what they said

'Nelson is unusual amongst craftmakers in the breadth of her references and her use of embroidery not to embellish or prettify, but as a way of bringing attention to certain situations or problems. She is drawn to what might be thought of as the fractures in a place, working through the specifics of a situation through the objects she produces, as if her making is another form of thinking'
nicola white 

'Working in residence at a number of small museum collections, Nelson has a particular eye for chance artefacts that distil and disclose local histories. Combining these artefacts with her own thoughtful acts of making, her art captures the often harsh realities of the lives of the women of the past. While her objects might possess their own quiet beauty, there is nothing at all romantic about Nelson’s knitted tea-bag (an indictment of the truck system through which many of Shetland’s knitters were exploited) or her herring knitted from coarse Harris wool, whose gold thread highlights its status as a prized commodity, the currency of the sea. Despite the seriousness of her subject matter, Nelson’s work is never baldly didactic: indeed, her art is more often sneaky, witty, and incredibly inclusive. 

kate davies 2010

when I saw Deirdre Nelsons cabinet of emotionally embroidered shirts I laughed out loud. for anyone craving empathy, it was a delightful surprise: three exquisitely hand embroidered shirts – a blow against corporate uniformity and the machine age – decorated with hidden flowers inside the collar, daisy for patience, rosa eglanteria for compassion, pasque flower for empathy. and in many ways it was an emblem for this show

jerwood contemporary makers review by Liz Hoggard  2008

the energy and  enthusiasm which has gone into this project an the resulting exhibition, a fighe a cheo, is a testament to Deirdre’s ability to create wonderful and intricate art work but to involve the community in the process

a fighe a cheo  Sarah Macintyre  taigh chearsabagh 2008

rather than exhibit the outcome of her residency in the Printworks Trust’s gallery, Nelson elected to exhibit this work in the context in which it was conceived: a vacant store space inside the Granville Arcade. Her refusal to allow this work to be displaced, even slightly, from her sources of research and inspiration reveals the integrity with which Nelson approaches her subject. Rather than adopt a somewhat vicarious relationship with the community, Nelson returns to the community in equal measure what she has gained from her time in the area. Situating her work beyond the traditional space of the gallery will, one can hope, expose her work to a broader audience, one that includes the members of the community whose livelihoods inspired the project in the first place. For the rest of us, seeing the exhibition more than compensates for the time it takes to locate it

ironers and shakers Jessica Hemmings review  2006

this clever convergence of contemporary technology and traditional craft, chosen to illustrate the surface pleasure concealing the underlying pain principle, is perfectly pitched in ‘The Dangers of Sewing and Knitting’.  So much so that the exhibition has firmly yet gracefully thrown down the gauntlet in terms of challenging perceptions of traditional handcrafts (and their accompanying exhibitions) as safe, passive, pretty, even precious affairs.

dangers of sewing and knitting Caroline Ednie   Crafts Scotland 2005

here is work indeed looking at through a looking glass: its breadth of inclusion is as skilled as the stitching

bugged Mary Schoeser crafts magazine 2004

as an artist Deirdre Nelson has an almost amphibious quality, able to move with ease between past and present. She is equally at home in each and capable of manipulating the techniques of either to her own creative ends.

atropaeic cache Elizabeth Smith embroidery magazine 2004