One of the current free exhibitions at the NGV is called ” Exquisite Threads – English Embroidery 1600s to 1900s.”
These days we aren’t used to seeing embroidery that is done by friends and family and most of us don’t do it ourselves. As I walked in I tried to remember any of my friends or even acquaintances who have embroidered anything. Sadly, I couldn’t bring one to mind. Perhaps they do it secretly! Usually when we see embroidery it comes from Asia.
The exhibition is showing examples of embroidery that has been done over the last few centuries in England
This exhibition starts in about the mid 1600s with this complicated piece made with some ‘raised work’.
It would be interesting to know if one person worked on this and if so how long it took them. It is dense with stitching! The information supplied says it is a political scene of Charles I and his wife Henrietta Maria of France. I love the dog at their feet gnawing away at a bone.
Most of the examples in the exhibition are beautiful and well worth seeing if only to marvel at how such exquisite things can be made by hand and to marvel at how they have survived through the centuries in such good condition. I was stunned at how young some of the girls were who made them. Often their name and age is embroidered into the design.
It seems that the English always embroidered. History doesn’t give a start date for this skill. It can be said to have started in antiquity. I wonder if it is a skill that is being carried on and will girls being born now ever learn to do it. It appears to have only been done by woman and girls.
The family register is an unusual idea and I can see it hanging in the hallway of a London Town House. Useful perhaps but not a piece that would be very interesting to embroider as all the thread-work is in black.
I much prefer the Jacobean work that in comparison is a riot of colour.
The exhibition finishes on the July 12th and it is well worth seeing if you can make it by the 12th of the month.
What:- Exquisite Threads- English Embroidery 1600s to 1900s -Now and until July 11th
Where:- National Gallery of Victoria
St Kilda Road
Phone 8620 2222
Opening Hours:- Wednesday to Monday 10.00am to 5.00pm CLOSED TUESDAY
You can check out current and up-coming exhibitions from the National Gallery web site