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The textile society professional development award 2017

Caren Garfen wins Professional Development Award 2017

Caren Garfen is an experienced artist, whose proposal to create an exhibition around her work on ‘eating disorders’ reflects a passion and sustained commitment to a compelling and unsettling subject. 

The pain and distress of anorexia is sensitively considered and beautifully expressed through her textiles. Caren’s approach in developing miniature maquettes, in preparation for larger scale pieces, is both professionally planned and critically developed. The work demonstrates originality and a highly personal artistic quality.

Caren gave a powerful and compelling paper about her most recent work at The Textile Society Annual Conference which was held at the Wellcome Collection, Euston Road, London, in early November 2018.


Last year Caren was selected to hand stitch a block for the UDHR Quilt Project, a collaborative craftivism project with over 130 international artists. The project was designed to celebrate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and raise awareness of the ways it is being violated around the world today. This project will also raise funds & awareness for UNHCR through the sale of a forthcoming book about the project. Four quilts have been created from individual blocks featuring the entirety of each Article of the UDHR. The completed works are now on display at the Museum of Australian Democracy, in Canberra, Australia, until June 2019.


In 2017 Caren was invited to create a block for the Jane Austen Community Quilt Project.  The quilt was funded through a Heritage Lottery grant, and inspired by a patchwork coverlet created by Jane, her mother and sister.  Each individual quilt block was designed and created by representatives from over forty community groups worldwide, including groups in North America, Australia, Pakistan and Brazil as well as closer to home in the village of Chawton. Each block explored a different Austen theme, and when stitched together formed a patchwork of stories narrating Jane Austen’s life, work and legacy. The completed quilt is currently on display at The Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire.


'Room For Improvement' was selected for The 62 Group of Textile Artists' exhibition Ctrl/Shift in 2018. After a successful showing at MAC Birmingham, it will be moving on to the National Centre for Craft & Design in Lincolnshire in February 2019. Ctrl/Shift takes shifts and changes as its theme, in particular it is centred on artists whose practice is or has transformed, in small or large ways, especially towards expressions of innovation in textile art. These shifts may be around changing attitudes to control (towards or away from it); the introduction of new materials and techniques; and/or the impact of innovative ideas and evolving technologies.