Meet the 2021 judging panel
How do you judge the finalists and winners of an international embroidery competition? It’s no easy task, first you need to find specialists with embroidery and design expertise, a discerning eye and a passion for emerging design. These individuals must become intimately familiar with the specially written brief and consider each entrant’s embroidery based on their interpretation of the brief and their creative and technical talents.
Our 2021 judging panel is comprised of educators, practitioners and specialists from every sphere of the embroidery universe. They consider the work in progress at the first stage to determine our finalists, and again at the live prize-giving where they judge the completed embroideries. At the live final our judges also have the opportunity to review supporting research materials to form a comprehensive understanding.
Judges might also talk to finalists about their submissions to interrogate techniques, influences and gain a clear understanding of how they arrived at their exhibited work.
Anthea Godfrey is the current Artistic Director of the Embroiderer’s Guild and a highly experienced embroiderer and educator. Previous positions have included Principal Lecturer at the London College of Fashion, and Principal of The International School of Creative Arts, London. As a lecturer, she has been invited to speak in France, Germany, Denmark, Australia, Finland, New Zealand, Japan and Kenya. She also has been an examiner for ‘O’ and ‘A’ level, City and Guilds Creative Studies, Diploma in Foundation studies and B.A. Hons Embroidery.
Born and raised in Sussex and now living in Brighton, Jenny King is one of the most experienced and exciting embroidery and mixed-media textile designers working in the UK fashion industry today.
After graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2002 Jenny worked freelance for designer and artist Karen Nicol. It was here that Jenny perfected her skills using the Irish machine before starting her own business.
The studio quickly established itself around her as demand for her work grew and Jenny King Embroidery now counts amongst its clients an ever-growing list of high profile designers including Erdem, Mary Katrantzou, Vivienne Westwood, Tom Ford, Roksanda, J W Anderson and Olivia Von Halle. As well as developing embroidery with clients in the fashion industry the studio also works with a number of Theatre, film and costume designers including Royal Opera House, Shakespears Globe, Royal Shakespear Company and Glyndebourne Opera House .
As her reputation has grown, so has Jenny King Embroidery and Jenny now employs and manages a growing team of embroiderers. She prides herself on the high standard of work that she and her team regularly deliver and is committed to working with both established and emerging talent.
Karen Nicol is a London based mixed media and embroidery textile designer/artist working in fashion, interiors and gallery.
Creating concepts and designs, Karen produces embroidered textiles for ready-to-wear and couture. She has worked with many fashion design houses including Schiaparelli, Alexander McQueen, Jasper Conran and Giles Deacon .
Karen has designed and produced interior textiles for clients such as the King of Qatar, the Pope, Estee Lauder and Gwyneth Paltrow. Also creating own label collections of home pieces for companies including Anthropologie, Pottery Barn and Designers Guild.
Since 2010 Nicol’s large embroidered, painted and sculpted art pieces have been exhibited and sold in galleries and art fairs all over the world with solo shows in London, Paris and New York.
Karen was founder, senior lecturer and visiting professor of the Mixed Media MA degree course at the Royal College of Art, London. Currently Nicol is artist in residence at DeMontfort University and continues to lecture in colleges around the world.
In 2015 Karen was made an RDI, a Royal Designer for industry, one of only 200 in the world.
Elizabeth Elvin has enjoyed a long and varied career teaching hand embroidery. She joined the Royal School of Needlework in 1961 when it was based at Princes Gate, Kensington and where she went on to specialise in the teaching of gold and silk and ecclesiastical embroidery.
She became Principal of the Royal School of Needlework in 1987, her first task overseeing their move from Princes Gate to Hampton Court Palace. She reinstated the Apprenticeship and introduced Day Classes and the Certificate Courses. She has now re-established her teaching career and has taught in Australia, San Francisco and other areas of the USA, as well as many parts of the UK, teaching Royal School of Needlework day classes.
Elizabeth has taken part in various community projects, teaching silk shading to young girls in Cairo and Kenya. She also advises Fine Cell Work which teaches needlework to prison inmates in the UK.
Elizabeth helped to curate an exhibition on the life of the late Beryl Dean with whom she worked with between 1965 to 1990. Elizabeth is also helping with an exhibition at the Goldsmiths Centre provisionally scheduled for 2022 to promote metal hand embroidery together with handmade jewellery using the same fine wire as the embroidery.
Justine Bonenfant graduated in Fashion Design at ESMOD Roubaix, before building on her Haute Couture skills at Lesage School in Paris. In 2015 she was awarded a Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust Apprenticeship, to learn Goldwork at Hand & Lock. Justine has experience as a high-end hand embroiderer and design consultant participating in Paris Haute Couture Week and London Fashion Week. She has worked for Chanel, Dior, Valentino, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Dolce and Gabbana and Burberry. For the last two years, Justine has been in charge of the technical process at Vastrakala, the Indian based embroidery company owned by Jean-Francois Lesage.
Polly Kenny is the Programme Director Materials London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London with 40 years of teaching experience in embroidery. Her pedagogic research embraces the development of digital resources whilst practice-based research explores traditional embroidery with new technologies. Exhibited work includes in ‘Making research: Researching Making’ conference, University Aarhus, ‘Mind and Body’ and ‘Uncovering the Surface’ conferences USA, ‘Suave 2’, Spain, ‘Modular’ 5th International Design Biennial, Russia and ‘Square-Carre-Cuadrado’, 3rd International Biennial’, Women in Textiles Art, Venezuela.
Polly Leonard is the founder of Selvedge, an internationally renowned textile magazine that has an international readership of over 45,000 people. Polly has a specialist knowledge in all aspects of textiles, with particular interest in the role textiles has played in the evolution of humanity. Her own textile practice encompasses using weaving embroidery and basketry techniques to produce none functional sculptural forms. She has taught and lectured around the world from high schools to adults. Selvedge combines her passions for social history, fine art and craft.