorial, including The Guardian, Selvedge magazine and BBC4.  In 2008 she received a Parliamentary award for 23 embroidered illustrations for the book ‘Saggy Boobs and other Breast Feeding Myths’ with writer Val Finnigan and LIME ARTS and in 2010 Louise was commissioned by LIBERTY of London to create a 2 metre quilt for their flag ship store window display, Regent street, in conjunction with the festival of Quilts at the V and A.  Her next ambitious project is a sequence of ‘exploding embroideries’ for the Project Space at COLLECT, The Saatchi Gallery in May this year, 2012.

Louise teaches and speaks about energetic machine embroidery at Universities, Museums and Guilds worldwide including a three month lecture tour for the New Zealand Embroiderer’s Guild in 2010.  She has a reputation as a lively and passionate speaker and her aim is to promote free-machine embroidery as a rich and cutting edge medium, to push her own creative boundaries and possibly one day … win ‘The Grand Prix’ on her sewing machine!”

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“In May 2012 I was selected out of approximately 70 applicants to exhibit in the Project Space at COLLECT, theSaatchi Gallery, London. This exhibition, run by The Crafts Council aims to showcase the best in contemporary craft of museum quality from around the world. I spent 6 intense months creating 5x large embroidered artworks on canvas, linen and quilted taffeta using a range of techniques. These 5 pieces titled ‘You Blow Me Away’ were exhibited in a sequence and within 3 days, 4 had sold!”

COLLECT statement:

“In this series of 5 works I am exploring the notion of movement by intuitively creating explosive, organic designs. I attempt to produce embroidery that despite its labour intensive and finickety nature, has immediate dynamic impact.

This sequence is inspired by the odyssey of the humble Tumbleweed fracturing at it’s roots, randomly travelling through the dry landscape of my mind and into one of the most exciting galleries in London. As the wind blows this tragicomic Tumbleweed along, symbolic of humourless desolation, it develops and grows in intensity, dresses up for the occasion and demands attention as if generating its own energetic force or electricity.

I created these embroideries from intricate designs on paper into stitch, drawing with a basic but strong sewing machine. Detailed painting and complex applique and embroidery have then been added layer by layer.

I am passionate about exploring exciting colour combinations, neon, metallic and reflective materials which subtly react with light. I attempt to push the boundaries of the classic and ornate, versus flamboyant kitsch.

I hope that this series illustrates both the roller coaster journey of creativity, the many possibilities of an idea and the challenging processes I have developed in my practice as a ‘contemporary embroideress’ with a twist.”


I hope you have enjoyed getting to know Lou and her work  as much as I have. 

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  • October 1, 2013

    WOW, She is amazing and I can only imagine the impact in person to be incredible! Thanks for sharing!

  • July 5, 2018

    c’est tellement beau et créatif, pensé irréalisable. quel talent . de l’or dans les doigts.merci pour ce plaisir.

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