Thomas Roach is a Vancouver based textile artist with a particular interest in the making
and use of textiles for spiritual practice and Christian worship. He has exhibited across
Canada and his work is in church and private collections. Thomas regularly leads
workshops on meditative stitch and speaks to guilds and churches about community art
projects. In 2017 he managed the infinite: spiritual stories in cloth exhibition for the
Anglican Foundation of Canada. Thomas is a graduate (with distinction) of the Textile Arts
program at Capilano College in North Vancouver and serves as the BC Representative for
the Surface Design Association.
A significant portion of his work in recent years has been to work with churches in such a
way that they can experience the wonder of textiles all the while growing in community.
“Cloth and stitching are second nature to me. It is a privilege to hold and work with
cloth – it is vibrant with colour, texture and pattern, and so deeply imbued with
metaphor and story. It is full of contractions—it is solid, yet can flow; elaborate and
yet so simple; for everyday and for special occasions; ordinary and always
extraordinary. It is always a great conversation starter.”
Recent Projects and Commissions:
Vestments for Church of the Redeemer, Toronto (completed 2018)
A red set (including laudian frontal, chasuble, stoles, burse and veil) and a green set
(chasuble, stoles, burse and veil to complement an existing laudian frontal) were created
from the same design concept. The community’s handwritten prayers were screen printed
on the silk to create a layer of visual texture, sometimes discernable, sometimes not.
Central motifs for both sets were drawn from architectural details in the church sanctuary.
Prayers of the Church Project, Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver (completed 2016)
At the heart of this year-long community art project was the desire to help make the
connection between prayer/meditation and handwork – every stitch being a prayer. More
than 60 parishioners assisted in the creation of 230 textile panels permanently installed in
the Cathedral’s west alcove and rotating in three sets with the liturgical seasons. Historic
decommissioned textiles used for the project were augmented with silks printed with the
prayers of the community. Many hours of hand stitching and embellishment were done by
participants drawing from a store of threads and trims from a now-dormant liturgical arts
group. The final work seeks to honour a long tradition of liturgical textiles at Christ Church.
Common Threads Indigo Quilts, Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver (completed 2014)
This two year project, co-created with Sheila Wex, began with teaching about 40 people
how to dye with indigo using a variety of techniques to create pattern. From the 90 yards of
cotton, linen and silk that was dyed, 27 quilts were created by 125 people – some
individually, some in small groups and some one block at a time. Participants came from
the parish and also the broader quilting/textile communities. The resulting quilts line the
parish hall, enhancing it both aesthetically and acoustically.