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Archive Five by Julia O'Connell, textile panels in the Frith Room

Julia O'Connell is a textile artist based in Coventry. Stitch, whether by hand or machine, is the core process of Julia’s practice. People, memory and stories are the connecting thread in the five panels Julia created for the Heritage Hub.

The five linen panels are digitally printed and hand stitched celebrating the archives. Julia wanted to represent the archive ephemera that one might come across in the collections, and as a result her work features a postcard design, a letter, a parish record, an industrial drawing and a publication print.

Like all of our artists, Julia spent time at the Archives taking in the atmosphere, talking to staff and partners and exploring the strong rooms. The Frith Room, where her panels now hang, was still a building site when Julia visited to see the space where her panels would be hung.

Inspiration for Julia's panels came from documents in the Archives, the many conversations Julia had with volunteers from the Family History Centre, Gloucestershire Police Archive, the Dowty project, Chipping Campden and Blockley Local history Associations and of course Archives’ staff.

Julia also visited a care home in Chipping Campden running a session with residents who spoke about their lives and shared their memories.

 Julia looking at the beautiful embroidery and lace made by one of the residents

Julia experimented with a laser cutter. Using the Gloucestershire family History Centre logo and text from A Song of Gloucestershire by F.W.Harvey, she laser cut and engraved on fabric. She particularly liked the effect of the cut out words and how it mirrors the disintegration of iron gall text in old manuscripts (middle photograph).

Julia finished her beautiful printed and embroidered textile panels, called Archive Five in December 2018 and these are now hanging in the Frith room. For more information see the pdf outlining Julia’s process.

In September 2018, after the panels were finished Julia gave a lecture about her work talking about her process and other commissioned work she has completed for other organisations.

Julia presenting her work to visitors

The panels in situ in the Frith Room


Download the PDF detailing the sources of inspiration behind Archive Five

To see more of Julia’s work visit her website


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