In 1962, the belief that co-operative effort can be more effective than individual enterprise united several young embroidery graduates in a common enterprise – they formed the 62 Group of Embroiderers to be a pressure group and a support system for its members. They knew that their work deserved wider recognition and that for this, it needed to be seen in prestigious venues with appropriate publicity and critical attention.
There was a subtext, a support system for these new graduates who often found themselves a ‘lone voice’ in suggesting that Embroidery was not merely a lady-like hobby but once again a live art form appropriate for its day and age. Embroiderers were very soon joined by practitioners in other textile disciplines and so The 62 Group of Textile Artists was established.
How has this group survived and flourished for over 48 years? (It has no premises or paid administrators).
First of all it has attracted committed professional members willing to give some of their working time for the benefit of the Group. A wise constitution was drawn up and adhered to with only minor amendments over the years. The wisdom lay primarily in its insistence on a rigorous selection procedure for initial (and continuing) membership and for inclusions in any Group exhibitions.
Groups often abandon rigour in favour of a kindly indulgence towards members but The 62 Group has always resisted the temptation. Members know that their work will be subjected to appraisal by a panel of their fellow members before it is accepted in any 62 Group exhibitions and that they will be asked to serve on such selection panels from time to time.
Each year new members are selected whilst others depart and an exhibiting membership of about 60 members is usual. It includes those with established international reputations as well as recent graduates at the outset of their careers.
Currently, 16 Honorary Members (distinguished in the field of Textiles as Gallery Directors, Curators, Academics or Business people) support the group and its objectives.
As it moves towards its 50th year in 2012, and with its continuing programme of annual exhibitions, The 62 Group has an established international reputation for professionalism, quality of work and strength of purpose.
Audrey Walker MBE