Friday, 21 October 2016

Giving Credit Where it is Due

You know when we all walk around historic properties and wonder 'who made that'? Wouldn't it be nice to know more about the pieces which interest us and the people who made them? 

The Quilters Guild have undertaken an oral history project to record the making of quilts. Every quilter has a story to tell about the quilts they make. Quilts are made to celebrate, remember, for healing or therapy, as art or simply for pleasure. Talking Quilts is saving the stories of present day quilters by recording their narratives, practices and experiences, creating a national collection of quilters’ stories, including sound and video recordings, photographs and transcripts.

You can search for quilters in a particular region of the UK, or just dip in if you like the look of a finished quilt.

Hopefully this project will lead the way towards giving our craftspeople more credit for the special things they make and save the information for posterity.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Opus Anglicanum Exhibition at the V&A

Opus Anglicanum (meaning 'work of the English') are usually, but not always, religious embroideries.  They are made of pure silk, pure gold threads and employ, amongst other stitches, a method called underside couching which means that the whole piece is worked from the reverse.

When you consider the instruments the male embroiderers would have had at their disposal  - iron needle anyone? - it is astonishing that they managed to produce such detailed and impressive work.  

Most of the pieces were worked to commission in the London area and at one stage it was the centre of embroidery for the medieval world.  Sadly all that came to an end when the Black Death plague  in 1346 wiped out nearly all of the embroiderers working in London at that time. Sadly the skills were lost and the London master craftsmen never regained their previous prowess.

The V&A have 100 of these masterpieces on display until February 2017, although you will need to book and pay for a ticket to see them.  More details from

Friday, 7 October 2016

Capability Brown 300th Anniversary at Berrington Hall

I was really pleased and surprised when my husband and I visited the National Trust's Berrington Hall on the way back from holiday this week to catch the Embroiders Guild Capability Brown exhibition there.  I hadn't known it was on (if truth be told our main reason for the stop was a cuppa and a stretch of the legs). We are members of the trust, and will often plan our stops around their properties when travelling. I have found when doing this that some properties really stand out - not necessarily for their history or beauty, but for the warmth, knowledge and friendliness of the trust's staff and volunteers. Berrington had this in bucketfuls and what was intended to be a short comfort break quickly turned into a 2 hour visit. The chap on the gate walked us onto the right path to show us where to go, telling us about what was on that day and highlighting things we may want to see. Once up at the house we had a great talk in the dining room making the house history really interesting and accessible. In every room we were welcomed and engaged in conversation. So finding the guild's exhibition was really the icing on the cake - I especially liked the teacup trees.  Do try to visit if you can; it really was worthwhile and an absolute pleasure. The guild's exhibit is on until the end of this month.

"Berrington was Brown’s final landscape project. Here he created a parkland and estate with vistas and views within the larger landscape. Like an embroiderer creating texture and form he manipulated nature and as one contemporary commentator remarked ‘so closely did (Brown) copy nature that his works will be mistaken for nature."

For more details visit the site at