Meet the Artist: Victoria Rose Richards

FOA banner.png 3

Interview with embroidery artist, Victoria Rose Richards

Your artwork is amazing, how did you get started in the technique?

I began sewing embroidery landscapes in the autumn of 2018 but kind of stumbled into aerial embroidery in the summer of 2019 – I was doing what I called my ‘colour series’ where I sewed a mini landscape for each colour of the colour wheel using only shades of that colour. I ended up stuck on the all-green landscape and ideas for it. While wondering, I was gazing out my window at the hilled fields opposite and had a realisation that an aerial landscape of those trees and fields would be all green! I made a mini aerial landscape and fell in love with the concept. The second piece I did was an 8-inch version and working on that larger scaled really inspired me. I’ve mainly focussed on aerial embroidery since! I still have many ideas in my head to explore.

2.	As archaeologists we spend a lot of time using aerial photography to both find sites and look at known sites as well as ancient boundaries and lots of other engagement, with your soil science backg

I was – not just the soil science but during my whole biology degree, which was mainly based on ecological and marine sciences. I remember using a lot during my climate and deforestation modules especially to evaluate the land changes over time. At the time they didn’t inspire me as I didn’t sew then, but they did fascinate me!

3.	Do you get commissioned to produce your embroidery or do you create first then sell or both?

I do both, although I only began publicly offering commissions in the past few months – until this point 95% of my art was created first and then sold. I like the freedom of the latter as I get lots of ideas myself and still have many I’m excited to explore but I’ve found doing commissions has also opened up my mind to new things and pushed me to try adding new aspects to my aerials. They’re more of a challenge and I feel in a place now with my art where I can challenge myself more!

4.	How is your creation delivered to the wider audience – have you had an exhibition?

Mainly through my social media and my personal website. I have done shared exhibitions before with other artists in galleries (like a themed art show or with other landscape artists) but haven’t done an exclusive one. It is something I’d love one day but I don’t feel able to set that sort of thing up myself and would like to grow a bit more first too.

5.	What is the process behind the craft– do you look at online maps, do you have to go to the site to get a feel for the landscape?

Most of the landscapes I create are from my imagination! However I also like to explore areas on Google Earth for inspiration, particularly from my home country of Devon. Seeing all the places I know and visit, like Dartmoor, from a new perspective is fascinating. I’d love to be able to get a high-quality drone one day to use my own images for sewing – many photos and images on Google Earth of wilder areas are outdated, some by several years, so aren’t accurate anymore.

6.	How do you start the art – is it a pencil drawing, thread colour and stitching pre defined or do you just go for it?

I either start with a rough basic marker drawing on the felt base as a guide or I go in with no planning! I always start with the trees (French knots) so I start adding them and see what happens.

7.	Looking at your profile  the names you give your work is really poignant and adds further depth,  such as “I came a long way to see this”  “Solitude can be good for the mind (but sometimes it can h

It wasn’t necessarily a conscious decision. When I finish a landscape, I sit and look at it and find the title just comes through – I don’t try hard for one, its often a fleeting thought or first impression while taking it in. That first one you mentioned is a good example of this: this was an old landscape I created in about December 2018, so right at the start of my embroidery journey, which I never sold and kept back. Last month I cleared some old pieces out and came back across it. It needed a little doing up so I reopened it and corrected it and looking back at the finished piece, I reflected how I’d done so much and changed so much since I last stitched that landscape. At the time I never expected things to go as far as they have. I’ve had dreams of being an artist for at least half my life in some form, and holding that piece again, I thought I’d come a long, long way to see this and to get where I am now.

8.	Have you got a wish list for future projects?

I do – I have ideas of focussing more on landscapes of other countries in the next 18 months, almost all my focus has been on Devonshire and UK ones but I have developed new interest in other ones like Australian and American ones. I finished my first inspired by the Australian Outback this month and plan to develop these ideas further over the coming summer!

9.	I wondered do you feel being autistic has enhanced your creativity

I believe it has and that my autism is integral to my art. I have autism-associated sensory sensitivity and experience the world ‘in HD’ (I like to think of it this way!). Sounds are louder, I’m more sensitive to touch and colours are stronger. I’ve been told before, and think so myself too, that my landscapes come across like an idealistic, more strong version than in real life – I get the scale and perspective correct but I strengthen all the colours. I didn’t realise I was doing this before but it makes sense – I naturally experience the world more strongly. My autism also gives me a big eye for tiny details and I’m extremely focussed – I never get tired of the repetitive stitches! I’m pretty one-minded when I’m focussed on something and my embroidery has certainly become a ‘special interest’.

You can see Victoria's artwork on her website, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter.




This interview was produced as part of the 2023 Festival of Archaeology's Archaeology and Creativity Theme Day sponsored by Thames & Hudson.

Thames & Hudson are one of the world’s leading publishers of illustrated books. They publish high-quality titles across ‎all areas of visual creativity. Their mission is to create a ‘museum without walls’ and to make accessible to a large reading public the world of art and the research of top scholars.