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Helen M. Stevens, S.W.A.  Textile Artist

A Life in Embroidery

"Embroidery has been in my soul since before I was born.

It has been in my life since I was a child.

It has been my career since 1981.

An embroiderdress continues to be who I am, not just descriptive of what I do."

After a childhood travelling with her father, an Royal Air Force officer, Helen's secondary education was at The County Grammar School for Girls in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk.  Bury, an ancient market town in the east of England, and the beautiful countryside which surrounds it, had a huge formative effect upon her love of history and nature.

Leaving school at 16, Helen went to business college, leaving with qualifications in office management, accounting, Pitman shorthand and typing.  Five years in legal and architectural work were enough.  With a knowledge of how the world of business worked and a belief that art and commerce need not be mutually exclusive she began her own business.  In 1981 the True Embroideries Studio was born and took wings.

Throughout the 1980's, Helen's work continued to expand in popularity, earning her commissions from Harrods of Knightsbridge, The Stanley Gibbons Gallery, NHS, the House of Commons and the British Museum, the latter sparking her interest in Anglo Saxon embroidery. 

Exhibiting by invitation as a member of the Society of Women Artists, at Central Hall, Westminster, The Mall Galleries, the Palace of Westminster and as a regular contributor to the Arts Pavilion at the East of England Show, Helen honed her exhibition skills, then holding a one-woman show regularly every two years at a number of prestigious venues.

The coming of the 1990's heralded a new dimension to Helen's work when publishers David and Charles commissioned her first book.  Twelve bestsellers followed, each exploring a different aspect of her art and giving her a place on the international stage which led to invitations to lecture and teach worldwide.

Throughout the 1990's and 2000's Helen traveled throughout the UK and internationally to teach and lecture, visiting Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States, often at the request of Fine Arts and Embroiderers' Guilds.  Exhibitions featuring her work included events at Sydney Olympic Stadium (Aus), the Camberwell Brown Art Gallery (USA), and St. Johns University, Newfoundland (Canada).

Since​ 2011 Helen has lived in Bury St. Edmunds, in a cottage dating back to the turn of the 18th century.  The atmosphere of the Cathedral and Abbey, the beauty of the surrounding countryside and the  love of her home and garden - and numerous animals - continue to be an inspiration for her unique creations.  To see a greater selection of styles and subjects, visit Gallery.

(Left: Helen and Mitty the toy poodle)