Exhibition: Kind Words Can Never Die

textile-museum-of-canada-kind-words-can-never-die

Exhibition dates: 22 February – 25 June 2017

Kind Words Can Never Die presents an extraordinary collection of Victorian needlework mottos stitched by anonymous women and girls in the mid to late nineteenth century. Mass produced by American wholesale companies, standardised sheets of perforated cardboard were printed with messages such as biblical quotes, song titles and popular maxims of the time that reflected the cultural and religious milieu of the North American evangelical Protestant middle class: ‘Do Right and Fear Not’; ‘What is Home Without a Mother?’; ‘Kind Words Can Never Die’. Women ordered the mottos from mail order catalogues, stitched them using a simple satin stitch and hung them in the home in specially designed motto frames.

With the rise of industrial manufacturing, men worked outside the home in growing numbers, setting established home and family structures into flux. Women increasingly took control of domestic space as consumers and moral influencers. Their decisions of which mottos to stitch and hang on the walls declared which of society’s ethical, cultural and religious edicts would guide the aesthetic and moral tone of the home. As objects of material culture, the mottos attest to the work women did to cultivate carefully chosen personal and social values in their families.

This particular collection of mottos was built by Jane Webster (1919–2009) from the mid to late twentieth century at her home in the Caribou Harbour area of Pictou, Nova Scotia. Family photos of the interior of the home taken in the 1940s show a few mottos on the wall ­— just enough to spark a collector’s passion in Jane, who had recently started spending time at the house. Jane purchased the mottos from farm auctions and received them as gifts, eventually amassing 173 examples that represent the vast majority of available motto texts. In Jane’s possession, the mottos were relieved of their purpose as edifying agents and re-contextualised as curious objects displayed in the spirit of generosity, welcoming and wit.

For more information, visit the website of the Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto.

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Exhibition: From Sweden to Sardinia – Embroidered Garments from All Over Europe

TRC - From Sweden to Sardinia

Exhibition dates: opens 30 August 2016

For centuries, people all over Europe have been decorating their clothing with what are often highly intricate forms of ornamental needlework. The Textile Research Centre (TRC) in the Netherlands is therefore very pleased about their recent acquisition of about sixty embroidered Hungarian garments and over 1,400 items of European regional dress, many of which are embroidered. The TRC now has one of the largest collections of traditional European clothing in Europe. Over the next few years they plan to highlight various aspects of this stunning array of European material culture, in both actual and digital exhibitions.

To celebrate the recent acquisitions, and to draw attention to regional European decorative needlework, the latest TRC gallery exhibition – opening today – will show needlework from many parts of Europe. The exhibition includes a wide variety of colourful, subtle, marvellous outfits and individual garments, as well as many women’s lace and embroidered caps. They derive from all over Europe, including the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and of course the Netherlands, to name just a few countries. Emphasis is laid on the many different forms and techniques of decoration that have been used, and which are often still used by people all over Europe in order to indicate their region’s particular character.

For more information, visit the website of the Textile Research Centre, Leiden, Netherlands.