Jane B (knally) wrote,
Jane B

Quaker Tapestry at Worcester Cathedral

Yesterday I took the train up to Worcester to see the travelling exhibition of the Quaker Tapestry. Its permanent base is Kendal in the Lake District, and can be viewed there from April through December, but they usually take some of it on display in February and March. I saw it in February 1996 at Winchester Cathedral and it was the prompt that made me interested in attending Quaker Meetings, but it's also a fascinating piece of modern embroidery.

Since it is some time since I'd seen it, I had forgotten what an interesting and skilled piece of embroidery it is. The Panels Page gives you an idea of the format. Generally each panel is divided into 3 sections, with the main subject in the centre and narrower top and bottom borders giving extra detail. It was stitched using commercially available Appleton Wools, but the background material was specifically woven for the project. Only a few stitch types were used, with clever use of bayeux point, which I would describe as a form of couching, to fill in expanses of the same colour. A new stitch called Quaker Stitch, a combination of stem and split stitch, evolved to help with the lettering.

One of the most delightful aspects of the tapestry are the designs done by children which are often found in the bottom border. In the panel showing the marriage of Margaret Fell and George Fox in 1669, her grown children are depicted as all being happy with the event except for a fuming George, who is shown standing alone to one side, channelling Yosemite Sam! (Panel C2)

Assorted products are produced to show off the tapestry, and this year's calendar is highlighting Quaker Botanists. Panel D8 is the specific one for this subject, and is one of the most beautiful - perhaps not surprisingly considering its subject matter of flowers introduced to Britain by the botanists; and that it was stitched by those Quakers who were teaching the stitches to other participants. The hydrangea on the right of the panel has a multi-coloured head made up of knot stitches (Peking Knots perhaps) which is very realistic.

I ended up spending a couple of hours looking at the 39 panels that were there, since there's background information to read on them, and new things to spot on re-examination. They have perspex covers on top of the panels so you can actually lean quite close for a look. If the exhibition comes your way any February, or you're in Kendal, it's worth a visit.

Worcester is a very pleasant place to wander around generally. It's about 2 1/2 hours by train from Winchester (the terminus for that line is Great Malvern, which is handy for a holiday I have booked in May) and the journey was straightforward and comfortable - as opposed to last Saturday when my two trains to London were standing room only, then extended travel times on the way back! There are several pedestrian streets for shopping, and in the older more picturesque part of the city the Royal Worcester factory and museum can be found. The River Severn flows through the city, and my visit happened to coincide with Worcester Rowing Club's Head of the River event, so about 20 rowing boats skimmed past as I walked along the bank.
Tags: quakers, stitching

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