Search This Blog

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Quaker Embroideries in Adelaide

The Quaker community in Australia is working on producing a series of embroideries along the lines of those in Kendal, Cumbria UK. The 77 Kendal panels were worked between 1981 and 1989 by 4000 embroiderers in 15 countries and tell the some of the story of Quakerism. The Australian Quaker Narrative Embroidery/Friends in Stitches Project is the result of a visit of an Australian Quaker to Kendal in 2005 which was followed by a visit to Australia in 2007 from the Director of the Kendal project. 

So far 16 panels have been worked on the Australian project which aims for 40 panels.
The Australian panels use the same format and design templates as those in Kendal, and the same range of stitches. The colour palette is slightly different, reflecting both the Australian landscape and the interpretation of the stitchers.

The panels completed so far were on display at the Friends Meeting Room in Adelaide from 26-29 October 2017.  They are remarkable on a number of fronts.

Finding the images, stitches, design and words that convey a whole narrative episode in a panel is an art. It has found its stride in this project.  I came away with a strong sense of the Society of Friends in Australia.

The women staffing the exhibition were knowledgable, helpful and welcoming. They gave permission to take  photos and also to write about the exhibition in my blog.

As there are few photographs of the panels online I have focused on the embroidery detail rather than whole panels. I also emailed a draft copy of the blog to the address the women provided with the offer to alter or edit and the offer stands.

The photos are copyright. Any requests to reproduce should be directed to the Australian Quaker Narrative Embroidery Project.

The background fabric is wool, grown, spun and woven in Queensland and providing a lovely textured, firm and even surface for stitching.

The design skill of individual stitchers is evident in the stance of the figures depicted - they lean into conversation or activity. Their faces, with a few well-placed stitches, give them personality, making them, I am sure, recognisable.

The same range of stitches has been used as was used in the Kendal work. A book of stitches produced in Kendal was on display.

Anne Wynn-Wilson, while working on the original Quaker tapestry project, developed a stitch, now known as Quaker stitch, for embroidering the text that is an integral part of each panel.  The stitch produces a beautifully clear text that contributes significantly to the elegance of the panels. I intend to learn and apply Quaker stitch to my own work.

The detail of the flora and fauna depicted on the panels is terrific, cleverly conveying dimension with a limited range of stitches and superb colour choice.

My favourite depiction is of a tractor - the wheels given movement and dimension by the creation of spaces and angle.

I feel privileged to  have seen this exhibition - and enriched both by its contribution to Australian embroidery and, more importantly, its contribution to Australian culture and history.

I hope to see the other panels as they emerge - and one day the completed project.

1 comment:

Monica said...

What an interesting exhibit! The work is lovely -- I love the herbs. And I particularly like that hand loomed (I assume) fabric! I'm sure the full tapestry will be wonderful when complete. :D