Sometimes things just appear out of the blue – and that can be a really good thing.

And for me, the exhibition, Exuberance, was one of them.

From memory, I received an email from one of the curators inviting me to take part along, with a fairly comprehensive brief outlining the premise for the exhibition.

Hosted by Craft and Design Canberra, Curated by Sharon Peoples and Carol Cooke, the exhibition began July 6 and runs until August 26, 2023.

But what’s really interesting here is that I’m not considered a hand embroiderer – my previous work has been entirely machine-made.

So, when I read the brief, I was a little surprised, to say the least – and it’s not that I can’t embroider by hand, it’s just that I haven’t done it in years.

And this is where serendipity comes into play, because, if I remember correctly, I was just beginning to play around with reconnecting to handwork – rediscovering the pleasure and sense of calmness and peace it offers.

Exuberance simply solidified my intentions – but it also scared me enormously.

I’m no fancy stitcher – I do basic stitches, but what I found, once I settled on a concept for Coral, was that those simple, easy-to-work techniques were best suited to my style.


I like to build stitches.  And Coral is a metropolis.

It’s energetic, vibrant, intricate, and detailed – and full of contrasts, so that was the focus for my embroidery.

I worked best by simply doing and not overthinking – the thinking evolved as the stitches were laid down, although I did do some quick sketches for ideas and shapes I knew I could interpret through stitch – and it was nothing fancy, let me assure you.

By focusing on the concept of contrast I was able to build Coral – one piece at a time, so the coral grew and evolved organically, just as it does in nature.

Yes, it was slow, but the energy emanating from each and every stitch just begged for more and more – and when you’re caught up in your work, time just flies.

It took three iterations of sampling before I was finally happy – and I learned along the way, and built upon that learning.

So, when serendipity knocks at your door, embrace it with all your might.

It may mean a change of direction – and that can be a very good thing sometimes.


All views and opinions expressed are my own, except where acknowledged information is included from other sources.