@ The Knitting and Stitching Show, London

I exhibited with Studio 21 at The Knitting and Stitching Show, Alexandra Palace, London, a few weeks ago.  Some of the work is going on to Dublin and Harrogate, and Farfield Mill in Cumbria this autumn (2018).

When I turned up to steward at the show, two notices had been added around the embroidered cloth saying, ‘Please do not touch’.  I was delighted that people felt the need to touch the cloth, although I suppose I wouldn’t have been so delighted if it became grey at the edges!  The framed work was about denying touch (amongst other things).  I was so glad that this aspect of the work had been picked up on and that people wondered why I had made it, spent so long embroidering it and had then hung it up like a domestic cloth.

Unfortunately, because my work is often monochrome the visual images are never very good!

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Two works: Cloth of Dreams (2017) and Remembering, Retracing, Reworking (2018).

 

 

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Dutch Resistance Embroideries

The week before last I returned to Het Verzetsmuseum in Amsterdam to view some embroideries in the archive, worked by women of the Dutch Resistance. The women had been held in various prisons and camps including Ravensbruck. It was a privilege to handle these embroideries and to learn about the stories behind them. I found them very moving.  The visit made me reflect again upon what gets to be saved or discarded and why?

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Made by M. Schalker-de Vries. The information with the textile states that it was (possibly) worked in Ravensbruck.

The Hear, Hear Project

At The Festival of Crafts @ Farnham Maltings, Surrey, UK,  October 2018

 

This is a big ‘Thank You’ to all the people who took part in the project last weekend at The Festival of Crafts at Farnham Maltings.  I was overwhelmed by the goodwill of everyone and their willingness to participate, and of course talk about embroidery, the vote and their lives. It was even more interesting to set up the project at The Maltings, as there was not a pre-conceived idea that the event would be about suffragettes and the vote (as at other sites where the project has been set up).  It all made for a different experience this time.

I’d also like to thank Naomi, Jule, Louise and Gemma for helping to make it possible at the Maltings – what a great place!

I’m hoping to carry on the project beyond this important year (the 100 year anniversary of some women gaining the vote in the UK) just because of the wonderful reception at Farnham. When I arrived home, Haslemere Museum had contacted me about participating in an event of theirs in the New Year (2019) about Women’s Suffrage so I think the project may return there.

I was asked where the cloth might eventually end up? It will form part of my practice as research for exhibition. I have my eye on a fantastic venue so I will keep the blog posted about the progress in that direction!

The Here, Hear Project (2017- )

I have been taking this project to museums and seminars, conferences, to draw attention to women’s suffrage and embroidery. It has been wonderfully received by everyone. The project involves making a mark of choice on the cloth to signify the vote and the importance of the vote in representing voice.

I can honestly say that every mark involved a conversation. I’m hoping to take it to another meeting next Tuesday!

I have been asked what will happen to the cloth, which is part of the reason why I’m writing this to give an update. I will hopefully keep it moving until my final exhibition for the PhD (2020) and then show it and invite all concerned. From the start though, it was never about the end product but about participation. Hopefully something thought provoking has come out of it for all involved. Here are some images.

 

Thank you to everyone who has taken part already and to everyone who helped and facilitated the project.

The Waning of the Light

At the end of last year (2017) I made an embroidery called The Waning of the Light as part of my practice as research into embroidery made in prison by Suffragettes. The embroidery was actually three embroidered cloths that slotted together. The cloth was an open weave linen and the thread was a very lustrous black silk. I made the decision that the whole work should just be about embroidering and so I completely covered each of the cloths with thread in satin stitch. The result was that the upper surface was very visual and the underside of the cloths very ‘hairy’. In fact it looked like fur. It was uncanny.

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The work was inspired by a quote from a speech given by Lady Constance Lytton in 1910, about forcible feeding in prison.  She stated,

… two women who, as I did, are watching the waning of the light, and knowing when the light fades it is only a question of minutes before this torture – one can call it by no other name – is inflicted on their helpless bodies, where there will be no witnesses and no appeal.

(Lytton, Votes for Women, 04/02/1910)

I imagined the women to be stoical and resolute, holding together.  Did embroidering record and express this endurance and the relational?

I exhibited the cloth on a crude wooden table at the UCA exhibition and conference Temporal Connections, earlier in 2018. The curator, Loucia Manipoulou asked me if she could include it in an exhibition about women’s suffrage at Sketch, in Mayfair this summer, so it is currently there until September 2018.

Dutch Resistance Embroideries

I recently made a preliminary visit to the Dutch Resistance Museum in Amsterdam to follow up on some information about embroideries made by women imprisoned during WWII  (for their activities in the Dutch resistance).

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This embroidery was made by Jacoba Maria Blom-Schuh.  The museum records that,

‘In April 1941, Jacoba Maria Blom-Schuh of The Hague tells a Winter Help collector,

” I won’t contribute to Winter Help until our queen comes back.  The proceeds from Winter Help are for the Germans and the NSB members, and they’re a gang of thieves, just like Adolf Hitler.”

The collector files a report and Maria Schuh is put into prison for three months.  The experience does not soften her temperament.  The SS guards give her their socks to darn and she sews them shut, supposedly out of ignorance.  Later she makes embroidery samples of her prison experiences.’

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Jacoba Maria Blom-Schuh

I found the following embroideries worked by Dutch resistance women. They were embroidered in Scheveningen Prison (so named the Oranje Hotel).

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At the entrance to the museum and at the exit was a quote from the Dutch poet, Remco Campert.  I found the complete poem.

Resistance doesn’t begin with big words

Resistance doesn’t begin with big words but with small deeds

like a storm with a soft rattling in the garden or a cat that gets a bit mad in the head

like wide rivers with a small spring hidden away in a forest

like a sea of fire with the same wooden match that lights a cigarette

like love with but one look a touching of something you notice in a voice

asking yourself a question with this begins resistance

and then asking another this question.

 

I thought it was appropriate to juxtapose the poem with these small works.

Cloth of Dreams

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I have just finished this cloth as part of my research project and it is now exhibited in ‘Somatic Shifts’ at the Zandra Rhodes Gallery at UCA, Rochester, until the 4th of April 2017. I am then including it in ‘The Archive Project’ exhibition @ The Cello Factory, Waterloo, 4th May-12th May 2017.

It was inspired by the suffragette cloths embroidered in Holloway. It was such a struggle to work this cloth. The thread continuously shredded. It became an endurance test to complete it.

Here are two more images. I used the stone and the hoop to help maintain the tension whilst I embroidered it. I displayed the finished cloth on a sheet of reinforced glass at Rochester along with the scissors , stone and the needle. I wanted it to be both fragile and beautiful.

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Three Banners by Joan Drew

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The Embroiderers’ Guild have recently exhibited three banners from their collection at Alexandra Palace, London. They were made by Joan Drew in the early 20th C.

Here is the first of the three, made by Joan Drew and Winifred Fletcher in 1912. It was made for Blackheath Village Hall in Surrey (EG 5089). They have used linen and threads in suffragette colours. It is hand embroidered mostly in satin stitch, but with some gold work couching and in places the satin stitch develops into stem stitch.

The text reads,

Our fight is to make straight paths for those that come after, to bear a light in the dark ways and to make the wilderness to blossom as a rose.

The text reminds me of the Glasgow style and the band above it is of multiple roses.

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The second banner was made by Joan Drew and her pupils in the early 20th C (EG 5088). It is made in linen and is appliquéd and hand embroidered. It was also made for Blackheath Village Hall, Surrey.

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It is made in suffragette colours too and has the text ‘For Home and Country’ embroidered on a scroll. The text is embroidered in satin stitch.

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There is gold work on the panel.

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The third banner was made in 1920 by Joan Drew and her pupils for Blackheath Village Hall and depicts a castle and gorge (EG5087). It reminds me of work by Marian Stoll.

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More about Joan Drew later……
And a big ‘thank you’ to Annette for alerting me to them