Lucie Bea Dutton

I am a textile artist and I work entirely by hand. Much of my work is inspired by the writing of Hilary Mantel, specifically her Thomas Cromwell Trilogy (2009-2020). I trained as a historian, and my experience of archival research and analysing primary source materials now form an important element of my practice. Place also plays a vital role: visiting locations associated with Cromwell is possible again after the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic, and finding emblems that I have stitched, or, conversely, exploring previously unvisited sites, constantly expands the scope of my project. I stitch to audiobooks, scribbling thoughts for future pieces on index cards, and these cards may wait for a year or more until a firmer concept has taken root.  

I have been working with Ruth since 2020. Her support has enhanced the ambition of my work, encouraged me to take it seriously, and to remain true to my creative values.

Photographer © Michael Wicks

Work One: The Book of Queens
On my notice board, a card reads: The Book of Queens. From this, I developed Cromwell’s “Remembrances” of the emblems, mottos, dates, and fates of the four queens he knew. Forty four pages of quilting, embroidery, paint, buckram and pewter represent odd papers bound together as his knowledge grew incrementally.

Work Two: Heads of Anne
Following close reading of Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell Trilogy, this series represents Cromwell’s impressions of Anne Boleyn: from dreams, imaginings, and observance. Text references to an “awkward little backstitch” led to the choice of stitch for these uncomfortable images.

Work Three: The Weepers
Mourning the untimely death of Hilary Mantel in September 2022 I could only take to my needle. Inspired by 16th Century Weeper Tombs, I asked myself “Who would weep for Cromwell?” Each Weeper holds a book, from which emerges a quote from the trilogy. It is a piece of work I wish so much I hadn’t had to make.