Today I want to celebrate a rare soul and gifted artist, a lover of the structure and form and beauty she found in the world, both in nature and in the built environment, who cunningly wove that into her own exquisite artefacts: Alison Hird-Beecroft.
Alison was a dear friend of both myself and my sister Julia, since the time she and her family moved into a house just up the road from us, and while we were in the early years of primary school in Orpington, Kent.
Alison passed away on Christmas morning, 25 December 2021, just four months after the death of her husband, Brian Beecroft.
We played together as children and created fantasy worlds: I was in awe then of her instinctive skill for using fabrics, assorted materials, embroidery threads and iridescent metallic papers to craft beautiful things we could both admire and play with. She would tease out embroidery threads to create glossy hair of many colours, to stick to the heads of ping pong balls to make the dolls who inhabited our fantasy world.
Over the years we also shared a love of music and singing, writing and art, and the beauty to be found in nature. Alison has left a collection of glorious artworks, and I present some of them here. These are part of a project of shadow and light photography using her stitched structures, water, glass and iridescent cellophane. Her plan was to print these on canvas.
Of the image above, Alison wrote: ‘I looked at the photos I had taken with the two light sources and I suddenly saw what looked like ghostly ships with strange masts and rigging coming out of the mist.’
On the website of the New Embroidery Group you may find Alison’s exquisite works.
These are some of the things those who have known and loved Alison have said about her:
Thank you for posting the very sad news about Alison and her husband Brian. I was one of her school friends at St Philomena’s in St Mary’s Cray near Orpington. We used to make enamel jewellery and scrap books of our favourite pop stars in the 60’s. I will miss her very much. (Elizabeth)
I met her age 17 when we both went to the South East College of Further Education in Lewisham. She was wearing a cape and she looked extraordinary. I looked at her and was so amazed by what she was wearing and how beautiful it was, that I went straight across to her. I am very shy and it’s unheard of for me to do such a thing. But I looked at her, and straightaway I just wanted to be her friend. (Susan)
Alison was sitting next to Brian at the church art club, and Brian started to talk about an exhibition he had recently been to, and some artworks he had seen, and he began to describe them. As she listened, Alison felt a sense of recognition. She said, ‘Do you know, I think you may be talking about my artworks…’ Her hunch proved correct: Brian was. They became close after that, and later on, in 2013, they married. (Alison and Brian)
I like to imagine her being swept up by the angels on Christmas night, joining with the stars and knowing Jesus, her saviour, Immanuel, close with her. ‘The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.’ I remember singing round the piano with her one time. She will be adding her creative beauty to heaven now… Alison was certainly blessed with so much creativity… and fun. She would certainly want you to enjoy Christmas and raise a glass to her! (Caroline)