The Embroiderer's Garden
An exhibition of vintage needlework
5th Jan - 28th Mar
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“In the late 60's and 70's I used to go to Jumble Sales which were held in church and community halls to raise money for charities and local projects. Local people were asked to bring unwanted items that were then randomly put on tables that one could rummage through.
At that time people were discarding products that were no longer fashionable. I then realised that there was this wealth of beautifully hand-crafted needlework that nobody wanted. Each piece was special and people in the 1930's, 40's & 50's would create garden inspired pieces to embellish their living spaces. Many would not have had their own gardens but would bring light, colour and pattern into their lives to share. So with a needle and thread & minimum costs they engaged with nature and created patterns on useful objects such as doilies, tray cloths, table cloths, cushions, fire screens and tea cosies that could be enjoyed and shared. Mainly the designs from that time were pre-printed transfers (designs on paper) that were purchased or came in a magazine with instructions and only required the image to be ironed on to the fabric ready for embroidery.
The pleasure of the garden and plants to a grower or an embroiderer have remarkable similarities. Plants, earth, water, stone from the real garden are substituted by the embroiderer by a rich variety of materials from the thickest of wools to the finest silks.
William Morris said “Embroideries are gardening with silk and gold thread.”
In this exhibition we will be showing domestic embroideries from the 1930's, 40's & 50's."
Frances Cowper (Des RCA)