Meet the artist

Ruth O'Leary
Ruth O'Leary

Ruth is an experienced embroiderer and multi-disciplinary textile artist with many years’ experience in designing and creating textile artworks, including bespoke pieces on commission, and has exhibited in a range of forums, including private displays, public spaces and galleries.

Using a variety of embroidery techniques in her work, Ruth specialises in needle painting in long and short stitch or split stitch, and in embroidered lettering and calligraphy. In addition, she hand-makes unique contemporary quilts and rugs, and charming soft sculptures and pictures from needle-felted wool.

She enjoys the demands of working to commission. Although Ruth works to her own original designs, and develops each unique project from start to finish, she enjoys discovering the client’s requirements, and the fresh ideas that develop from them.

As part of the Rostara brand, Ruth’s designs are now exclusively available on a range of luxury homeware, accessories and limited-edition prints. Exploring the potential of cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) tools in the design process, she is working with generative art to expand the range of the possible.

Ruth has been a member of the Embroiderers’ Guild for over 25 years, and is a past Chair of the Newcastle-upon-Tyne branch.

Artist Statement

I am a self-taught hand embroiderer and multi-disciplinary textile artist based in the North East of England, and have been sewing since I was a child. I have always loved fabrics and threads, and the way these simple materials can form beautiful objects.

 I am interested in both the formal organisation of space and in natural forms, and much of my work uses geometry as a basis, either in a pure form or as a way of structuring natural elements. I’m also inspired by history and the heritage of the British Isles, and the use of Celtic motifs devised by unknown artists centuries ago. To me, these all represent the underlying harmony of nature, and the order in seeming chaos.

I am particularly interested in the ways in which centuries-old textile craft skills can be used in the modern day, especially the subtle use of colour in needle painting or thread shading techniques, and their use in my own contemporary designs. This requires considerable craft skill, an eye for detail, and a good deal of patience.

My textile art is central to my life, and I constantly notice surfaces, textures and forms that inspire me. The finished pieces are part of an ongoing development, with themes and messages joining and reappearing within my work, always moving towards something new.

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