Elaine Barnard

Elaine Barnard

My quilts and fibre are archives of my life that stems from words, travels and secrets women share.

I have a continuing fascination with travel, especially exotic places like North Africa, Turkey and India. My work is a synthesis of memories and observation that celebrates these special places and the people that live there. 

I sometimes wonder why I work in fibre, as it’s such a slow process. But I love the storytelling, image making, the texture of the fabrics and the painterly potential of it. Each time I feel as though I am unwrapping a parcel and discovering more and more.... 

My quilts are a combination of machine embroidery and hand embroidery. I love the process of layering. I often start off with white fabric and then paint, print, dye, colour, stencil, embroider, quilt and stitch on beads or buttons to enhance the layering process, like the layering of a story coming alive. 

I have been doing needlework since forever. I have been a teacher for the past 40 years. I am a qualified remedial teacher. I have been teaching needlework at a school for mildly mentally retarded teenagers for the past 29 years. 

My areas of expertise are focused on Innovative methods using:

• Hand and machine embroidery

• Hand and machine appliqué

• Fabric bead making

• Water soluble fabric

I am always stretching my creative abilities and challenge myself to always do something unique. I am perhaps best known for my unique way of portraying women by hand and machine embroidery and appliqué. 

My teaching philosophy is: 

I like to stretch my student’s imagination and abilities to the utmost and to expose them to new ways of thinking and doing. “I believe in the powers of ordinary men and women, in their immense potentialities, in their capacity to rise higher than themselves, in their essential creativeness, in them as artists. I do not believe in the ‘chose few’: I believe in us all.” 

My classes are all based on my own original ideas and influences in my life, which include: 

Books – the written word and quotes. 

Travel – to exotic places. 

And women and the secrets they share... 

All of this then sparks off my imagination and make me create.


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