Spotlight: James Gladwell

Stitching a line, and then another
2 September, 2022
Artist James Gladwell, visiting Avant Gardeners at Houghton Hall Stables
Artist James Gladwell, visiting Avant Gardeners at Houghton Hall Stables
James Gladwell draws directly with pencil onto found pieces of plain, usually fine cotton fabric. The cotton can be anything that is uniformally white, an old irish linen table cloth, a pillow case or a napkin. He tailors his designs to the dimensions of the cloth, before sewing over the intricate drawn lines with colourful cotton threads in cross stitch.
"My family are Romany Gypsies. My Nan showed me how to do the needlework when I was seven. I only do one stitch and that’s cross stitch. If I get things in my head, I start drawing. Some of my work is from my dreams. If I dream something I’ve got to put it down on the cloth right away. I have the cloth on my lap with a lamp and my music on. I keep the gypsy way of life going in my needlework. I’d be lost without doing the sewing".
James Gladwell won the Norwich Assembly House Art Show prize in 2013 and the coveted Outside In Award at the Radical Craft exhibition in 2016. His prize was The Dreams - a solo exhibition at Pallant House Gallery in Sussex, 2017. He also won the Brown&Co prize at Inheritance: Norwich Castle Open Art Show in 2018, and again in 2019.
James was one of the first artists to attend the Barrington Farm Centre in Walcott on the North Norfolk coast when it opened in 1987. At the heart of the centre is a fully equipped art studio in a converted barn that supports over 40 artists to express themselves and find a voice through their creativity. The barn is open every weekday all year round and is staffed by qualified, practising artists. James also works at his home in nearby Mundesley, often sewing late into the evening.


About the author

Paul Barratt, Director and Curator at Contemporary and Country

Paul Barratt

Paul Barratt started working in contemporary art galleries in 1989, having graduated in Fine Art from Goldmsith’s, London University. He initially worked at Anthony d’Offay Gallery, one of the contemporary art dealers, who dominated the London art market in the 80s and 90s. He was approached by the Lisson Gallery to be gallery manager for the influential art dealer Nicholas Logsdail. This was followed by a short period in New York at Gladstone Gallery, to work for visionary art dealer Barbara Gladstone, working with the artist and filmmaker Matthew Barney.


On his return to London, Paul secured a place on the postgraduate curatorial course at the Royal College of Art, to complete an MA. After graduation in 2001, he worked as an independent curator on several projects in Oslo, London, Brighton and Basel, before joining Paul Vater at his design agency Sugarfree in 2004. He has worked with Paul ever since.