Enfilade

Exhibition | Embroidery Inspired by the Garden

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on September 19, 2014

As noted at the website of the Chelsea Physic Garden:

Inspired by the Garden
Royal School of Needlework, London, 8 September 2014 — 20 March 2015

Curated by Susan Kay-Williams

The Royal School of Needlework will exhibit a display of embroideries with a garden theme at its home at Hampton Court Palace.

1.-Silk-shading-18th-century-floral-display

Silk shading 18th-century floral display

Almost since the start of embroidery, capturing flowers and the natural world has been an irresistible subject for stitch. Embroidery lends itself perfectly to capturing the textures, colours, shapes and movement of nature and on show will be beautiful pieces of work including traditional floral interpretations and a host of more unusual embroidery subjects from vegetables and fruit to fungi.

The exhibition will feature historic work from the RSN Collection together with current embroideries by RSN students and tutors—all inspired by the natural world using a variety of stitched techniques. Historical pieces date from the 18th century and the exhibition will come right up-to-date with pieces submitted in Summer 2014 for the RSN Degree, Certificate and Diploma courses. Techniques will include silk shading (also known as ‘painting with a needle’) as well as canvaswork, blackwork, metal thread embroidery, crewelwork and raised embroidery.

Dr Susan Kay-Williams, Chief Executive of the RSN and curator of the exhibition says, “Embroidery is such a versatile medium that it can transform a humble vegetable into a work of art; it can reveal new elements of a flower and maximise the sense of colourful riot that is a garden in full bloom. This exhibition which takes us through the autumn and winter months will give food for thought for the gardener, the embroiderer and the lover of colour, right through to spring.”

Individuals and groups are welcome, though pre-booking is essential. Tours are on set dates and times each month: £16 per person for 1.5hr tour or £22 per person for 2hr curator’s tour. All places must be pre-booked.

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As described by Wikipedia:

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1903 home of the School of Art Needlework; the building was demolished in 1962 (photo from the website of Brisbane-based architect Michael Heath-Caldwell).

The Royal School of Needlework (RSN) is a hand embroidery school in the United Kingdom, founded in 1872 and now based at Hampton Court Palace.

It has an archive of over 30,000 images covering every period of British history. There are also over 5,000 textile pieces, including lace, silkwork, whitework, Jacobean embroidery and many other forms of embroidery and needlework.

The Royal School of Needlework is a registered charity and has always been under royal patronage. The current patron is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The RSN began as the School of Art Needlework in 1872 founded by Lady Victoria Welby. The first President was Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, Queen Victoria’s third daughter, known to the RSN as Princess Helena. She received help from William Morris and many of his friends in the Arts and Crafts movement. It received its royal prefix in March 1875 when Queen Victoria consented to become its first patron. The word ‘Art’ was dropped from the title in 1922.

Its initial space was in a small apartment on Sloane Street, employing 20 women. The school had grown to 150 students, moving in 1903 to Exhibition Road, near to the Victoria and Albert Museum. The purposed-built building was designed by group of architects, including prominent British ‘Arts and Crafts’ architect James Leonard Williams (d.1926), who designed All Saints church in Oxted (1914–28) and St George’s in Sudbury, Middlesex (1926–27). The school moved from Princes Gate in Kensington to Hampton Court Palace in 1987 . . .

More information about the RSN’s 1903 home is available in volume 38 of the Survey of London, South Kensington Museums Area (1975), pp. 231–32, available online here.

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