The Warwick Panel

The Warwick Panel Community Project

“There are two virtues much needed in modern life: Art which is to be made by the people and for the people as a happiness to the maker and the user.”
William Morris, “Hopes and Fears for Art” 1882

These words have been the inspiration for this community project started by the East Surrey branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild in September 1985 as a response to an appeal at a local Arts Council meeting for a decorative panel to be made for the new Civic Centre.

The Design is planned on a grid system and intended to relate to both the colour and architecture of the Centre. It consists of squares of stitched canvas showing a central panel designed and worked by members of the East Surrey branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild. This is mainly in greys, black and white and depicts local buildings in the borough. The surrounding squares have been designed and embroidered by local organisations to symbolise their activities. For maximum brilliance and intensity, the colour scheme has been based on the pure colours of the spectrum – yellow, orange, red, magenta, violet, indigo, turquoise and emerald.

The Materials consist of a ground linen canvas (14 threads to the inch) stitched with crewel wools and shiny pearl cotton thread.

The Technique is Canvas embroidery not ‘Tapestry’ which is woven and frequently misquoted for this method of embroidery. A great variety of stitches have been used to create a richly textured surface including the well known petit point or tent stitch.

Framing The structure is similar abacus. Each square has been stretched onto a hardboard support which has been threaded on a vertical rod. This slots into the base of the surrounding ash frame and is easily removable.

3.520m x 1.320 (11’6” x 4’ 3”)
Total number of 133 squares
Each square measures 18cm (7”)

Time taken from start to finish
2 years, 3 months

Organisation of the Project

Design Co-ordinator Elizabeth Ashurst
Design for central panel for the Embroiderers' Guild Ann Sillifant
Administrator Joy Buchan
Treasurer Janet White

Eleven group leaders from the Guild supervised over 104 representatives from individual organisations in the Borough.

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council
South-East Arts
Robin Worth – Farmer and Supplier of hardboard backing
Safeclean of Merstham – Fireproofing
Sewing Machines & Needlecraft of Redhill – Distributors of canvas and thread

Elizabeth Ashurst, 14 December 1987