Sian Martin

Sian MartinSiân Martin is an artist of many talents who studied Textiles at the University of Birmingham between 1969 and 1973. She followed in the footsteps of her mother to pursue a rewarding career in teaching the arts. In 1991, she founded Distant Stitch, and online platform for teaching creative textile courses and workshops.

Final Curtain by Sian Martin"My stitching interest began in childhood, watching my mother, Iris Martin, design and make large embroidered commissions, particularly ecclesiastical pieces. Embroidered frontals, banners and pulpit falls were made for many churches and Bangor cathedral in Wales.

At 17 I completed a foundation course at Swansea Art College then moving on to a BA Honours at Birmingham College of Art and Design, specialising in Embroidery and then an MA at the same college and finally a teaching post-grad qualification at Leicestershire Polytechnic. I started teaching art in schools to earn money and independence which gradually became less attractive as it left me no time to make my own art. Part time teaching and part time making art is a rhythm of how my life evolved which is enjoyable and full of variety.

Sian Martin Floating StorylinesThis love of teaching has taken me around the world, leading workshops and, hopefully, inspiring the love of stitch in my students. I currently teach a distance learning course ‘Distant Stitch’ and really enjoy getting to know many wonderful stitchers from many different countries who are eager to learn and develop their designing and stitching skills. I also teach a masterclass, enjoy freelance teaching and travelling for lectures.

Two textile groups sustain and give an incentive to work to a professional level. In 1974, shortly after leaving college, I was accepted by the 62 Group. In 1995, I was invited to join the Practical Study Group, which has since been renamed the Textile Study Group. Membership of the Textile Study Group allows me to recharge my batteries and to meet up and work collaboratively with like-minded artists in stimulating and supportive residential weekends. We are currently ‘twinned with’ a Swedish group – Textil 13 – and planning a joint exhibition with workshops in Sweden this summer.

Sian Martin Swedish ExhibitionThe 62 Group provides professional opportunities to exhibit at prestigious galleries within a group of individual artists. The selection process by peers for each exhibition, which all 62 group members undergo, is exciting and fresh. It encourages members to challenge themselves and push their personal boundaries.

I describe my work as textile art, since the 62 Group started to describe itself as such but am gradually developing the courage to drop the ‘textile’ part of this description. Although I find it odd that I still like to call myself an embroiderer. I appreciate that every artist works with a medium that they skilfully use to express ourselves so perhaps we all need a certain element of ‘craft skills’ in order to be able to handle our medium to make our art. Perhaps aligning myself to the textile world suggest that the textile medium itself has a greater importance than the message within the work and I do love handling and working with different materials, but also hope they express a thoughtful message too, so I leave it to others to place me within an appropriate sphere of contemporary art."

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