The Julia Caprara Hons BA in Embroidered Textiles Middlesex University, PDF  | Print |  E-mail

judy martin

Ingrid Lincoln, Judy Martin and Lesley Turner, three Canadian stitch artists, recently completed the rigorous Hons BA in Embroidered Textiles validated through Middlesex University in London, England and graduated this past July 20, 2012.

  This degree was offered as distance education through Opus, a school founded by the late Julia Caprara and her husband Alex in 1998.  Those who graduated from Middlesex in 2012 are part of the final graduating class of that courageous experiment, as the school is now closed.  The embroidery of Great Britain has had a high reputation for centuries.  Consider the gold work (Opus Anglicanum) and the City and Guilds educational programs that have maintained the traditions and pushed the parameters of the stitched arts in the 20th century. 


lesley turner
Lesley Turner: "Home" detail. Materials: bed sheets, cotton,wool, linen, silk, bamboo thread, wood, steel

20th and 21st art history and issues were an important part of this degree, ensuring that upon graduation, the students would understand where their own work with cloth and stitch fit within contemporary fine art.  To complete the degree, each student was required to write an illustrated dissertation of 8,000 words and to orally defend their exhibition work in London England.  The final examination took place on June 19 at the Grove Atrium gallery at Middlesex University, with the exhibition open to the public from June 20 – 24. This same exhibit will also travel to Canada in November 2012 and then to Germany in February, 2013.  The exhibition is entitled Continuum and will be mounted at the Oakville Town Hall during the World of Threads Festival, November 2 – 18. 

On view will be a striking collection of work from all ten honours graduates.  Joining the three artists from Canada are six from England; Caroline Hibbs, Denise Jones, Val Cross, Jean Kirk, Viki Jenkins, Marilyn Hall, while the tenth, Monika Bruckner is from Germany.  The use of metaphor links the diverse collection of works in the Continuum exhibition as the ten artists address issues such as identity, process, memory, and the environment. 


UK graduates attending Middlesex University ceremony. The 3 Canadian graduates met the rest of their class for the first time the day they installed their work at the university.

 Why did these three women from Canada, Ingrid Lincoln, Judy Martin, and Lesley Turner, already accomplished textile artists, undertake this challenging program?

Ingrid Lincoln

Ingrid Lincoln: "Place, a perfect landscape". materials:resin, fabric

Ingrid: I had always thought that I would go to art school after I retired from my time in the work force. I spent twenty years in a busy legal practice and although I had discovered needlework as a hobby, I had no time to pursue it. I had completed a City& Guilds program, which I found helpful but there still seemed to be something missing. Although Winnipeg has an active fine arts community the University did not offer any textile related programs. You could now do textiles but you were essentially on your own. Other programs in North America seemed to concentrate on weaving or surface design techniques and they required you to be at their campus. The Opus programme was not only specific to textiles it focused on stitch and I did not have to move. I found the programme rigorous and wide-ranging. It concentrated quite heavily on the theoretical background of textiles and contemporary art. It also introduced you to a tutorial system and some of the best-known practitioners in the field. It was a very worthwhile experience and ironically moved me in a direction that I least expected.

judy installed
Judy Martin'  Monumental Simplicity materials: plant dyed silk/wool gauze, hand stitched

 Judy:  Although I already held a fine art degree (Lakehead University, 1994) I still felt isolated in Northern Ontario and was concerned that my work was naive.  I felt that it was necessary to stretch my mind so as to push my work closer to an edge I did not quite understand.  I seriously considered taking an MA degree and moving to a larger city in Canada to do so.  However, once I started researching universities, the OPUS degree option seemed a better fit for me because of its focus on stitched textiles rather than woven.  The course outline promised (and delivered) an intensive study of world textiles, fine art textiles, and contemporary cultural issues.  I am very pleased by what I’ve learned and the confidence I’ve gained.  I’ve learned to trust my own voice.  It is ironic that quiet isolation is now a positive subject in my work.  I believe that it was important for me as an artist to be able to remain here where my roots are while at the same time acquiring this degree from an internationally respected University.  

lesley installing

Lesley Turner installing "Home" in the Atrium Gallery, Middlesex University, London


After completing three City and Guilds certificates in embroidery, design and machine embroidery and a visual design certificate at the University of Calgary, I realized I was only just beginning  to learn how to express my ideas with textiles. I considered attending the Alberta College of Art + Design because I lived within walking distance of the campus but with children still at home I knew my time wasn't my own for me to be able to attend classes during the day. The long distance degree validated by Middlesex University in London gave me the flexibility to set my own work schedule and unlike any other degree program, it focused on stitching. As a mature student I knew I had the self discipline and work habits required for independent study. One of the most appealing aspects of the program was the caliber of the tutors, all practicing professionals.

Lesley Turner: "Home" installed in Atrium Gallery, Middlesex University

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