Sewn art showcase at pop-up shop

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Is it art, or is it craft? A question Mr X Stitch, aka Jamie Chalmers, mused over at the exhibition of cross-stitch and embroidery he has curated in Bedford town centre.

“If you are following a pattern, then its a hobby,” he said. “But if you start something original, put some thought into it, then it’s art, even though you are using traditional methods.”

The colourful exhibition in the BedPop shop features sewn works from Bedford, and around the globe, and has pieces which range from the whimsical to thought-provoking but all display extraordinary skill with a needle and thread.

Jamie has been working for two months gathering the pieces, some he sourced via his stitching website (, others have been submitted by the Bedford branch of the Embroiderer’s Guild.

He said: “I’ve gone from someone who likes cross-stitch graffiti to becoming a curator. The perception is that embroidery is for old ladies, but as this exhibition shows, its a fantastic medium for anyone creative.”

The show also has some vintage sewing, the type you would have found on your grandmother’s side table. While traditional, it is still relevant in a contemporary collection. Jamie said: “Embroidery is such an old skill, it forms part of most people’s memories.”

Jamie grew up in Bedford and now lives in Clophill. After spending some years living in Milton Keynes, he appreciates Bedford’s array of independent shops and the town’s quirky nature. He said: “It’s nice to come back and get involved. To curate a contemporary art exhibition in a pop-up gallery is magic.”

Work by members of Bedford Embroiderers’ Guild include hand-sewn pieces but also machine-embroidered pictures. The group meets regularly for talks and practical demonstrations. For more information email

The exhibition runs until Saturday (May 3) from 10am to 4pm. Saturday will also include demonstrations in lace making, felting, machine embroidery and a fabric sale.