I came across this beautiful series of black-thread embroidery by Michelle Holmes, a crafter based in the UK. Michelle has created a character Betty, who lives in the countryside, by the sea, enjoys gardening and crafts, and keeps chickens.
I began posting Betty illustrations a couple of years ago now. They are glimpses of Bett’s day to day ponderings to herself, random little or big thoughts in the moments between stuff.
The small, everyday details of her life are chronicled in individual pieces of embroidery which Michelle sells on Folksy.
There’s been an incredible wave of individuals returning to crafts to unwind, develop a new hobby and stimulate their creativity. I love discovering new ideas and artists like this.
Michelle’s work reminds me of the rural style of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, or Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, The Sea (two of the greatest books ever written about enjoying the simple pleasures of life).
Betty is like an imaginary friend. I draw inspiration for her from my grandma Doris, a childhood neighbour named Millicent and a character from a book named Lady Isabella Bird. Themes for Betty seem to be inspired by my week, but can also be quite random.
The pieces are also vintage-inspired (just take a look at that kitchen!) and there’s a real early 20th century feel about them, which transports you to a different time and place.
There’s something wonderful and meditative about documenting the simple, everyday activities like making a cup of tea, or gardening, that I really love. I’m completely mesmerised.
Michelle prepares landscapes and seascapes inspired by her travels to the British coast, and around Europe.
She also works with natural fabrics – jute, hemp, organic cotton – and in monochrome, adding to the elegant simplicity of her pieces. She adds details using hand-stitching, beading and applique.
Her work has been exhibited at various private collections, and the public collections at the Bankfield Museum, Halifax and the Platt Hall Museum of Costume and Textiles, in Manchester. She has exhibited work in the UK, Germany and the USA.
In 1994, she won the Best New Exhibitor Prize at the prestigious Chelsea Craft Fair and the Carroll Foundation Award.
Her work is featured in numerous publications and she has designed a range of cards and a magazine cover for Neiman Marcus, together with bed linen for Habitat. She also has a selection of work permanently on show at The Bluecoat Display Centre, Liverpool and Soma in Bristol.