Portrait of Mrs P (Constance Howard)
By Sue Stone
Recycled cotton, linen & silk fabrics, cotton embroidery threads & wool yarn. Stretched on wooden stretcher bars.
30.5 x 38.5 cm
Why Constance Howard?
For the exhibition I chose to make a portrait of Constance Howard MBE, who was a small, charismatic person with bright green hair which she sported from the 1930s up until her death in 2000. Constance was head of the Embroidery course at Goldsmiths College when I was a student – however, the first time I met her she introduced herself as Mrs Parker which was rather confusing for me. It took me a while to realise that Mrs P and Constance Howard were the same person! When I went to Goldsmiths I had already dropped out of the fashion course at St Martins but with the guidance and enthusiastic encouragement of Constance I completed my degree in embroidery/textiles (Hons 1st Class) in 1975. Her words of wisdom stayed with me during my time as a designer and when aged 50 I decided on a change of career they sustained my path back to embroidery so she was the obvious choice of subject for my portrait. DMC 995 or as I like to call it Constance Howard blue was a colour she recommended to students to liven up their work. It’s a colour I still use today in my work and I included it as a tribute to Constance in this work.” Constance Howard was born in 1910 and died in 2000. She established the influential Embroidery department of the art school at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She had a huge impact on contemporary embroidery and in establishing the confidence of textile work in the second half of the 20th century. Following her retirement in 1975, the year I graduated, she was awarded the MBE for services to embroidery.
About the Artist
Sue is a British artist who is best known for figurative, textural compositions. She uses hand embroidery sometimes combined with machine stitch, appliqué and paint to create narratives. Sue was born in Great Grimsby, a fishing town on the east coast of England and moved to London to study fashion at St Martins School of Art and then embroidery at Goldsmiths College in the 1970s. On graduating she returned to her hometown and went on to have a long career in clothing design and manufacture before returning to embroidery in 2002.
Sue’s practice is made up from several elements: documenting, making, exhibiting, teaching, speaking. She is an exhibiting member of the 62 Group of Textile Artists and Fellow of the UK Society of Designer Craftsmen.