Textile Exhibitions … in a Box!

25 Years of the Chesterfield Embroiderers’ Guild



Almost three years since their 25th Anniversary Celebrations exhibition, this latest one is a celebration again, this time of the history of the Derwent Valley Cotton Mills.

Taking place at West Studios, Sheffield Road, the exhibition runs from 14 April to 11 May.


“We’re really excited and pleased to be exhibiting at West Studios” says Barbara. “the space is a much-needed addition to the Chesterfield arts circuit and a fantastic base at which to display our work within a stone’s throw of the town centre.


West Studios is in the old Boys Grammar School, the fourth building on the right as you come down Sheffield Road from Newbold Road… it’s also a maker shop, coffee shop and a home to changing exhibitions.

Saturday 14 April there will be the opening event attended by the Mayor and Mayoress, there’ll also be light jazz performed by ‘Dream a Little Dream’ a local band who will entertain you with some mellow laid-back tunes. The opening event is open to all, no tickets or booking required just turn up from 10:45am ‘till 12 noon.



Following the opening event, you can visit the exhibition during the four weeks at West Studios Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm and Saturday 10am to 1pm. On Tuesday and Thursdays of the four weeks members of the guild will be on hand to discuss their work and answer your questions.

“The inspiration for the exhibition came when Antonia Stamford had an original idea to celebrate, in print and stitch, the history of the Derwent Valley Cotton Mills” explains Barbara. “In the lead up the guild members were asked to produce pieces of work that represent the industry, members have produced a range of cushions and boxes as well as individual pieces of work that again show, in stich and print, the cotton industry.

“The Derwent Valley Cotton Mills played an important role in the history of this area. People can see our members interpretation of the mills and, if their interest is stimulated from our work, can talk about becoming a member.”

Chesterfield Embroiderers’ Guild is a member of the National Embroiderers’ Guild. The guild was formed in 1906 and is a registered educational and museum charity.  “The guild holds a collection of historical pieces that have significant influence” explains Barbara. “People often think embroidery is just about tapestry, the Bayeux tapestry known the world over.  More locally we have Hardwick Hall on our doorstep with some beautiful historical tapestries on display.

“Art moves on, people think oil paints, water colours, sculptures but textile based art is ever present.  

“Artists such as Graham Sutherland produced the contemporary piece that hangs in the rebuilt Coventry cathedral, and the flamboyant Grayson Perry does a lot of work with textiles. There is a very mixed group of well-known designers and artists now taking up needles and it’s a really interesting field of work.”

The Chesterfield Guild is keen to encouraging people to pick up the skills and pass on their knowledge. See the Chesterfield Embroiderers’ Guild website for details and on social media. There is no need to be an experienced embroiderer, they welcome people, both men and women to their monthly meetings. They have 33 members who meet once a month at St Mary’s Church Parish Centre. Within the wider Guild people move around and visit presentations and talks at different guild groups, so the attendance at any meeting varies.

The group is clearly passionate about textiles. “We’re not just a bunch of old ladies who sit and stitch crinolines, but people who take textile art seriously and attempt to take it to a higher level in both design and interpretation using new and traditional techniques.” adds Barbara.

If you would like to know a bit more about the guild or you’d like to get involved, why not go along to the ‘Celebrations’ exhibition, they’d love to talk to you and they do have space for new blood in the guild and would encourage anyone to come along who has an interest in embroidery and textiles.

Words: Paul Chapman
Images: Barbara Meeke