The Niche awards programme is a competition for Canadian and American fine craft persons. The competition is split between two categories, students and professionals, which creates a fair and well-balanced contest in the ferocious battle for the finest craft. The competition was set up in 1989 and comprises of a panel of judges hand chosen by Niche Magazine, who also sponsor the event. This year's Decorative Textiles winner in the professional category is Laura Foster Nicholson with her 'Prairie Flowers' tapestry (image above). Foster Nicholson creates hand-woven tapestries using architectural and landscape imagery, which can be seen on display at the Art Institute of Chicago, The Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Denver Art Museum. What makes Nicholson's work so great and a worthy winner is her technical excellence, the distinctiveness of the product but still attaining market viability. A true inspiration for budding professionals within the student category. Christine Hager-Braun is a finalist within the same category, Decorative Textiles. Christine creates art with a poignant meaning and expresses this through quilting and stitch manipulation on canvas. Her ‘Wall of Depression’ piece tries to encapsulate and expresses a state of depression while creating awareness of the illness through colour, hand and machine stitch techniques using a variety of shapes to create texture and form. A great use of textiles, colour and technical skills were used for this piece as well as using the competition as a platform to create awareness of depression, breaking down the barriers of a social taboo that is mental illness. For more information about the competition and to see more of the finalists, visit the Niche Awards 2016.