Aran Illingworth MSDC

Stitched & Constructed Textiles

About Aran
Aran is a textile artist specialising in portraiture and depiction of the human figure in textiles. She originally worked as a trained nurse, specialised in psychiatry. She left nursing in order to bring up her son, but eventually returned to education, completing a degree in textiles from the University of Hertfordshire. Now established as a textile artist, she has spent several years perfecting her work and the techniques that she uses. She currently exhibits her work both in the UK and internationally.
Biography Back to top

Aran's work focuses on portraiture and depiction of the human figure in textiles, inspired by the people around her and using photographs as an input. Her work is a visual narrative, which is intended to convey a certain emotion and which focuses on subjects carrying a specific message and meaning.

The gaze of the portrait toward the viewer has remained a constant focal point in her work over the years, as has her search for a narrative based on faces, context and gestures. The work is all hand sewn using cotton thread.

Over time, she has developed a sewing technique that allows her to blend colours and establish tonalities that resemble the techniques used in paintings. The direction in which the threads are sewn mimics the way brush marks are layered within a painting which, in turn, creates an illusion of depth, volume, and form. Her stitching methodology borders on the obsessive, but ultimately allows her visually to evoke painterly renditions of flesh, hair, and cloth.

A few years ago, her work generally had a feminist dimension, which was particularly evident in work focused on poverty. More recently, however, her work has addressed an increasingly wide range of other concerns, whether based on social issues or political ones. For instance, some of her recent work is on dementia, taking as input a photographic image taken from a series focusing on the photographer’s own mother, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s. Such images can grab the viewers’ attention and leave an indelible impression. The results can be profound and transformative.

Aran's main aim is to continue working and researching and in the process to contribute to the debates taking place in textiles. She is committed to help keeping traditional embroidery techniques alive at a time when so many of the opportunities to learn them have disappeared.

Resumé Back to top


BA (Hons) | 2010 | University of Hertfordshire

· Subject: Applied Arts

· Classification: First Class Honours

BTEC Diploma | 2005 | Huntingdon Regional College

· Subject: Art and Design

· Grade: Merit

Work Experience

Textile Technician at Kimbolton School

· 2008 to 2017

Registered Mental/General Nurse

· 1975 to 1994

Current Exhibitions

2nd - 21st July 2018 The Hand of the Maker, Designer Crafts Summer Exhibition 2018, Chelsea College of Art & Design, 16 John Islip St, Westminster, London SW1P 4JU

Upcoming Exhibitions

1st - 29th Sept 2017 Open exhibition, Lovelys gallery, 248 Northdown Road, Margate, Kent CT9 2PX·

20th July - 18th October 2018 - The Art of Caring, St Pancras hospital, Conference Centre gallery, 4 St. Pancras Way, London, NW1 0PE

7th - 17th June 2018 Broadway Festival 2018, Little Buckland Gallery, Little Buckland, Broadway, WR127JH

· 30th May - 10th June 2018 Transience, Prism, Arch 402 Gallery, Hoxton Arches, Cremer Street, London E2 8HD

7th - 28th April 2018 Handmade, Lovelys Gallery, 248 Northdown Road, Margate, Kent CT9 2PX

· 2nd - 21st July 2018 The Hand of the Maker, Designer Crafts Summer Exhibition 2018, Chelsea College of Art & Design, 16 John Islip St, Westminster, London SW1P 4JU

11th October – 5th November 2018 Sewing Circle Rethread, St Pancras Hospital, Conference Centre Gallery, 4 St. Pancras way, London NW1 0PE

Previous Exhibitions


· 18th October - 29th October 2017 - Another View Exhibition, Prism, ARCH 402 GALLERY, Hoxton Arches, Cremer Street, London E2 8HD

28th September – 1st October 2017 A Letter in Mind - A Sense of Place, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, London SE1 9PH

· 10th - 13th August 2017 - Festival of Quilts, NEC, Birmingham

· 26th Aug - 16th Sept 2017 Open exhibition, Lovelys gallery, 248 Northdown Road, Margate, Kent CT9 2PX

· 20th July - 19th October 2017 - The Art of Caring, St Pancras hospital, Conference Centre gallery, 4 St. Pancras way, London, NW1 0PE

· 3rd -12th May 2017 – The Art of Caring, St. George's Hospital London

· 29th April - 13th May 2017 - Another View Exhibition, RBSA Gallery, 4 Brook Street, Birmingham B3 1SA


· Collect Connect retrospective, Kensington and Chelsea College, London SW10 0GS

· A Letter in Mind - A view on Nature, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, London,

· Designer Crafts at the Mall 2016, Mall Gallery, London

· The Art of Caring, St Pancras Hospital, Conference Centre Gallery, 4 St. Pancras Way, London, NW1 0PE

· The Lichfield Prize 2016, Emporium Gallery, Lichfield, Staff.

· Fracture Exhibition, Prism, Hoxton Arch, Hoxton, London

· University of Hertfordshire Alumni exhibition 2016, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, Herts

· Art of Caring 2016, The Rose Theatre, Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey

· Agenda, Prism textile group, Hiscox Art Café, The Hiscox Building,1 Great St. Helen's, London, EC3A 6HX


· Extreme Fibers: Textile Icons and the New Edge,Dennos Museum Center, Traverse City, Michigan, USA

· A Letter in Mind - The Art of a Journey. Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, London,

· "Anatomy For Life" 2015, (Brighton and Sussex Medical School) Brighton Jubilee Library, Brighton

· Extreme Fibers: Textile Icons and the New Edge, Muskegon Museum of Art, 296 W Webster Ave, Muskegon, MI 49440, USA

· Electric Open 2015, Electric Picture House, Cross Street, Congleton, Cheshire CW12 1HQ

· Lines of Communication, Prism, Hoxton Arch, Hoxton, London

· Art of Caring, The Rose Theatre, 24-26 High Street, Kingston-upon-Thames, KT1 1HL.

· Sweet Art, Y Not, International Women's Day, Espacio Gallery, 159, Bethnal Green Road, London E2 7DG

· "COIN CUSINE" ... du cote des ustensiles; a touring European exhibition visiting 3 locations in France, Germany and the Czech Republic


· "COIN CUSINE" ... du cote des ustensiles (continued) – touring exhibition visiting 10 locations in France and Germany

· Open Art 2014 - Black Swan Gallery, 2 Bridge Street, Frome, Somerset BA11 1BB.

· Solo Exhibition “Madonna and Child” in Bradford Cathedral, Bradford

· A Letter in Mind, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, London,

· Knitting and Stitching Show 2014, Prism Textiles showing in: London, Dublin and Harrogate

· Solo exhibition 2014, Artistsmeet Contemporary art gallery, Watersmeet, Rickmansworth

· Code Decode, Prism, Mall Gallery, London

· Designer Crafts at the Mall 2014, Society Designer Craftsmen, Mall Gallery, London


· Fiberart International 2013; a touring US exhibition showing at (1) San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, San Jose, California, US and (2) Exhibition of Contemporary Fiberart, Pittsburg, PA, US

NN Open Exhibition, Number Nine, Guild Road, Northampton

· Madonna and Children - Stitched Stories, Derby Cathedral Center, Derby

· Open Exhibition, Letchworth Arts Centre, Letchworth, Herts

· Shoosmiths Art Prize, MK Arts for Health, Milton Keynes, Bucks

· Harley Gallery Open Exhibition 2013, Harley Gallery, Welbeck, Worksop, Nottinghamshire


· Contemporary Craft Open 2012, Unit twelve, Tixall Heath Farm, Tixall, Stafford

· Making Stories', ArtVanGo Studio, Knebworth, Herts

· 'Culture Cloud', New Art Exchange, Nottingham

· 'Labour of Love', Solo exhibition, Beetroot Tree Gallery,Draycott, Derbyshire

· Saltaire Arts Trail, Open House, Saltaire, Bradford

· 15th international Open, Womanmade Gallery, Chicago, IL, USA

· Exhibition, for the work on the theme 'H is for' Harley Gallery, Welbeck, Worksop, Nottinghamshire

· Designer Crafts at the Mall 2012, Society Designer Craftsmen, Mall Gallery, London

· Hertfordshire Open Exhibition 2011, University of Hertfordshire Galleries at the Museum of St. Albans, St. Albans


· Art in Woodstock 2011, Woodstock

· Craft in the Bay Summer Show 2011, The makers guild in Wales, Cardiff

· 15th Annual Exhibition 'Her Story' The Link Gallery, Winchester

· Art ,Design and A taste of Summer, Blenheim Palace, Oxford

· RBSA 'Prize' exhibition, Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, RBSA Gallery, Birmingham

· Rising Stars 2011, New Ashgate Gallery, Farnham

· The Women's Art Show 2011Fairfields Art Centre, Basingstoke

· Contemporary Textile 2011,Landmark Arts Centre,Teddington

Articles and Publications

Textile Art Around the World | Ellen Bakker | 2015

· An overview of the various disciplines and techniques from within the textile world presenting 160 artists from around the globe

Handmade in Britain: Contenporary Artisans | Piyush Suri | 2012

· A book investigating crafts-people and their work in fields such as jewellery, ceramics, textiles, furniture and other craft

Other Articles:

· Fberart Now Textile fiber Forum magazine’s 122 in the readers

· Aran Illingworth | Artsbeat – Derbyshire's free arts magazine


· Fiberart International vol 3 issue 1 Fall 2013

· Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania · Page 61 May 10, 2013

· Aran Illingworth: Embracing Indian heritage


· BBC Wales report on Crafts in the Bay 2011

· Fairfields Art Centre, Basingstoke: Fairfields' fine show by ladies by Joanna Mace, 10/03/2011 in the Basingstoke Gazette


The People’s Prize, Broadway Festival 2018 open exhibition, Little Buckland Gallery, Little Buckland, Broadway 2018: awarded for work ‘Fractured Memory – Who Is That?’

Best in Show at the 2017 Open Exhibition | Lovely’s Gallery, Margate | 2017

· This was awarded for my work “The Three Graces”

People’s Prize at the ‘H’ Thenes Exhibition PEOPLE’S PRIZE AT THE ‘H’ | Harley Gallery | 2012

· This was awarded for my work “Madonna and Child”

UH Alumni Prize | Hertfordshire College OPen Exhibition | 2011

· This was awarded for my work “I’m a big girl now"

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