Embroidered panorama of the City of London created by prison social enterprise unveiled by the Lord Mayor

A magnificent embroidered panorama of the River Thames and City of London will be unveiled by the Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Alan Yarrow, and dedicated by the Dean of Southwark, the Very Revd. Andrew Nunn in a private ceremony to be held at Glaziers’ Hall, London SE1 9DD at 5.30pm on Monday, 6th July.

Entitled ‘Stained Glass in Stitches’, the vibrant and colourful triptych wall hanging features iconic City landmarks such as St Paul’s Cathedral, 30 St Mary Axe (better known as ‘The Gherkin’), Tower Bridge, Southwark Cathedral as well as the Glaziers’ Foundation’s own Thames Waterman Cutter, a boat used in rowing races and ceremonial occasions on the river. The wall hanging’s viewpoint is from Glaziers’ Hall, with its superb view from the south bank of the City opposite. It was commissioned by Peter Doe, Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Glaziers (2009), and his wife, Liveryman Janet Doe, and will be displayed at key ceremonial events held by the livery company.

‘Stained Glass in Stitches’ was designed by Helen Whittaker, one of the country’s leading stained glass designers and makers, and realised in modern machine embroidery by Fine Cell Work, the prison embroidery charity. Measuring an impressive 6.5 metres x 1.5 metres, the wall hanging is composed of hundreds of appliquéd fabric pieces precision-stitched onto linen. It took 4,000 hours over four years for four men in two prisons and one former prisoner to make, and was made using a computer-linked embroidery machine funded by another livery company, the Broderers’ Company. The wall hanging is one of the most prestigious commissions undertaken by Fine Cell Work. It represents the fusion of two traditional crafts to create a unique contemporary work, and at such a scale, is a landmark piece in modern embroidery.

Present at the ceremony will be: the Lord Mayor of London, Alan Yarrow, and the Lady Mayoress; Renter Warden Sir David Wootton; the Sheriffs, Fiona Adler and Dr Andrew Parmley, Mr Peter Doe, Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Liveryman Mrs Janet Doe; Alex Galloway CVO and his Lady (Suzanne); Glaziers Court Assistant Helen Whittaker, stained glass artist and designer of the wall hanging; Victoria Gillies, Managing Director of Fine Cell Work; Katy Emck, Founding Director of Fine Cell Work; volunteers and ex-prisoners who helped to pull the project off; the Revd. Christopher Kevill-Davies, Honorary Chaplain to the Worshipful Company of Glaziers.

The Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Alan Yarrow, said:

 “It’s fantastic to be able to unveil the Fine Cell Work wall hanging. Vocational training like this is so important and I salute the excellent work of Helen, of Fine Cell Work and of course of the exceptionally talented prisoners who contributed so diligently to this hanging." 

Mr Peter Doe, Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Glaziers, said:

“Having heard Katy Emck talking about Fine Cell on Radio 4 one morning and then visited a Fine Cell work sale at Leathersellers Hall where we saw the wonderful stitching done by inmates, we were inspired to commission this stunning wall hanging, designed by stained glass artist Helen Whittaker, for the Glaziers Company, to be displayed in the River Room at Glaziers Hall.”

Katy Emck, Founding Director of Fine Cell Work said:

“Fine Cell Work is very lucky to work with such an outstanding designer as Helen Whittaker and to benefit from the vision and generosity of former Glaziers Master Peter Doe, and his wife Janet Doe. No wall-hanging to date, has so extensively used such modern embroidery techniques on such a scale.”

Helen Whittaker, Stained Glass Designer/ Artist, Barley Studios, York, said:

"Having designed and made many stained glass windows for cathedrals and churches, the translation of my ideas into embroidery has been an illuminating and rewarding process. The final artwork is testament to the enthusiasm and perseverance of the prisoners and Fine Cell Work."