About The Thread of Life

The Thread of Life

The Thread of Life is a contemporary art project using the traditional medium of cross-stitch.

As part of the project I invited people to sew their own version of a basic pattern I had designed based on a strand of DNA. I also worked on my own large scale piece of cross-stitch work. The work will be exhibited at Cromford Mills, Derbyshire, in April 2016 (See my events page for more information).


The work is inspired by the Three Fates, or Moirai, of Ancient Greek Myth. In myth, each of the Moirai spins, allots and cuts each person’s thread of life, thus dictating their lifespan. Their names are Clotho (the spinner) Lachesis (the allotter) and Atropos (the un-turnable, the who cuts the threads). This puts me in mind of DNA, and the way that this thread may dictate our own lifespan.

The Moirai

DNA Work

Participants were invited to sew their own version on the DNA pattern I had designed. People were encouraged to adapt the pattern in any way they wished to make their work individual. This meant picking their own colours, embellishments, style, and even materials, or even adapting the pattern itself to incorporate their own deigns. The only stipulation was that each piece must be on 14 count Aida (standard sized cross-stitch fabric), or equivalent sized fabric. The idea is that each piece should be as individual as the person making it.

work on wall and Mossbeck

A selection of DNA works

Large Scale Cross-stitch

For my own work I produced a large scale cross-stitch piece, which is approximately one square meter, stitched onto 14 count Aida.

small sized pattern

The Thread of Life Pattern, 24 A4 sheets of graph paper and pencil.

The work is inspired by Byzantine Church domes, but with imagery relating to the Moirai and DNA.  It hangs 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. The aim is to make a sculptural piece using traditional cross-stitch methods. It was my intention that, due to time restrictions,  the work would be unfinished. The work is ultimately about time and the impossible struggle to complete something perfectly, much like our journey through life. The Aida has been covered with clay, to give the impression of fresco plaster so that exposed areas resemble a crumbling church ceiling.

late Aprilstart of Sept

Images of work in progress


Through this project, I hope to change the perception of cross-stitch in contemporary art. Cross-stitch is often seen as twee, or as an easy form craft. However, I am interested in the potential that the materials themselves have, and the restrictions presented by the gridded fabric. I want to explore new possibilities for the medium to help bring it into a contemporary art context. As such, I am looking to push the boundaries, and make new experimental works.


The project has been funded by an Indigogo crowdfunding campaign, as well as through contributions from the John-Downes Memorial Trust and Arts Council England. For full details of contributors please follow the link below.


Media and More Information

The project has received lots of attention from the media, as well as galleries and other venues. If you would like to be involved, write about the project, more information, or are a venue looking to work together in some way, please email me, sharonmossbeck@hotmail.co.uk