Last Thursday I treated myself to a trip to the NGV, to see the Exquisite Threads: English Embroidery 1600s-1900s exhibition. For a fibre-arts nerd who has dabbled in embroidery and cross-stitch, it was totally amazing!
I spent over an hour peering closely at the stitches, taking photos, and eavesdropping on a group of women who were explaining the techniques to each other.
Some things I found surprising were the raised or 3D style of embroidery on some of the 17th and 18thC items - this isn't always apparent in photos, so a real-life look was eye-opening. The shading and range of colours was also a surprise, and got me wondering about the dyeing industry for embroidery threads. And the fineness of the work was a shock in some cases - again, it can be hard to imagine the correct scale unless you're actually there.
Click to enlarge the photos for a closer look...
|The embroidery on this is very 3D!|
|The black background is only partially filled-in|
|Some serious 3D work!|
|A dear little deer|
|A detail from a gigantic 19thC piece|
See Part II for the samplers (they deserve their own post)!