International artist extends residency at the Guildhall Gallery

Press Release: 02/08/2007

Saxon Face - artist's impression of a section of the work

International textile artist Alice Kettle’s successful residency in Winchester City Council’s Guildhall Gallery, which was due to close at the end of July, has been extended for a further month.

Six months ago the gallery was transformed into a working studio for Alice to complete a major work commissioned by Hampshire County Council for the new discovery centre in Jewry Street.  Since then well over 7,000 visitors have seen this amazing artwork take shape.  Others have attended Alice’s popular Tuesday talks or participated in the textile workshops run by the Winchester Embroiderers’ Guild in the gallery.

Reactions from visitors who have come to see Alice at work have included:

  • ‘what a wonderful way to show the progress of this exquisite work’
  • ‘truly breathtaking, wonderful to see the Gallery used as a window on a current project’
  • ‘awesome, fantastic colours. Can’t wait to see it joined together’
  • ‘beautiful colours and textures’
  • ‘stunning, a delight’
  • ‘so glad and proud to see such an innovative textile art project happening in Winchester’, and
  • ‘an inspiring show, people rarely get the chance to see how things are made’.

At 16.5m long and 3m high it is one of the largest works of embroidery attempted by a single artist.  Until recently, it only existed as nine separate pieces. Now that Alice has begun the daunting task of bringing together the individually worked panels, the scale of her achievement can be fully appreciated.  The eventual piece will be a single, unified artwork which reflects the themes of Winchester’s past, present and future, through stunning design and innovative use of colour and texture.

Cllr Patricia Stallard, Winchester City Council’s portfolio holder for culture, heritage and sport, commented, “This installation has been a first for us, and the success of the Alice ‘experience’ here at the Guildhall Gallery will be something we will aspire to when the gallery transfers to its new home at the discovery centre.  Alice has captured the hearts of all who have visited: her regular visitors have brought her music to listen to and snacks to sustain her!  And she and her student helpers have coped admirably with the distraction of being ‘on show’ for so many months.  I would like to thank her for a special era at the Guildhall.”

By the end of August the lining will begin to be attached. This will help support and protect the embroidery when it is hung in the new foyer of the discovery centre. Illuminated by natural light from above, and visible from the street, it will ensure a striking first impression for centre users.

Alice’s studio at The Guildhall Gallery will remain open to visitors until Friday 31st August, 10am – 5pm, Monday to Saturday and noon - 5pm Sundays.   (Tuesday talks will be discontinued from the end of July, however, as her full concentration is needed at this critical final stage.  The gallery is also closed for the whole day on Thursday 2nd August.)  Local people and visitors alike are invited to take a last look at the amazing artwork before it disappears from public view prior to its installation in the discovery centre at the end of the year.

Winchester Discovery Centre, which will have books and reading at its heart, will provide everyone in the community with the most enhanced library service in the county; a welcoming place for learning, leisure and recreation for all.  A multi-purpose hall, a new art gallery and the latest technology for access to information and learning will be some of the facilities to be included in the centre, providing something for everyone.

Fore more information about Winchester Discovery Centre visit