Jane Lemon died
last week and, in many ways, this feels like the end of an era. I am proud to
have had Jane Lemon as a friend and colleague and am very sad at this great
Her contribution, not only to ecclesiastic embroidery but also in the
secular field, has been huge. Her books on constructions such as boxes were immensely
popular – not many people know that Jane once made a box for the Queen.
The one below, which she called The Drip, not
only shows her talent but also her sense of humour. She gave me an image to use
in my ‘Putting on the Glitz’ talk and
it always raises a laugh.
She led the Sarum
Group of Embroiderers through the making of well over a hundred pieces of work,
from alms bags to very high profile altar frontals. St George’s Chapel, Windsor was one of their
high profile clients.
My favourites will always be the Salisbury Cathedral frontals. The Festal frontal - see right - with its message of water flowing, like blessings, from the cross to the believer.
Also the Energy
Frontal, below, with colours that picked up the great Prisoners of Conscience window above it.
She loved to talk
about her days as wardrobe mistress for the Saddlers Wells Theatre Ballet
Company and as a costume designer for television. This form of design gave her
the ‘eye’ to work on the scale and tone which produced such outstanding designs
for the altar frontals.
Upon her marriage
in 1962, Jane resigned from the BBC and became involved in the Women’s
Institute. Needless to say she soon began giving talks and leading
workshops. This brought her to the
Embroiderers’ Guild, where she served on the Executive Committee for many years.
She was invited to
join the Practical Study Group, (now the Textile Study Group). She became well-known
for her books on embroidered boxes and metal thread embroidery. A
lecture tour of Australia and New Zealand confirmed her front-line status.
In 1977, Jane met
with Dr Sydney Evans who was looking for designers for Salisbury Cathedral and
the die was cast. The Sarum Group, led
by Jane, was formed in 1978 and the commissions kept coming. They included work
for churches and cathedrals not only throughout
the UK, but also in America. Their work is held by the cathedrals of St Albans (shown below), Exeter, Salisbury and
Wells, plus Bath and Sherborne Abbeys.
talented group worked very well together and became close friends. Jane produced
the designs and decided on the interpretation but members all provided their own
special skills and these were much valued by Jane.
The frontal shown below, with detail on the right, was made for a church in Houghton, in memory of Mollie Collins - a Sarum Group member.
Jane had a strong
faith and a vivid imagination but she also had a great sense of humour. She
liked to make the work relevant to the church family and always made a point of
reading the church notice-board before she began designing.
Jane and I had a
wonderful time on Val Campbell-Harding’s Historical Heirlooms City and Gulids course
at Urchfont Manor in 2006. I think we were the worst students ever and caused
as much havoc as we could. However, we both admitted that we learned an awful
Jane was the President
of West Country Embroiderers for many years and took an active part in running
this lively group. The fact that she talked me into taking over this role two
years ago is testament to her gift of persuasion, although I admit that I enjoy
the group and their fellowship just as much as she said I would.
2011 Jane produced a series of panels for Amnesty International. The theme was Prisoners
of Conscience and celebrates the 50th anniversary of Amnesty. The series was displayed at Salisbury Cathedral and I reviewed this for Workshop on the Web.
You can see the review by clicking the link below.
For the last few
years, I have caught up with Jane at a group that meets at the Kingcombe Centre
in deepest Dorset. She has been a wonderful asset to this group (as she was to
the other groups that she attended) and was always ready with ideas and
suggestions. She was also inclined to give a prod if she thought you were
slacking and neglecting your work!
Clive and I often went out for a pub lunch with Jane and were due to do so later this month - so sad to think that will not happen now. We shall all miss
Jane immensely but I think it is safe to say that she was a tour de force who
will not easily be forgotten.