Embroideries for Rivercourt Methodist Church
  The Artist Angela Dewar writes:  

I received the commission in July 2001. The brief was for ' a piece of work that represents the distinctive situation of our church at Rivercourt - its proximity to the river (not least the name Rivercourt) and the urban and West London context.'

After several visits to Hammersmith (a place I knew only by name), taking many photographs and talking to the members, I was able to begin to design a rough idea for the embroideries. I attended morning worship around Christmas time to get the feel of the place during a service.

My idea was to represent the urban environment by using rectangular blocks of coloured silk, overlaid with a stitched representation of actual buildings in the area.

Talking to the congregation helped me a lot when local details were needed. Your minister mentioned the modern building of the medical centre. Another member felt that the Fulham football ground was an important feature, which should be included. There was a general desire to show people within the city-scape (something that I was doubtful about but which, I feel, has been a very successful part of the design.)


The River, park, school, other prominent churches, the flyover, traffic, a pub, the underground railway and the idea of the commuter are all represented. I have tried to include all aspects of urban community life.

The colours were to be the traditional white, green, purple and red, but the existing pink furnishings demanded a very careful choice of background colours. I am lucky to have an interior designer in the place where I live and he was able to furnish me with sympathetic fabrics for the work. I have an extensive collection of silk fabric, which is my preferred choice for the decorative part of my work. The colours are always rich and varied and I love working with silk.

Once all the design information had been collected, I presented my first, full sized draft to the committee. After one or two alterations, the design was approved by the church council and I was given the 'go ahead' to begin work.

I began with the green set, as this is the one most in use. My original plan was to deliver the sets one at a time but I soon realised that I needed to keep them all together to retain some continuity in the work. Any artist will confirm that the work seems to have a will of its own and develops and changes as it proceeds. To avoid too much change I needed to keep an eye on what had gone before! So my spare bedroom has been rather full of Rivercourt for the past seven or eight months.


As usual, I found that parts which I thought would be really difficult proved to be less of a problem than other, seemingly simple areas. The wrought iron gates of the park were a bit of a trial !!.

The river, on the other hand, seemed to be less difficult than I had expected and was fun to do. I always enjoy putting hidden symbols within the work and the fish, boat and waves came into being fairly easily. The fish I chose is a dolphin, which is also the symbol of the Resurrection. I understand that the modern Fulham stadium, as supplied to me by the club, may now never be built, so it has a rather strange place within the portrait of Hammersmith!

One of the surprises for me was the large amount of green spaces in the area. I always like using trees in my work. In the red hangings the leaves of the trees are meant to be rather flame like to add to the Pentecostal symbolism of the colour.


The most tedious part of the embroidery was the large number of railings and the river bridge - the long sweep of railings seemed to go on for ever!!
During the course of the work, my favourite sewing machine has had its third new motor and a new needle shaft!! The man who services my machines says I give them about ten times the average use. I do believe him.
I do hope that everyone will find something to enjoy in the new work for your church. There should be something fresh to notice for several months to come .

Angela Dewar August 2002



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