Inspired by views as seen from above, a textile artist is crafting colorful 3D embroideries of the picturesque English countryside in which she lives. Her detailed compositions depict green fields laced with blue threads of water, some with teeny tiny houses and people, others with trees and hills rendered in tactile dimensions.
Victoria Rose Richards, 23, of South-West Devon, England, lives and works in the landscape she loves. She was diagnosed with autism at 14, later endometriosis, but finds comfort and happiness in her craft.
Victoria first picked up embroidery in the fall of 2018, progressing into 3D landscapes and aerial embroidery the following summer. The color green soon emerged as her favorite.
“I had been creating a ‘color series’ where I did a landscape each in just shades of one color of the color wheel, and got stuck on green,” Victoria told The Epoch Times. “As I was looking out my window at the fields and woods opposite, I realized they would be all green from an aerial view, and created my first aerial field landscape. I loved it.”
Over time, Victoria—who has a degree in ecological and marine biology—taught herself a variety of stitches to achieve realistic-looking textures. Explaining her creative process in detail, she says that after making her basic outline on a sheet of felt, she embroiders clusters of French knots for trees and shrubbery, while long, straight stitches represent ploughed fields and lakes.
In newer works, Victoria has even included tiny cars, livestock, hikers, wildflowers, countryside cottages, and swimmers off the Devon coast with single, looped stitches.
“I am surrounded by rivers, fields, woodland, and moorland, and love to look around me for things to include in my pieces,” she explained.
The landscapes that inspire Victoria are also appealing to the people who buy her work. Many customers have commented on the “nostalgic” and “homely” feel of her work, she says. Some say they “remind them of their grandparents’ farm,” or “somewhere they used to go camping with friends or family,” and it makes them happy to look at them.
Embroidery has become an outlet for the artist, who struggled to fit in after she received her autism diagnosis at the age of 14.
Victoria suspected she may be on the autistic spectrum after noticing similarities between herself and a friend’s sibling, who had autism, yet she struggled with self-doubt and shame when more “normal” aspects of teen life proved difficult, like socializing, and the noise and interactions of the school classroom.
Victoria, who was good at all her subjects, earned a place at Exeter University where she thrived living independently on campus for the next three years. Enjoying her newfound independence, she overcame her obstacles and did things she thought she couldn’t.
“I got more and more comfortable in my autism, and stopped seeing it as a hindrance like I had learned to at school,” she explained. “I think that the self-doubts and disappointment you may have in yourself due to your condition may not always be due to the condition itself, but rather your environment’s influence on it.
“My autism hasn’t gone, or changed,” she reasoned. “My sensory sensitivity hasn’t decreased. I’m just in a different environment that doesn’t purposefully test my boundaries, and I feel I can act more myself without judgment. Or, at least, without caring about the judgment!”
Victoria considers herself a full-time artist, yet hopes to embark on a career in marine biology in the future. For now, she is absorbed in the process of finessing her craft; noticing the “little mistakes” of the past, she said, is simply a good sign that she has learned and improved.
“Don’t let your lack of teaching stop you!” Victoria implores others. “When I started, I knew nothing about embroidery or stitches, but I naturally learned through trial and error as I went along.”
She reflected: “My art makes me genuinely happy, and if I had decided not to jump in since I knew nothing on it, I would have missed out on this experience. I firmly believe my life would be less colorful for it.”