Giant Queen Elizabeth II textile portrait created in Margate mayor’s office ready for unveiling

Artist Stacey Chapman and mayor Cllr Heather Keen with the portrait Photo Frank Leppard

A giant portrait of Queen Elizabeth II has been created in the Margate Mayor’s office in the Old Town and is now nearly ready for its premiere…

The Platinum Jubilee sparked a major project for Margate artist Stacey Chapman who specialises in portraiture and works predominantly in textiles.

It began when Stacey spent 6 months working on her first quilt project as part of The Big Janome Skill Share with Jenni Smith, during lockdown. The design of the quilt art was inspired by intriguing events occurring over that period and the result was a large playful illustration of Queen Elizabeth II at her Coronation and a young, self portrait of the artist playing the role of ladies maid.

The quilt was a success and Stacey was keen to create a further and more ambitious Royal portrait. The Platinum Jubilee was around the corner, creating the perfect platform for such a project.

After previously working in partnership with Janome sewing machine company, a proposal was submitted to the creative director and the Margate born artist was thrilled to receive the biggest UK sponsorship from Janome to date, enabling her to spend a year working on creation ‘Golden Threads.’

Photo Frank Leppard

Stacey said: “It was very important to myself and Janome to spread the love for freehand machine embroidery through the project so free workshops were offered throughout the UK for a year to diverse individuals and groups, especially those who do not usually sew. The project was to learn drawing with a sewing machine. This creative practise is not only immensely enjoyable, it produces great results in a very short time, as well as being a very effective mindfulness practise.”

The Big Janome Skill Share with Stacey Chapman project was to create sewn fabric postcards addressed to The Queen at Buckingham Palace with a few words and an image depicting participants thoughts and wishes for the historic Platinum Jubilee.

The postcard participants varied from Audrey and Olive from Cliftonville Primary School, to a professional cameramen filming the project instructions near Manchester, to the Mayor of Stockport, a former milliner to The Queen, Homestart at The Gap Broadstairs, the women’s group at G.O.L.D in Ramsgate, an offshoot of Mencap, RAF cadets in Margate and Mayor of Margate, Cllr Heather Keen.

Stacey said: “With the sad loss of The Queen in the middle of the project, the work suddenly seemed even more important to capture the historic event as well as the change to a memorial and chance to express grief through stitch.”

Stacey attended the Jubilee celebrations on The Mall; then the lying in State, she was interviewed by Sky News and slept on The Mall ahead of the Queen’s funeral, documenting it all as part of the project. She had also managed to be just 5 people deep from the centre of the Buckingham Palace gates for the very last balcony appearance by Queen Elizabeth.

The artwork is over 4m high and is full of symbolism through the use of colour, emblems and an array of hidden stories through the donations of up-cycled clothing and jewellery from a number of people, notably Age UK Thanet, Ingrid Spencer, Clerk to the Margate Mayor’s office, and Shona Topping.

Stacey, Ingrid and Cllr Keen Photo Frank Leppard

Stacey said: “The strong connection with the Mayor’s office for this piece  came about due to the need for a space to create this huge work. A year long gift of a space was generously donated by the Margate Mayor and the Charter Trustees. The project concept would have had to have changed dramatically without this wonderful support.

“Cllr Heather Keen, former Mayor Cllr Mick Tomlinson, Deputy Mayor Cllr Rob Yates and Clerk to The Mayor Ingrid Spenser have all been incredibly supportive and I want to express enormous thanks for helping make this project happen.

The portrait is due to be unveiled for its first outing at the NEC Birmingham at the Fashion and Embroidery show at Sewing for Pleasure on 15-19th March. The work may also be displayed at further London venues including the Royal College of Doctors, over the coming years, alongside the community sewn postcards with Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria artworks created in a similar fashion.

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