Saturday, 19 May 2012


Margate-based artist Ann Carrington has been making headlines this week with an impressive red velvet banner she has decorated with golden buttons to adorn the Queen's royal barge for next month's Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant. If you look at the image above, you can just see how much exquisite detail there is, it's really quite astounding.

According to the Daily Mail, the banner took Ann and her team of seamstresses four months to finish in her Margate studio, with 500,000 buttons and 31 miles of gold thread being sewn onto it in total. The sheer amount of work that has gone into it beggars belief, so I'm sure it will woo TV audiences when they see it hanging on the Spirit of Chartwell next month for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. I just hope Queen Elizabeth II appreciates its artistic merit more than she did Rolf Harris's portrait of her, don't you?

As the creator of the wonderful Shell Ladies (which I'm sure we've all seen on Margate seafront at some point), Ann Carrington is a tremendously talented artist who has made her name creating such acclaimed works as the Pearly Queens – a replication of Queen Elizabeth's silhouette as featured on Royal Mail stamps, only made entirely out of buttons. Perhaps, then, a royal commission was inevitable, but fully deserved by the looks of it.

However, I hope Ann doesn't mind me saying that I've detected a level of irreverence and sarcastic wit in some of her very funny quotes to journalists. It seems she may have quite a subversive streak, which is always a positive trait in my book, especially for an artist. When speaking to The Independent, Ann expressed her hope that the threads will hold tight for Her Majesty, adding: “If not I can always throw her a sewing kit.”

Please make sure you head over to and take a good look at Ann's work. I think we should all be very proud that Ann's studio is based in Margate, as her stature in the arts is clearly helping to put Thanet on the map. It's nice to know that a local artist like her is playing a significant role in the Diamond Jubilee, isn't it?

Image © Ann Carrington and used with permission from her personally via email. The inclusion of the image is not an endorsement of this post.

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