A LEADING all girls school has recruited one of its alumni as its Artist in Residence to share her talents with pupils while honing her skills in embroidery.
Emma Hardy has her own studio space within the large art department at Durham High School, where she was a pupil between 2012 and 2019 before going on to gain a BA in Textiles at the University of Huddersfield.
From the studio, she is deepening her knowledge of traditional embroidery techniques with plans to set up her own business embroidering embellishments for garments, jewellery and headwear in the future.
She said: “I love the intricate and repetitive nature of embroidery, I find it’s good for mindfulness and mental health; it’s very therapeutic. I’m focusing now on mastering the traditional techniques so I can then find a modern way of interpreting them and presenting them to people.”
Alongside her personal work, Miss Hardy, whose embroidery was showcased in a museum overseas, supports Durham High School pupils in various art lessons and co-curricular activities, including Textiles Club and Photography Club, two days a week.
She supports the school’s Head of Art, Jenni Sneddon-Brown, who taught Miss Hardy while she was a pupil there.
The 23 year old, who studied both Textiles and Graphics at A Level, said: “I love having the opportunity to give back to Durham High. The school shaped who I am not only as an artist, but as a young woman by increasing my confidence and developing my resilience.
“It was Jenni who inspired me all the way through school – I absolutely loved her lessons! She encouraged me to pursue an art-based course at university and she’s the reason I opted to study Textiles.”
Miss Hardy was introduced to embroidery by her grandmother at a young age. She incorporated the technique in her GCSE and A Level Textiles work and specialised in it at university. A piece she created during Covid lockdown entitled ‘Wash Ya Hands’ – inspired by a KT Tunstall song of the same name – was on display at the Greve Museum in Denmark in 2020.
Miss Hardy, whose mother, Lisa Hardy, taught music theory and flute at the school, was commissioned by DHS to create an embroidery design for this year’s school Christmas card. It features Durham Cathedral’s famous rose window using historic goldwork technique.
“As an old girl, one of my favourite memories of school was of the carol service in Durham Cathedral,” she said. “So, I wanted to combine the iconic rose window of the cathedral with the DHS St Cuthbert’s cross logo.”
Miss Hardy, who is taking a Certificate in Technical Hand Embroidery with the Royal School of Needlework, is Durham High School’s second Artist in Residence. Last year, painter Rebecca Robson held the role.
Mrs Sneddon-Brown, who heads Durham High’s vibrant art department having joined the school in 2012, said: “Both Emma and Rebecca before her have enriched the department with their knowledge and skills.
“The Artist in Residence position was created last year to allow young, up and coming artists the opportunity to have their own studio space on site to hone their craft, while supporting the pupils with their artwork during lessons and clubs. The two-way partnership works well, and the girls are really benefitting from Emma’s expertise and support.”