Artist, embroiderer & collector of stories

Artist Ali Ferguson


Telling Stories in Cloth

I’m a ‘home bird’. My family and home are the most important things in my world and since becoming a mother aged 23, my home has been my kingdom. Having also been my work base over the subsequent 35 years, it’s really no surprise that this is also where my passion lies with my artwork.

If I were a scientist or a traveller then I’m sure my work would be very different. I’d have different, perhaps more exciting, stories to tell. But I’m not. In truth, for many years I’ve had a sense of inferiority around this, and my stitching became my way of making sense of these feelings.

I therefore draw my inspiration from the everyday. Everyday people and everyday things. I’m endlessly fascinated by ordinary people and their stories, particularly their reflections and memories of home and working lives. I believe that at the heart of most ordinary stories lie extraordinary people and my stitching is my way of acknowledging this.

My creativity is sparked by snippets of daily life: a random observation or often a well worn ‘treasure’ that comes into my possession. I’m collector of ‘stuff’ and a thinker. I lie awake at 3am thinking and wondering about things. I love to follow these ‘threads of thought’ to see where they will take me.

Telling stories of everyday lives through stitch
Telling stories of imagined lives from the text of old letters

I love words and text and they feature strongly in my work, mostly in the form of handwriting taken from old letters and postcards. The words are meticulously hand stitched, a slow and thoughtful process that leaves a permanent mark of something that may have been insignificant or is almost certainly long forgotten.

Capturing emotions felt at the moment that pen touches paper

I’m drawn to using discarded materials, often old pieces of clothing or domestic textiles. Materials previously used, washed and worn carry their own hidden stories. I love the thought that an old piece of clothing is implanted with stories of the wearer or that a piece of vintage table linen holds the secrets of a household.

I layer and patch these ‘scraps of the past’ together, combining them with hand stitch. This inevitably becomes a slow and thoughtful process – there’s something so personal about leaving your mark with needle and thread. The stories I tell are imagined but the real stories are also present, lying within the fabric, remaining hidden among the layers.

There is a story behind every piece of my textile work  -you can find out more about some of these on my blog

I am a member of the Society of Embroidered Work

I also have two fabulous photographer friends Michael Graham and Carole Fitzgerald of Lazy Sunday. I wouldn’t have such beautiful images on my website without them.

Period Living article about Ali FergusonFind out more:

Cloth Work

Wood Work



Read more about my work and influences at Textile