The Wanganui Embroiderers Guild entertained a special guest recently when hand embroiderer Tanja Berlin came from Canada for a New Zealand tour.
Tanja ran a workshop in the new Hospice Whanganui extension.
"We've got people here from Kapiti Embroiderers Guild, people from New Plymouth, Manawatu, obviously Wanganui Guild," says Judy Ahmadi, Wanganui Guild president.
The room at Hospice was busy with women working at long tables.
"It's a wonderful room for embroidery, because of the big windows and the sunlight, a super room."
Tanja's work and a range of her personally designed embroidery kits were on a bench against a wall, showing designs from flowers to all manner of birds and woodland creatures, as well as abstract shapes in colour and monochrome.
"I like doing the animals mostly, because I like the realism," says Tanja. It's so precise, it's no wonder it's called needle painting, and the finished pictures have a three-dimensional effect, which works well for fur and feathers.
"Most have 16 to 24 colours, and something simple like the rose has only eight colours." I loved the way she called her intricate and realistic-looking rose "simple".
Originally from England, Tanja now lives in Canada but came to New Zealand for a needlework convention and used the opportunity to visit Nelson, Whanganui and Hamilton.
"I was one of about 12 teachers at the convention in Orewa," says Tanja.
She trained at the Royal School of Needlework, based at Hampton Court palace, completing a three-year apprenticeship course in hand embroidery, graduating with a diploma. It has now become a degree course.
"Then I stayed another two years, working on restoration, conservation and commissions, then travelled and ended up in Canada."
People at the workshop at Hospice were learning three blackwork patterns from Tanja, a style that came to England with Catherine of Aragon, says Judy.
Tanja's work can't help but be an inspiration for embroiderers.
"I design projects for people to stitch, make kits up for them, with instructions, then I tour, usually in Canada and the US. This is my first time to New Zealand to teach, although I have been to Australia." Tanja sells her kits through her website.
"We've got a Wanganui Embroiderers Guild exhibition coming up from May 4 to 12, at Community Arts Centre in Taupo Quay," says Judy.
Work on display will range from cross stitch to hardanger, canvas work, blackwork and more.