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Pick up the thread of needlecraft

To Boldly Sew: textiles for the 21st century. CD-Rom for Mac and PC. Free copy to all FE colleges. Learning and Teaching Scotland, Dundee, tel 01382 443638.

Textile art, and in particular embroidery and stitched textiles, is a skilful and creative art form. It explores texture, colour, form and line and uses sources of inspiration as diverse as nature and technology.

So why is it so often overlooked as a creative form of expression? Partly this is due to textiles often being perceived as a craft or hobby without the artistic integrity of, for example, painting.

Such views show a lack of awareness of the possibilities for expression and communication through textiles. In Scotland there has always been a dedicated body of talent exploring the possibilities within this medium and over the past 40 years there have been considerable advances in the range and diversity of practice.

To Boldly Sew: textiles for the 21st century illustrates these advances and is designed to give an insight into the working methods and practice of a wide range of contemporary textile artists and designers. It provides a fascinating glimpse into the influences, sources and methods involved in producing creative embroidery and stitched textiles.

Developed by the school of design at Duncan of Jordanstone College in Dundee, this multi-media presentation was designed to accompany the exhibition of the same name. The exhibition sought to reinfore textiles as a valid art form which expresses ideas, issues and concepts.

The first page of the CD-Rom is exciting and visually appealing with good graphics and, thankfully, this is carried on throughout the rest of the presentation. The main navigation page is simple to use, with the names of the artists arranged in a circle. Clicking on a name provides access to images of the artist's work and relevant background information on the artist and their pieces, which is provided by the artists themselves. This information places each piece in context and adds considerably to the understanding and appreciation of the work.

The presentation is user-friendly and accessible. This allows you instantly to access the information and view the examples of work.

It doesn't take long to become familiar with the content of the CD-Rom and it would prove ideal as a reference tool for those studying textiles, or indeed contemporary Scottish art. It would also be useful within the new National Qualification courses in the delivery of both practical work and written studies.

My own appreciation and admiration of embroidery and stitched textiles was immediately rekindled on viewing this disc. As a resource in schools and colleges I would not be surprised if it served to encourage more talented people to explore this underrated, and under-appreciated, art form.

Vincent Donnelly is head of art and design at Dumfries Academy

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