Spanish Studies


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Four weeks away from home in our favourite Spanish haunts gives plenty of time for drawing, absorbing and thinking about art. Each area we visit has its own charms, from the sierra south of Salamanca, to Sepulveda and Covarrubias, both stunning  little medieval towns, and finally to Isla in Cantabria in the north. Here are a few drawings that might simply act as my visual diary, or could lead to further work on stitching on my sewing machine. I have 35 years of sketch books in my studio. Maybe in my next post I will revisit some of those.

Las Batuecas, parque nacional de la Sierra de Francia

Las Batuecas002



The road from Santo Domingo de Silos to Covarrubias

Road from Santo Domingo001

and our favourite beach in Isla in Cantabria

Isla beach001

Art in Action 2016


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I am really lucky to be demonstrating and exhibiting at what is going to be the very last Art in Action at Waterperry, in Oxfordshire from July 13th-17th. This extraordinary event was started 40 years ago and has gone from strength to strength. It is surely the best of its kind in the UK and will be sorely missed. Where else can you see hundreds of artists working in every media imaginable, showing you how they create their work, alongside concerts, performances and lectures all held in the stunning grounds at Waterperry. So if you havent got a ticket and can make it come along and see it, its your last chance! You can even watch a flamenco performance this year! So if you come along you will find me in the textiles Demonstrators Marquee working on my sewing machine!

I’ve been busy making new pieces all year, from small portfolio ones to a range of stitched and framed canvases. Here are two of the smaller pieces.

“An Abundance of Poppies” 12cm x 15cm aprox (South Downs UK)

An Abundance of Poppies small

“Amber Glow” 11cm x  14 cm approx (Spanish memories)

Amber Glow

News Update June 2016


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It’s been a busy few weeks for me with some great promotion. Firstly my first spread in an Australian magazine, TFF (Textile Fibre Forum) #122 June 16, which shows the way in which my work has changed and progressed over 40 years of making and exhibiting, and then a piece from the wonderful Diana Springall collection of contemporary embroidery was featured and discussed on “MAKE! Craft Britain”, an hour long programme presented by Martha Kearney, on mainstream UK TV BBC4 June 9th 2016. This foray into the world of stitching set about de-bunking the theory that embroidery is craft  rather than art, and Diana eloquently explained why  Britain is still at the fore of embroidery. From the mid 1950s art schools taught  embroidery students alongside the painters and sculptors. Students had to draw, and had to acquire the same skills as well as heir own technical expertise, and I was lucky enough to study at Goldsmiths Art School in the mid-late 60s in this way. Drawing has been fundamental to my own personal progress in textile art, and I have all my sketchbooks since 1980 in my studio, a permanent  reference library, as well as a visual diary.

Here is Spanish Lavender, the piece featured on the TV progamme, 43cm x53cm approx.Spanish Lavender DS collection

and here one of my many drawings Drawing Castille 2

and another

Cepeda drawing001


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The owners of this terrific website have started producing ebooks for sale. This is such a good idea, bringing the world of contemporary textiles to a wide audience at very affordable prices. I am delighted to say that I have a chapter in their most recent book, A Response to Landscape. This includes some fabulous work by other artists so well worth taking a look. I’ve now created a new PAGE here on my blog called which has links to several books including the aforementioned one. Do take a look.

In the meantime here are some of the images of mine that you can see. I talk about the way in which landscape has been a major influence on my life and my work. Both these images are based on the South Downs where I live. A summers day catching glimpses of poppies in the distance, and the Downs near Goodwood, which I see as soon as I start to travel north out of my home town Chichester

CN Where poppies bloom

downs near Goodwood

Petworth Revisited


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I wrote about my work for the Capability Brown Festival in my last entry, explaining how Petworth House in West Sussex was my inspiration, but this was not the first time I had used this beautiful venue for my work. Back in 1997 I relinquished my  post as principal lecturer in the Fine Art department at Chichester University in order to free lance and concentrate purely on making my own work. This was a pretty scary step at the time, waking up each day with no timetable and no commitments other than going ot my studio to stitch! I began to apply for anything that looked possible for textile art, and saw a Festival of Craftmanship advertised. This was being organised by the Surrey Guild with Crafts Council support. Nothing venture, nothing gained, they wanted applications for commissioned pieces. I had  carried out a commission for St Richards hospital in Chichester earlier in 1997, and this had been the catalyst that made me stop teaching. The brief for the commissions was to make work inspired by Petworth as the festival was to be held there in 1998. I was delighted when my ideas and designs were accepted.

As you will see from the images that follow, my work was completely different nearly 20 years ago! At that point architecture was the theme I had been working with, so the house provided me with wonderful starting points. I made a diptych (approx 55cm x 130 cm) each panel for the commission, and made several more pieces that explored architectural features in Chichester and Petworth. I don’t have really good photos of the work, but I think the following gives a clear idea. Here is the diptych where you can see the architectural features of the house and gardens, followed by a detail.

Petworth hanging

Petworth detail small copy


drawings of building features Petworth drawing 4 copyPetworth urn 2

and finally one of the other embroideries I made which I still have at home! September Haze, Petworth, 76cm x 60cm approx

Petworth, September copy















Capability Brown Festival


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Capability Brown Festival with the Embroiderers’ Guild Guild CB logo - Docs res copy

This year is the tri-centenary of the birth of the landscape architect Capability Brown, often referred to as England’s greatest gardener, who in the 18th century transformed the gardens of many of the country’s stately homes by his radical approach. The formal layouts so popular in France and Italy that had influenced the UK, were abandoned in favour of the natural landscape. This is what the UK Embroiderers Guild say-

“As the first ever celebration of Brown’s work, the Capability Brown Festival brings together a huge range of events. The Embroiderers’ Guild is delighted to be a Festival Partner and is contributing to the celebrations with a series of unique textile exhibitions at venues across the country throughout 2016”

For more information visit the guild website at https://

I am honoured to be amongst the textile artists invited to exhibit in a series of exhibitions throughout 2016. For this, I visited Petworth House near our home in West Sussex. I’ve been there many times, and indeed nearly 20 years ago made work for a festival in 1998 there, when I used the house and the iconic temples in the grounds, as my starting points. This time the grounds were much more significant. I walked, looked, made mental notes and took photos, as early winter isnt the best time to draw outside. 

The piece I have made especially for the Festival is called “The Lake at Petworth” as the lake proved both a challenge and a change of imagery for me. The paintings of Turner, who drew and painted there provided additional food for thought, and I used his glorious golds to inspire my sky.
You can see this at venues that include the NEC Birmingham and the Knitting and Stitching shows in London and Harrogate.  I am delighted that it has already featured on the guild website to advertise the Festival, and by the Landscape Institute (Royal chartered body for landscape architects) in their February newsletter.
Lake I never try to imitate what I see, but I adapt aspects of form, colour and light and once I start stitching, the photos and sketches are put away, so that I simply create my own response. The whole piece follows where you can see the free edging. This has been sewn to a white box canvas. Embroidery size 35 x 45cm approx, mounted to 50 x 60cm

Naylor, C The Lake at Petworth 1 new

And here is the centre part so that you can see the detail. In my next post I will show you the work I made in 1998!

Petworth Lake, Autumn_edited-1

Looking back


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I’ve recently been looking back at some of my much earlier work and can see how much it has changed over the years. When I lectured full time I spent most of my time exploring ideas and techniques with my students. I began using a mixture of hand and machine embroidery, but made paper, explored felt making, used dyes, batik and other textile media. Behind it all were my sketch books. Observation and experience was always my starting points, no matter how much I abstracted or changed the initial imagery. Here are some much earlier pieces going back to the 80s and 90s  to compare and contrast for those who are familiar with my recent work.

This piece was based on the local landscape meeting the sea. 1983, 60cm  x42cm approx. Hand made paper with mixed media drawing, embedded pieces of dyed of silk and threads, and some simple hand embroidery

Paper sea001 copy

The next piece from 1988 uses pulp poured onto a ground of handmade paper with additional fibres and stitch and is part of a larger piece which was 50cm x 37cm. The starting points were menhirs and other standing stones


Moving on to the 90s I went back to machine embroidery, where I’ve remained ever since despite huge changes in imagery and style

Carol Naylor Beach Umbrellas 1993

The piece above was based on drawings from the Costa Brava in Spain, made in 1993. Some variegated threads were used alongside a limited palette of bright colours to reflect the heat of the day

Heres the first drawing done in situ. pencil, so quite delicate but I hope it’s clear enough

beach Umbrella sketch001

and one of the designs I made from it, although I only used aspects of this in the embroidery as I felt it was too fussy!

beach Umbrella sketch 3



Sew ‘Scapes


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Delighted to see my article called Sew’Scapes so beautifully produced in the Annual Be Inspired by Workbox magazine vol 4 now published. This magazine has really developed into a super read, with beautiful images well printed and displayed in all the articles. Having an 8 page spread is a real treat– Other artists who are featured include Michelle Cook, another UK textile artist who looks at the land in a very different way to me. Bethany Walker mixes cement with stitch, wonderfully different, and  other artists working in the Netherlands, Australia and Kenya have stunning work to look at as well. It’s good to see conceptual pieces alongside delicate botanical images and I feel honoured to be in such good company.

Here are a couple of the pages from my article. Even if you’ve seen the textiles before, I hope those who read the magazine will find that the text gave an insight into my working methods. I also rather like the way the pages have curled into folds when photographed Maybe I should try and develop this in my future embroideries–

Workbox article 3

Workbox article 2

You can find out more about the magazine on facebook, twitter and pinterest

Selecting Ideas


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I’m often asked what I am going to do next, and the answer is usually I dont know, I have to wait and see. I am constantly looking at land formations, light patterns, textures and so on, and will draw or make notes without knowing exactly where my thinking will end. This summer we visited friends who live in a small village on the banks of the Loire. We went out drawing, watched the river change daily at different times, and passed fields of varying colours and textures. On one journey, a splash of brilliant purple colour in the distance was too intriguing not to investigate, and we couldn’t identify the source from a distance. When we reached the field we found delphiniums being grown, perhaps for seed. A riot of pink, purple, blue and white, set against a golden green backdrop. Here I’m showing you the flowers, a drawing I did, and a small embroidery that I made on our return to the UK.

Delph photo

Delph 2 pic

My drawing took about two hours, pencil, ink, and fibre tipped pens that run when you wet them. I tried here to extract enough information to be able to start stitching.

Delph drawing001

and this is the first small piece I made. It found a new home on its first outing. My intentions are to go forward from this and work a larger piece that is perhaps more abstract, looking at the contrasting shapes and colours. I never seek to imitiate, only to investigate.


and finally a detail, I haven’t tried to draw individual flowers, but to say something about the ways in which the colours overlap and merge. If these ideas do develop I’ll show them in a future post!

Delphiniums stitch detail

Land and Sea


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A quick post to catch up after three weeks away charging my creative batteries in Spain, and I’m now thinking of my next series of machine embroideries. This year both the wonderful landscape of the meseta and the Cantabrian sea at Isla have offered me ideas. I have used Spanish landscape on many an occasion, but this year dramatic changes in the weather on the northern coast produced some wonderfully contrasting sunrises. I hope to start a series of small images that explore sky and sea as well as land. Here are just some of the sunrises and also an amazing red field seen in Castille, with a drawing also from this area near Covarrubias, so look out for future developments. Light and shadow, sol y sombra so difficult to capture but what most of my work is really about. The final image is called “Sol y Sombra” that is sun and shadow and is from an earlier series. It found a new home this summer

Isla 2

Isla 4Isla 1


EPSON scanner image

sol y sombra, size of embroidery 32cm x34cm approx

Naylor, Sol y Sombra