My mother-in-law phoned last night whilst I was watching the flash opera on BBC3. We were talking about the new embroidery course she’s just embarked on and her horror at discovering that she is required to design her own cross-stitch patterns as well as sew them. Self doubt is creeping in and she’s convinced herself that she can’t do it before she’s even tried. I suggested that it was important to learn a craft from start to finish and she should stick with it. Perhaps I should have referred her to Joel’s piece about typography, the message is the same.

This afternoon I got an e-mail that said:

You are invited to take part in a cutting edge digital art project that utilises mobile phone technology and traditional needlecraft.

What are the odds? The e-mail is from Kate Pemberton, a Birmingham artist whose work can be seen at You may remember that it was she who had pointed me to the window installation in Birmingham city centre. Her new project is the extension of the work she’s been doing with cross stitch and mobile phone text messages.

Here’s the rest of the mail.

The project can be accessed worldwide via NOW and is accessible to all.

Pixel designs can be sent for free to participants mobile phones, as digital wallpaper.

The artworks can be collected, enabling visitors to build up an art collection on their mobile phones; a virtual transportable gallery.

Participants will be given the opportunity to create there own unique crafted objects from these designs, as the designs are also available as cross stitch patterns, to print-out and stitch.

Users are encouraged to upload images of their stitched samplers to the EMS website.

This work questions the ‘high cultural’ or elitist methods of producing and collecting artwork. In asking participants to consider transforming disposable designs into tangible craft objects, the work will also question the margin between (digital) technology and (traditional) craft. The EMS project is soon to be exhibited at an the New Forms Festival in Vancouver, 14th – 28th October 2004.

I like it. I submitted a request and immediately received a neat little cross stitch graphic for my phone (see above image). I’ve also downloaded the pattern as a PDF and sent it to my mother-in-law in the hope that she’ll be kind enough to sew it for me. If I can then persuade her to upload one of her own designs then it’ll be a success all round. Alternatively I could buy all the things I need with the pack of materials that’s for sale on the site.

Oh, and look, Kate says …the work will also question the margin between (digital) technology and (traditional) craft… – we’re back to the loss of roots discussion again.