Embroidery Samples - The Orkney Collection


Orkney is the inspiration for many types of artistic expression, from paint, photography and sculpture to tapestry and jewellery. With its wonderful scenery and many prehistoric and historic monuments and relics, it offers vast scope for a variety of interpretations.

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The Maeshowe Dragon

Well, ‘DragonladyDesigns' could hardly ignore Orkney’s most famous dragon! The design is from the Neolithic tomb of Maeshowe, which stands prominently within the ‘Neolithic Heartland’ of the Orkney Mainland. Viking raiders broke into this tomb and left their graffiti on its walls in the form of runic inscriptions and this beautiful dragon beast. Here it is portrayed in tapestry wool on a linen mix background using stem, fly and satin stitches with seeding and French knots.


'Sunrise at Brodgar'
Brodgar is a prehistoric stone circle set on a windy promontory between the lochs of Stenness and Harray, a major site in the 'Heart of Neolithic Orkney' World Heritage site.Whether one visits on a beautiful sunny summer day, a rainswept autumnal afternoon, dawn or sunset, it is a truly atmospheric place. ’Sunrise at Brodgar’ uses stranded cotton and tapestry wool on a linen mix ground. The sky is executed using long and short running stitches blending together. Satin stitch and stem stitch portray the land and loch, with the stones in black wool to bring them to prominence against the background.




'Stones 1: Pierowall'

A carved but damaged stone was found at Pierowall in Westray, with a delightful pattern of circles and spirals. In my mind this tied in with a book about the monuments called 'Lines on the Landscape, Circles from the Sky'. I put the two ideas together in the piece 'Stones 1: Pierowall'.

On a background of dyed and painted cotton, hand embroidery and couched threads outline the lines, circles and spirals of the carved stone , but made complete by mirroring the remaining parts of the Neolithic design.

Exhibited at The Strond Gallery, St. Mary's, Holm. April 2009.



'Twilight Stones'

This second Brodgar piece, exhibited at the Pier Arts Centre, Stromness in the 2009 Christmas exhibition and the 'Orkney Craftsmen's Guild' summer exhibition in 2009, has a painted cotton backing with the design made in cobweb felt. It was then embellished with hand embroidery and beading. It is framed and backed with polyester silk with a hanging sleeve.



'Sunset Stone'

Another embroidered and embellished cobweb felt piece was also based on Orkney's Neolithic monuments and featured a single standing stone in a fiery Orkney sunset.



'Midsummer at Brodgar'

Similar view to the 'Sunrise at Brodgar' long-stitch, but this time completed as a mounted, unframed wall-hanging in cobweb felt over cotton, with surface embroidery and applique.

Exhibited at The Waterfront Gallery, Stromness. July 2010



'Brodgar Stone'

Wall hanging in nuno felt on cotton with applique and surface embroidery, this piece measures260 x 210mm.

Exhibited at The Waterfront Gallery, Stromness, Spring 2011


'Stenness Sunset'

Surface embroidery and needle felting on wet-felted background, with cotton surround and backing, this is based on the Stones of Stenness in the 'Heart of Neolithic Orkney' World Heritage site. Exhibited at the Waterfront Gallery, Stromness, Spring 2011



Orkney has a wealth of Viking heritage. One unique find was the boat burial from Scar on the island of Sanday. A whalebone plaque found in the grave is the inspiration for this embroidery, which has been completed using only two colours of stranded cotton on a green linen mix cloth. Green was chosen to represent the land of Orkney – one’s first impression of the Mainland when arriving on the ferry from Scrabster is of a green and fertile land, surely something that attracted the Viking settlers. The beige-brown represents the whalebone and the carved motif is rendered in black.
The work utilises back, buttonhole, satin, stem and zigzag stitches with French knots and seeding

255x205mms Mounted


'Scar - 3D'

This piece is made to the actual size of the Scar whalebone plaque and is shaped and embroidered to recreate this fantastic Viking piece in fabric and thread. Linen mix background with perle cotton embroidery. 266mm high, 210mm wide at base.


'Neolithic Landscape'

The Neolithic village of Skara Brae at the Bay of Skaill on the west coast of Orkney Mainland has produced a variety of art in the form of carved stones. it has been suggested that the design on one of these stones (pictured above) may be a representation of the landscape visible from the village. The landscape has distant mountains in the background with a sand dune separating the land and a loch from the shore. A competition was held by Fursbreck Pottery in 2009 to interpret this design in any art form. The piece below, worked in manipulated fabric, applique, needle felt, embroidery and beading was my winning entry, later exhibited in the Pier Arts Centre, Stromness.

Mounted on board with hanging thread attached at the back, 'Neolithic Landscape 1' measures 735mm x 350mm.


Later I completed a second interpretation of the design in blackwork embroidery on linen. Including the mount this piece measures 360mm x 25.5mm.


'Face to Face, Locked in Combat'

Orkney has a tempestuous and not always peaceful history, right up to the present day. From Viking raids to the sinking of the Royal Oak in the Second World War, conflict has been a part of Orkney life. Although Orkney is a rich farming land, there has been a constant battle against the elements. The two fighting beasts of this work represent this element of struggle within Orkney life. Stranded cotton on cotton twill is used and the beasts made up of back, fly, feather, satin and zigzag stitch with French knots and seeding. On display at the St. Magnus Cafe, Kirkwall, Summer 2012
235x215mm Framed


'Burrian Eagle'

One of Orkney's Pictish carved stones found during excavation of the Broch of Burrian, bore typical symbols: an eagle, a crescent with V-rod and a mirror. For this piece the symbols are cut and appliqued blue acrylic felt on a cotton backing with hand stitched details. The stitched Ogham reads 'Burrian eagle'. Top piece is 23.5 cms square and lower piece is 14.5 cms x 8 cms.



A beautifully decorated stone was also found at the Brough of Birsay. It had been carved with a number of different symbols including three Pictish warriors. This framed piece is executed in paint and stitch on cotton. 150mm x 100mm, not including the frame. Overall size, 230mm x 178mm.

Exhibited at the Waterfront Gallery, Stromness (March 2011)




This dragon was developed from Norse designs and is mainly in running and satin stitch.



'Dragonbeast in Blue'

In this example the beast has turned, mirror image and is executed in stem stitch with a French knot eye.

Mounted and framed.

Exhibited at the Waterfront Gallery, Stromness, May 2012



'Love Birds'

These two 'Love Birds' are a Celtic design, executed using a variety of hand embroidery stitches in stranded cottons on linen-mix ground fabric. mounted and framed. Exhibited at The Waterfront Gallery, Stromness, Christmas exhibition 2010.

200 x 250 mm Framed


'Abstract from the Picts'

There are Pictish remains in Orkney, although the carved stone from which this abstract design was developed, was actually found in Perthshire. The design is executed here in red and black stranded cotton on Aida fabric . Mounted and framed.


'Merry Dancers'

The Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights also known as 'The Merry Dancers', this piece was constructed from applique figures on paint-splashed cotton backing with dyed fleece, beads and surface embroidery embellishment.

Exhibited at The Waterfront Gallery, Stromness. July 2010


'Sea Moods'

The sea around Orkney is never just blue. Depending on time of day, depth of water, and weather conditions, the sea can run through the whole spectrum of colour. To make this piece I firstprinted some of my photographs onto cotton. These were then appliqued onto a textured background made up of heavily embellished dyed fleece, using a variety of sewn and couched threads and beading.



'Across the Flow'

Wall-hanging in cobweb felt on cotton backing with surface hand embroidery and beading.


'Scapa Sunset'

Small wall-hanging with fleece on cotton backing embellished with surface hand embroidery. This is a representation of the view westwards across Scapa Flow with the hills of Hoy to the left and the orkney Mainland to the right. Exhibited at The Waterfront Gallery, Stromness, December 2010, the Hoy Gallery, Lyness, Hoy, summer 2011 and in 'For Art's Sake' Kirkwall, Christmas Open Exhibition 2011



'Beside the Pool of Cletts'

A wall hanging developed from an idea byGail Lawther, and based on one of my photographs of the shore in South Ronaldsay. Applique, beading, couching of yarns and surface embroidery on polyester-cotton.

On exhibition at the Waterfront Gallery, Stromness. 'Orkney Mix' , Summer 2011


'Stone Circle'

Small wall-hanging of a segment of the Ring of Brodgar as seen through a fish-eye lens, based on one of my many photographs of the circle. 190mm diameter.

On exhibition at the Waterfront Gallery, Stromness, Christmas Open Exhibition 2011.


'Midsummer Dawn'

Needle felted and embroidered small (250mm x 160mm) wall hanging looking east from the Ring of Brodgar on midsummer's morn.

On exhibition at 'For Arts Sake', Kirkwall, Christmas Open exhibition, 2011


'Silent Sentinels'

Needle felt and embroidery. Exhibited at The Waterfront Gallery, May 2012


'Standing by the Loch'

Small wall hanging, 115mm x 180mm, in needlefelt and embroidery

North Ronaldsay and Merino wool for the background with stranded cottons for the embroidery.


'Evening stillness'

Small wall hanging inNorth Ronaldsay and Merino fleece.


'Stormy Sky'

Small needle felted picture of a typical dramatic Orkney skyscape as another squall approaches.

Exhibited at Orkney Arts and Crafts first general exhibition, summer 2011.


'Sortie over a Dawn Sea'

Small needle felt and embroidered picture capturing the silhouette of a bird in the early morning light.

Exhibited at The Waterfront Gallery, Stromness at the 'orkney Mix' summer exhibition 2012



'Spear Thistle'

Paint and surface embroidery on cotton. Mounted and framed.

Exhibited at the Waterfront Gallery, Stromness, Spring 2012 and the St. Magnus Cafe, Kirkwall, Summer 2012



(Other Orkney-themed items can be found in 'Boxes' and 'Dolls and Toys')

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