Alex Beattie

Many of you will already know Alex Beattie from his wonderful Days of Creation collection. This was a remarkable achievement and showed what imagination Alex has as well as great technical skill. His fascination with book illustration is evident in all his needlepoint designs which combine an illustrator’s graphic eye with a distinctive colour palette.

My art background is in illustration and tapestry design was something completely new to me. However, as soon as I saw some of the Ehrman designs, I pleaded with Hugh to let me have a crack at doing one. And I’ve never looked back .

What I love most about both designing and stitching is the fact that you’re working with pure colour. There’s no mixing or preparation – it’s bright, jewel-like wools sewn straight on to the canvas. There’s also something wonderful about the simplicity of it. You take a handful of colours and a grid of (say) 150 by 150 stitches, and from that you create a whole story. In many ways it’s the limitations themselves which make the end product so elegant. Needlepoint as haiku.

An interview with Alex Beattie discussing his Days of Creation series and other work.

In terms of the inspiration for my designs, the art style I’ve looked to most is mosaic. Especially the Byzantine-inspired mosaics in Italy. I’m amazed at how they’ve taken an art form that’s so intensive and painstaking and used it to create these magnificent, flowing scenes. And, just like tapestry, it’s all pure colour, with each tessera a single piece of glass that’s as bright now as the day it was set.

I also love just wandering aimlessly through museums like the British Museum and the V & A, just waiting for something to jump out through the centuries. They’re such incredible treasure houses: I still get taken aback how you can saunter from Assyrians to Ostrogoths to Mediaeval panel painting in the space of minutes.

Alex Beattie

This broad range of interest is well illustrated in the kits he has designed for us and like all of our best designers he is not restricted to a particular period or style. He builds his patterns in blocks of colour on his computer, like a mosaic, but they are never static.

Designed by Alex Beattie

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