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thenastywoman  #OfHo

The Subversiver Stitcher

For as long as I can remember I have always been making something. In retrospect, I may well have picked this desire to create up from my nan and my mum, who were always making something as well.


I was an analogue child that was closer to the make do and mend generation than the digital children of the 21 century, who have a screen that feeds their desires, but not necessarily their creativity.

For that I will always be truly grateful.

I always loved to embroider, but as the years passed and my life became more focused on single parenting and domestic issues, I seemed to have lost the desire to create. I just lost my creative mojo.


Then one day, several years ago, I attended an exhibition on mental health and saw the most incredible sight. It was a sampler that had been sewn by an inmate of a Victorian Asylum.

The inmate Mary Frances Heaton had used a needle and thread and other accessible materials to petition Queen Victoria about her own personal experiences of her own social injustice that had befallen her.

In that moment, as I stood there looking at this piece. I was transfixed and amazed by her ingenuity and her passion to be heard.

Her passion reignited my desire to create and to use embroidery and textiles as a basis to draw attention to social issues and to empower women, especially those that deserve more attention than afforded them.


Mary was incarcerated for 41 years, but she never gave up using her voice. I like to think you can hear an echo of her in mine.

Since then, my work has featured in solo exhibitions as well a group shows.

I am continuously inspired and welcome all interest in my work, exhibitions, commissions and collaborations,

I am happy to report that my creative desire has now been fully reinstated.



Fighting Talk/Shefest  2 – 15 March Chapel Walk Galley Sheffield


Dame of the Hour  6 – 22 March St James Wine Vaults Bath


Thumbnail Group Show  9 May – 23 May Nolia's Gallery London


Solo Show  19 June – 29 July 44AD Artspace Bath


50/50 Group Show  3 August – 23 August Crow's Nest Gallery London


Cash is King  30 August – 8 September The Saatchi Gallery London

BLACK Group Show 18 December - 20 December The Crypt Gallery Euston Road,


Work donated to Fivers4artists Cas


Viva Iconic Group Show May 18 - Viva Dalston 2 Stoke Newington Rd, Hackney Downs, London N16 7XN

One Love Group Show May 26 -  London 

Cash is King 2  Money Talks - Notes featured in the second publication, exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery 21 August - 8 September.

Cash is King - Mad in Margate Group Show - 18 October - 3 November 

Artgame 18 Marine Drive, Margate, Kent UK CT9 1DH

For The Love Of Money Art Exhibition - 9 November - 31 December Studio 45,  45 Marshalls Row, Brighton BN1 4JU

S.E.W International Contemporary Stitched Art Exhibition - 12 November - 17 November The Clerkenwell Gallery, 20 Clerkenwell Road, London, EC1R 0DP

The Foreplay Art Show -1 of 4 Female Artists Group Show 24 November - 31 December

At The Other One Gallery Art Space 1 The Cockpit, Saffron Walden, Essex
CB10 1HJ

5 YEARS 50 PHING THINGS CHRISTMAS CHARITY AUCTION - The Ben Oakley Gallery Greenwich Market, 9 Turnpin Lane, Greenwich, London, SE10 9JA - 14 December


The Time of Her Life   Virtual Group Show May 1-31

Hands Off The Wall 

Street Art & Graffiti Festival For Women 30 July - 1 August Munich

The Volatile State  Virtual Group Show August 1 - 31

Background Bob and His Amazing Friends  Guess Who's Back  - Firstsite, Lewis Gardens, High Street,
Colchester, Essex, CO1 1JH18 September 2021 - Sunday 9 January 2022 

London International Paste-Up Festival November 4 - 7

Mirror Mirror on the Wall - The House of Smalls 6 November - 4 December


The Covid Chronicles Touring Exhibitions UK 2022 - 2023

I Am Woman Project 

Instagram @iamwomanproject  - To create 2D panel/banner/hanging featuring a woman constructed from individual fabric patches denoting the experiences of women.

Confined - The House of Smalls 15 May - June 12

Shadow - The House of Smalls 26 - 29 August

Time of Her Life II - The House of Smalls 26 - 29 August



Sweary Dusters in Collaboration with The Profanity Embroidery Group (PEG)
Twelve Taps Gin Bar, Whitstable: 15th – 28th February

Walk The Line - The House of Smalls Gallery 2 - 18 March

Through Her Eyes:A Celebration of Female Artists - The Lyric Hammersmith 9 - 31 March

Made up entirely of art by local female artists, this exhibition aims to celebrate the world through their eyes and share their stories.

The Subverted Vintage Tea Towel Series - Newark Works Bath 26 May - 11 June 

The Subverted Vintage Tea Towels 

The Time Of Her Life III - The House of Smalls Gallery 27 May - 24 June 

Group show

Doll - The House of Smalls Gallery July 8 - 5 August

Group show 

BOLLOCKS & PYAMAS EXHIBITION - Atom Gallery, 127 Green Lanes, London N16 9DA

Nov 11 - Dec 2 

Group show 

We Are The Witches  The House of Smalls Gallery 11 Nov - 16 Dec

Re-Embroidering Blackwork The Unstitched Coif & Other Works Bloc Projects 19 - 23 Dec


Pillowtalk -  7 February - ongoing

The Subversive Stitcher Tea Towel Series  2020 - 2024 Riverside Studios London March 7th - April 29th

Publications & Interviews 

Cash is King 2018

Cash is King 2 2019

Unravelling Women's Art 2020/21

Background Bob 2 2021

The Covid Chronicles 2022

Embroidery Magazine 2022


Online interview with The Fashion and Textile Museum 


Ministry of Arts Podcast

Ep.249 Holly Searle aka The Subversive Stitcher



The Fashion and Textile Museum - Subversive Stitching Tea Towels


Newark Works Bath - Subverted Stitching Tea Towels

The Fashion and Textile Museum - Subversive Stitching


The Fashion and Textile Museum - Subversive Stitching


Dame of The Hour Prize 2018

Helen Putler Arts Prize 2023 -


I Am Woman Project 2022 - Instagram @iamwomanproject22

A joint collaborations between myself and several female artists to create a woman out of patches that record their experience of being a woman. Ongoing,  



Making you think with a needle and thread

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