Eleanor Hannan
Free motion embroidery work, hand embroidery, drawings, paintings

Eleanor Hannan

Rebecca of  a 1000 Skirts
Rebecca of 1000 Skirts, free motion embroidery on linen

 Art Statement


Embroidery is my life. I have embroidered since I was a child first by hand with available scraps of embroidery floss and then by hand with anything I could find.

I embroidered my way through art school and art history school in Toronto and it was not really understood so I took to doing it surreptitiously while riding the subway long distances; found excuses to ride the subway long distances so I could embroider.

Once, I embroidered instead of painted a breakfast party I had on a mid-November morning during the first snow of the year. It is an exceptionally colourful embroidery filled with life and light and the joy I felt at being able to fully explore this skill of the hand as recorder of figures, faces and events.
30 years later I still embroider by hand as an extension of my drawing and a technique for helping me work things out visually.

I am always a drawer, first and foremost a drawer.  Embroidery is after all drawing in thread.

I still embroider by hand and on the sewing machine working often in techniques of traditional painting and “layer by layer” drawing in which I start with the darkest darks and build up to the lights. I love coaxing the thread in this way helping it to realize its full potential of colour, thickness and strength.

Once we are getting somewhere, the thread and I, and the ground rules established I embroider in one way or another the human body, human face and human emotions. I find embroidery as a form of expression very good at this. It is partly due to the intensity of the effort, the solitude required to accomplish it and the passion of the colour relationships. I began my art life greatly inspired, even transformed by the colours, compositon and figurations of the Bayeux Tapestry. I have always kept that rich and moving source in the back of my mind and heart as I tell my own thread story.