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RHS Chelsea Flower Show Artisan Studios: Hanley

The artisan:

Lou Gardiner


Lou is a British designer-maker from Cheshire producing unique embroidered artworks. She conveys complex and organic designs into linen and canvas by drawing freely with thread on a domestic sewing machine. Whether it’s an embroidered illustration or a commemorative quilt, Lou’s work showcases the highest level of skill and technique resulting in intuitive, unique work with a magical depth and passionate precision.


The Retreat:

14′ x 10′ cedar Hanley

Double glazed throughout with energy saving glass and with insulated walls, roof and floor, the Hanley is a versatile building with a contemporary feel which can be used in every season. The patio-style, glass-to-ground windows allow natural light to pour into the building, giving you the feeling of being out in your garden all year round.

Lou is a contemporary embroidery artist drawing inspiration from the land around us and the exciting emotions, feelings and understanding we evoke from it. With a focus on positivity and confident energy, her work seeks to combine the beauty of the great outdoors with the precision and delicate design of a skilful stitch.

The work:

Lou’s work is both inspirational and empowering! Throughout her career she has found that embroidery is often viewed as a rather old-fashioned art, so by making it her mission to bring it to the forefront of cutting-edge design she has become a highly successful, modern and contemporary embroidery artist, celebrating the best in what comes from the countryside around her and the people she has worked with all over the world.

The inspiration:

As a farmer’s daughter coming from a long line of farmers in her family, Lou has a strong and positive passion for the great outdoors. Plus, with her trusty sidekick Billy Fox (her terrier dog, who found himself on her doorstep one day and never left) by her side for many walks in the Cheshire countryside, it seems rather fitting that her work celebrates the wonderful world we live in. From the vibrant, explosive energy of seeds popping to dreamy coral swaying in the sea, it’s all rather romantic but with an exciting and deeply poignant message.

One of Lou’s most passionate and powerful projects is her international Stitch a Cloud project. A project which is very close to Lou’s heart, this has seen women from countries all over the world stitch a small cloud with something that means a lot to them (whether that’s an image, a symbol or an embellishment). Lou has now received over 300 clouds and will be showcasing a few of them on a gorgeous jacket at RHS Chelsea, which you may even see her wearing! This project celebrates creativity and female empowerment. It has brought together women from all over the world, whatever battles they are fighting and whatever life has dealt them, showcasing that women want peace, pride and positivity.

Lou Gardiner’s Hanley

Exterior colour:
Gloss black

Interior colour:
Gloss black

Softwood in gloss black

Chrome fittings and black guttering


How the Hanley
was used:

Lou’s retreat is simply stunning. If her mission is to showcase that embroidery can be contemporary and stylish she has surpassed that! With a dark, elegant interior and sumptuous velvet furnishings, this sultry style really allows her work to burst out and have a real impact.

Using a mixture of light-reflecting fabrics, metallic threads, beading and beautiful designs, this retreat is sure to be an adventure of discovery into the wonderful world of Lou Gardiner.

Whilst exploring Lou’s retreat, be sure to check out and ask about the Cape of Empowerment.

Designed with Pukka Herbs, this breath-taking piece has been on tour and has been worn by over 500 people celebrating empowerment, promoting creativity and our connection with nature. The wearer is bound to feel empowered and warrior-like in this captivating cape and it will be proudly displayed in Lou’s retreat.

So, if you’re at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, be sure to check out the Malvern Garden Buildings Artisan Studios and learn more about Lou Gardiner and the passion behind her freehand stitch work. She is a truly creative woman based in Cheshire but reaching out, empowering and inspiring women from different places and backgrounds all over the world.

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