Mearns woman Mary’s hobby is fit for a queen

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A former teacher from Newton Mearns has the royal seal of approval on her needlework — and an exhibition opening next week to prove it.

Mary Laidlaw (70) has been perfecting her hand embroidery skills by taking part in intensive certificate and diploma courses with the Royal School of Needlework in London.

The East Ren resident has travelled as far as Durham to learn more about a life-long interest — and now, her work will be included in a Glasgow exhibition.

Mary (70) told The Extra: “I was a home economics teacher, so I’ve always done a bit — my mother was a good embroiderer and she taught me as a child.

“When you’re working you don’t have the time to keep it up, and it wasn’t until I retired that I decided I wanted to get better.

“At the time, Durham was the nearest location to Glasgow for a course, so I’d have to stay in a hotel. Then the Glasgow course opened and, thanks to tutoring from Helen McCook, I was able to come home.”

A member of the Embroiderers’ Guild, Mary has tackled Jacobean crewel and silk shading tapestry, and is now making her way through whitework, blackwork, tapestry shading and advanced goldwork — including an inventive take on Alice Through the Looking Glass.

She added: “When I started out, I thought I’d never get to the diploma, but it’s amazing how quickly you get through it.

“I have lots of pieces at home now, but my mother was an artist and she painted the pictures hanging in our house, so most of mine end up in a cupboard. I think I’ll be hanging them up now, because a lot of work has gone into them.”

Mary has sold some of her pieces, and is now considering offering some — and her services as an RSN graduate — to the Burrell Collection. She added: “I wouldn’t be expecting payment and I don’t know if they would be interested, but it would be nice to pass them on.”

But first, that work goes on display at The Glasgow Art Club, with the exhibition running between August 18 - Sep 5.