Wednesday 5 October 2011

Meetings With Remarkable Women - Sophie Pattinson

It was a great pleasure to meet Sophie Pattinson at the recent Textile Society's Fair in London. Sophie graduated with a first class honours degree in textile design and for several years worked as a freelance textile artist creating large scale painted and woven tapestries for offices and public buildings. Then, after completing a Winston Churchill Traveling Scholarship to India in 1998 Sophie was asked by the European Union to head a project aimed at providing women in certain areas of Bangladesh, where living standards were extremely low, with skills necessary to help them make their own living.
She went to Bangladesh in 1999 and found that many of the women living in the chosen rural areas had little or no experience of embroidery. She embarked on training eight groups of 20 women with a view to producing embroidered items with designs suitable for the European market. Unfortunately, after 10 months the European Union withdrew their funding and discontinued the project. So, being the remarkable woman she is, Sophie decided to take up the project independently. After raising her own funds she went back to Bangladesh to continue her work with two of the groups involved previously. She makes frequent visits, often for periods of up to four or five months at a time, to work on new designs, newly commissioned 'one-off' items and to train more women. After each trip she brings back a selection of completed work for sale. She enjoys her project and is very happy to visit the women's families and see their earning being used, often for their children's education and even in some cases, to start saving for the future.
The inspiration for Sophie's designs ranges widely from, for example, the gentle humorous sketches of Edward Lear to the complex styles of turbans worn in India. She specialises in designing individually - commissioned items. If you would like to support the rural women embroiderers of Bangladesh would you please consider inviting Sophie to show these beautiful embroideries at any social event with which you may be involved. I think you will agree that Sophie is a remarkable person. Do visit Sophie to say hello and send a few words of encouragement by clicking here.

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