Embroidery: Oppression to Expression

A while back, I went to the Exhibition Embroidery: Oppression to Expression at the David Roche Foundation in North Adelaide. I must admit, I only realised this private gallery was there some time in the last year. This is the first time I’ve been there. It ran through until 25 September, and inexplicably, I drafted this post and didn’t realise I had failed to post it. Sorry! I was initially attracted to the exhibit because it included a selection of survivalist samplers: part of a project initiated by Sera Waters in response to the pandemic. The example above is Survivalist Sampler: Apron by Kay Lawrence. I was particularly drawn to her use of sewing/sowing and clearly pre-loved materials.

This is Sera Waters’ Survivalist Sampler #2. Rich in details! I have watched this sampler evolve on social media and been a bit fascinated by this concept and the way many so people have taken it up.

And this is Leonie Andrews’ Survivalist Sampler: March 2020 Covid Diary. Again, rich in detail, and I love the inclusion of the pocket bags, the yellow tailed black cockatoos winging through the details of a city life. These works had me noticing how the theme of time appears again and again, whether explicitly (as in Kay Lawrence’s work) or implicitly, in the way that works engage with dailiness and detail; the small picture of the kitchen and garden rather than the world at large, with a time scale to match.

The exhibition contained a considerable selection of historical and contemporary Embroidery, drawn together from private and public collections and those in the hands of religious institutions. This placket sampler attributed to RHAS and dated 1818 is thought to have come from the Netherlands. I’ve seen buttonhole samplers before, but never a placket sampler!

My brother-in-law has framed a buttonhole sampler that has been passed down in his family, and I admire it every time I stay in their home. It’s not as fancy as this one (but it has more buttonholes!) This one is by the well known RAS, also possibly from The Netherlands.

This stomacher is by the famous, long lived and prolific female artist “Unknown”; 1715-1730. The exhibition contains many examples of beautiful garments and garment fragments. This one did have me laughing a little, as I only know what a stomacher is because I read the fabulous book The Pocket: A Hidden History of Women’s Lives, 1660-1900 by Barbara Burman and Ariane Fennetaux. Because of the historical period it covers, I learned quite a few new words!

This sampler by Mary Wilkin was one of many on display.

And this is by Charlotte Legg.

The selection of contemporary embroidery was really interesting to me. In particular, Makeda Duong’s works. Above, Sales Tips for the Red Capitalist; and below, Bipolar Disorder.

All in all–a fabulous exhibition! Sorry you’ve missed it though!


Filed under Natural dyeing

3 responses to “Embroidery: Oppression to Expression

  1. I am so glad you got to see this. If I lived locally I would have managed to go more often as there were so many interesting works both historic and contemporary to get my head around. Such a good exhibition and I’m so pround my work was included.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. janewheelercouk

    wouldn’t you think that something like that beautiful stomacher would have been made by a crafts – man in a guild set-up? I remember knitters were a proper guild with master craftsmen, making hats and stockings – stockings on knitting frames – fabulous exhibition, what great contemporary works!

    Liked by 1 person

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