It was almost inevitable that Vivien Prince would become involved in textiles in one form or another. Her maternal grandmother trained as a tailoress and her grandfather was in the cotton trade in Manchester, England. An aunt was a court dressmaker who used to sew glamorous clothes for young ladies going up to London for the Season. All made on a treadle sewing machine, as she didn’t have electricity, only gaslight!
By the age of six, having learned the basics of handsewing from her grandmother, she was being taught by her mother the gentle art of embroidery. At ten Vivien graduated to using her mother’s treadle Singer and started making her clothes. For her 21st birthday she was given an electric sewing machine and from then she never looked back – her wedding dress, going-away outfit and then later children’s clothes were all produced using that machine. Her first quilt, however, was sewn painstakingly by hand tacking squares of fabric over squares of paper then joining the squares together before removing the paper – because that’s what the magazine instructions said. She knows better now!
After dabbling with pottery for a few years, Vivien became tired of having oxides around the edges of her almost non-existent fingernails, not to mention the sore back from bending over the throwing wheel, and took a quilting course with Jeanette Maxwell at Forestville Community Centre. Since then she has participated in workshops with Australian and overseas teachers and has so many ideas that it would take several lifetimes to complete them all. She “fell into” designing projects and writing the instructions for several magazines, including Mode Made, Women’s Weekly and Handmade.
Vivien is a long-standing member of Artists and Craftsmen of Pittwater Inc. and has won several awards for excellence and the People’s Choice Prize.
For some years she taught classes and took workshops but now concentrates on designing and making quilts and other textile art, which she sells at exhibitions mainly in and around the Northern Beaches.