Exhibition: Thread of Life

The Thread of Life will be an exhibition organised by Sharon Mossbeck at Banks Street Arts, Sheffield, UK throughout November 2015 and YOU could be a part of it!

Who is Sharon Mossbeck?

Sharon Mossbeck is a conceptual artist based in Sheffield. Her work focuses on themes of death and religion, often presented in a vibrant, hedonistic way. While based on themes of death, her work is more easily read as a celebration of life while questioning what may happen beyond. Mossbeck works in a variety of media, including painting, sculpture using found objects and textiles.

So what is Thread of Life?

Thread of Life is a contemporary cross stitch project based on the mythological Greek figures of the Fates, or Moirai.

Sharon will create a single large cross stitch (one metre by one metre) based on  Byzantine Church domes, but with imagery on DNA and the Moirai or Three Fates; spinning, allotting and cutting each person’s life thread, and therefore determining a person’s lifespan.

This piece will hang flat against the ceiling with long threads hanging down to the floor, creating an internal space inside which viewers can stand and look up to the dome inspired ceiling.

Morai and DNA
Moirai and DNA

Around the outer edge, in the corners of the square fabric, are objects relating to each of the fates: a spindle, a measuring stick, scissors, and en egg times, representing the passing of time. There is also a stylised strand of DNA running around the outside. The text running around the inner circle is the names of the Fates, written in Greek, and in the centre is a heart, which I often use within my work as a symbol of both life and death. (Sharon Mossbeck)

Why Cross Stitch?

Sharon is very keen to change the public perception of cross stitch from being considered twee and an easy form of needlecraft.

… the ability to cross-stitch is a skill, and to create a piece of work also takes time and a relationship with the materials and the medium. That is where my interest lies. I believe that the difference between cross-stitch as a hobby craft and cross-stitch as fine art comes from how the materials are viewed in their own right, making use of their own properties to create artworks unique to the medium. The Aida shouldn’t be seen as a blank canvas which needs a picture on it, it should be seen as a tool; and the threads shouldn’t be seen as a way of colouring in, we should be looking at breaking the rules and working with what we have to create something new and exciting.

For example, the restrictions of the grid format distorts any image you try to create, in the way that 8 bit images in computer games are distorted, but if we accept this, and work with it, amazing patterns and images can be created. Also, the idea of hiding the threads away at the back of the fabric to leave a nice picture, which may as well have been painted, seems a little redundant when thinking about the materials and their properties. Why not show your working and your skill in the work?

I think that, to rescue cross-stitch from the no-man’s-land between craft and art, we need to start pushing the boundaries and breaking the rules. Hopefully people will start to think about what could be achieved when working on the DNA pattern to create something together which is genuinely a work of art. (Sharon Mossbeck)

Thread of Life Banner

So how can I be a part of this?

Surrounding her single large piece, Sharon would like other cross stitchers (YOU) to cross stitch a simple pattern based on a strand of DNA.


The one rule is that you must stitch your piece on 28ct evenweave or 14 count Aida to make sure that all works conform to the same size.

Given Sharon’s interests in elevating cross stitch to an art form, she is encouraging you to  push the boundaries of cross stitch and your own comfort-zone to try something new; pick new colours, embellishments, style, and even materials.

This is your time to break free; you can use whatever kind of stitching you like, specialty stitches, Hardanger, backstitch or no backstitch; cut the fabric, tear it,  stitch your piece to something else, combine stitching with drawing, or anything else you can imagine!

The idea is that each piece will be as individual as the person making it. What idea is going through your mind now?

I’m excited how do I start?

Print out the above chart.  It should look enough on a piece of A4 or US Letter paper.  Otherwise save a copy to your tablet or laptop and work on it there.

Then once you have the pattern, find a piece of 14 count Aida or 28ct evenweave 7″x 12″ (or 17 x 30cm).

If you want to stitch something larger Sharon has said

“if someone would like to work out the pattern and stitch a longer piece of work, perhaps double size or more, then I’d be very happy for them to do so.”

Select your floss and embellishments

Decide what you are going to do to make your piece unique – what are you going to do to elevate your piece from craft to art? What have you always wanted to do to a piece of cross stitch but were afraid to do?

Once complete you will need to send your piece to:

The Thread of Life
Bank Street Arts
32 – 40 Bank Street
South Yorkshire
S1 2DS
United Kingdom

Every finished DNA piece sent in will be part of the exhibition. The idea behind the work is that each DNA piece would be as individual as the person making it.

The Small Print

You must send in your finished, unframed piece before 1 September 2015. You must include the following information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Email address
  • Title of your work and any other information (e.g. materials used, inspiration etc.)

Please be aware that your piece will not be returned to you.  After showing for one month at Bank Street Arts, it may go on to be exhibited at another venue.  However, you will continue to be acknowledged for your work.

If you want to know more, please contact Sharon Mossbeck.


This article could not have been possible without the help of Sharon, her various writings, social media outlets and emails with me.

Facebook – Sharon Mossbeck

Indiegogo – Thread of Life campaign

Sharon Mossbeck – Cross stitch as Contemporary Art

Sharon Mossbeck – Pattern Drawing

Sharon Mossbeck – The Thread of Life


So … do you feel like being part of a real-life, honest-to-goodness art exhibition?  Something contemporary that you can point to when people dismiss your stitching as “old woman’s kitsch”?

If you like this idea, and think some of your friends might want to get involved, please share this article with them or point them to the links in the Acknowledgements section above.

Last Updated: 13 February 2015