Saturday 25 April 2009

Review of An Embroiderer's Eye

Today I took the train to Macclesfield to see the Embroiderer's Eye: the Diana Springall collection at the Macclesfield Silk Museum's Paradise Mill.

The BNP were handing out leaflets on the high street, which put me off Macclesfield (though the only person I know who lives in Macclesfield isn't a fascist, so I shouldn't judge them all by what they permit on the high street). And I did end up at the wrong Silk Museum because they have 4 sites and their web site is a bit inadequate at explaining what is where or which is what, or something like that.

But on a positive note, I stumbled across a very busy haberdashery shop, I'm not sure if its called Malkin & Pyatt or The Fent Shop, but it had a wide selection of printed fabrics for traditional (or not so traditional) patchwork, and loads of other fabric as well. I may be tempted back when I feel like I've used up enough of the fabric I have in my stash. Or I may just go and buy a meter of that strawberry print, anyway!

The show was small, but still well worth seeing. The quality of the work was so high, and though it was all from one woman's personal collection, there was a wide selection of styles and techniques. I also appreciated seeing some of the sketches or plans for the pieces on display, and a few samples worked up as studies for the finished pieces.

Neat bits:

  • Setting embroidery into plaster of paris, as in Paddy Killer's Stones of Venice; could this technique be used to mix embroidery with tiling or as part of furniture?

  • Saw work by Anne Morrell, whose book I'm re-reading at the moment

  • Liked the pieces by Jane McKeating, which is good because she's a friend of a friend (via work)

  • Impressed with the or nue technique Margaret Nicholson used in Mother and Daughter; can the design process for this technique be applied to wrapping string around sticks?

  • Loved how small bits of fabric were used, especially by Richard Box in Daisies, and Rachel Setford's Sandcastles, which unfortunately isn't in the catalog, and my quick sketch from memory is a bit inadequate

  • Could a stuffed festoon be designed, similar to what Ruth Tudor did, but left soft and flexible?

The show is obviously inspiring. It's making me think again about machine embroidery. The catalog is well worth buying, though some of the pieces just don't photograph well.

Definitely worth the trip, and I did a few more rows on the rag bag. And I think I saw a bunny on the way there.

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