The Cottage Orné Quilt

The Cottage Orné Quilt
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Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Visiting the Tokyo Quilt Show

Six years ago in January I visited the Tokyo Quilt Show.  It was so exciting visiting Japan as I had long admired the quilts made there and I loved the whole experience even though it was bitterly cold and Tokyo had its first snow in six years!.

The show was mind blowing.  They have about 250 thousand visitors and it is opened by one of the Royal Family and has an ongoing live TV show covering all aspects of the show.  There were so many things to absorb it took three visits and then I'm sure I missed lots.

One of the things I most enjoyed were the famous quilters' displays - here is one from the latest show this January which featured rooms of quilt artists.  This is Keiko Goke and her very colourful work -

This is such a good idea.  I just loved looking at the work of all these clever quilters and having a chance to meet them and try a talk to them.  It was easily the best part of the show for me and I wish other big shows would copy the idea!  Many do have famous quilters' galleries but I prefer this more informal approach.

The year I was there is was styled workrooms which, though they were obviously contrived, were extremely decorative and enjoyable to view and did give a glimpse into the life of the quilt artist and what inspires them.

Of course it does take up a lot of space but then the Tokyo Dome, which is a baseball venue, is more than big enough to cope!

This picture is from this year's event - I don't know the ladies, but check out the masks!

This will give you some idea of the venue - we all sat in the tiered seats when we wanted a rest or to eat our lunch.  A wonderful experience!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Comparing Five Samplers

Following on from my last post about the two images I found in Hardy's Cottage on the National Trust Collections website, the second was a sampler which I had seen in situ many years ago.

Though I have been concentrating on quilts for the last twelve years, prior to this I was working on my  first book which was on samplers and I continue to be extremely interested in their history.  It's a very frustrating form of research, because so many of our British samplers are sold and resold through dealers and auction houses and each time they change hands vital information is lost, so it's an uphill struggle trying to make sense of it all.

As in the USA,  the majority of our British samplers were made in schools, which means that there are groups of samplers very similar in form and substance because they were based on the same design.  If just one sampler can be identified as coming from a certain school in a certain place, it usually means that all the rest in that group were made there too.

Lets start with this one, it's quite well known as it's in the V&A collection.

It was made by Sophia Stephens, around 1830 and I hope you will be able to see that the house is named as Horse Hill House near London.  This sampler is quite large in comparison to the others below, though no size is given.

Now here's another -

This sampler was made by Mary Davis in 1825.  It has many of the same ingredients including the same border though the house is different and is named as Newton Cottage. It like all the others is much smaller than the first one by Sophia Stephens, though all share key ingredients.

Here's another made by Jane Mortimer in 1822

Again it has the same border and many of the same motifs but this time there are two houses - Horse Hill House and Newton Cottage!

Now we come to my discovery at Hardy's birthplace -

It was made by Esther Ann Turner aged 11, in 1839 and again shows Newton Cottage.

My book "House and Garden Samplers" features yet another one lent to me by a friend

It was made by Eleanor Roberts in 1835 and this time, though it isn't named, the house is Horse Hill House and again it has the same border and other identical motifs.

Well what do you make of it all?  Are the houses real houses, which wasn't usually the case with houses depicted on samplers and if they were, were they near London?  These two aren't the stereotyped sampler house and do have a look of real houses and both are named, but why did all the girls use the same two houses over a period of years.  Did they have two house patterns to choose from and Jane Mortimer being ambitious decided to do both? 

We shall probably never know, but wouldn't it be nice to find out more?  All we need to discover is a village near London with a Horse Hill House and a Newton Cottage - easy peasy!  Answers in comments box please!

Sunday, 19 February 2012

National Trust Collections now online

I don't know when it happened, but I have just discovered that the National Trust Collections are now on line.  This is really good news, because until now if you saw something interesting in one of their properties, especially if it was a textile, you wouldn't have be able to obtain an image of it, let alone any information.

You have heard me grizzle before about museum websites being difficult to negotiate and in comparison this NT site isn't too bad. You can either search through a property or a category.  "Textiles" is a very varied category and I had to trawl through a great deal of quite boring stuff to find things that interested me i.e. quilts and samplers.  However I did have some success - two items from Hardy's cottage - one this very beautiful patchwork coverlet.  Perhaps a bit high status for such a humble cottage but an English coverlet where the design has been planned for once!

Sorry about the quality of the picture, I have tried to enhance it but without success, it is simply not a good enough image to start with which is a shame because it is a very pretty coverlet.

Here are some closeups I found on Google Images and it looks as if many of the pieces have been appliqued to the background rather than pieced.

If you haven't been to Thomas Hardy's birthplace in Dorset  you have missed a treat - it really is the most delightful little thatched cottage and set in a pretty garden.  If you do have a chance to visit, don't take the easy way along the lane, approach it through the wood, it's a bit of a trek but well worth it and try not to get lost as my husband and I did, pick up a map!

Referring back to the NT Collections website, I'm not giving it high marks because the pictures generally are not good enough and seem to vary from property to property.  Though there is a zoom facility on all the images I would prefer to be able to save a much larger image as a reference. 

Could do better NT, but may be seven out of ten for a reasonable attempt at moving with the times!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

English Summer Coverlet c. 1820-25

It's amazing what you find when you start trawling the auction archives - this beautiful unquilted patchwork coverlet for instance!  It's such a hotchpotch of a design and would perhaps benefit from a few quiet areas? 

It's a shame that this picture of the centre is a bit out of focus, but isn't it wonderful?

As usual there is absolutely no provenance so we don't know where it was made or who made it, but it doesn't look as if it has been used.  I wonder where it is now?  Some lucky person owns a treasure!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

A new obsession!

Pinterest is my new obsession and I am spending far too much time collecting images to the detriment of everything else.  Fortunately the weather is so miserable that one doesn't feel too guilty being at the computer - it's a different matter when the sun is shining!

What I enjoy about collecting on Google images is that one doesn't know where it  will lead!  It's like a magical mystery tour - you may be looking for quilts but other, quite unrelated, things turn up!  However, samplers are appearing in abundance and I've chosen this one to show you.  (I've put this link so that you can go to the original source and see a much enlarged version of this sampler if you keep clicking) -

This sampler is packed with content yet very organised and  I love the clothed Adam and Eve!  The capital lettering of the name and month are unusual on a Welsh sampler and at first glance look rather Scottish!

It isn't anything like the Welsh samplers I have described in my earlier post. It was made in 1843, just before the time when woollen samplers seem to burst on the scene and the Welsh language began to appear. The naming of of Wrexham Church is a obvious indication but images of churches were very common on Welsh samplers and are always an indication of Welshness. As are the flight of birds surrounding the church and the style of the tree and plant motifs.

What I find interesting, is that though Wrexham is in North Wales, this sampler displays motifs very much in the style of those found on samplers made in South Wales and this is unusual.

Monday, 6 February 2012

God Bless Her Majesty

God Bless The Queen - it is sixty years ago today since she ascended the Throne.

We will be celebrating later in June but today is the actual anniversary so let's do something now -

While we are about it let's stand up and sing - I especially like the third verse!


Sunday, 5 February 2012

Glasgow and Camille Pissarro

I spent much of my teens and twenties living in Glasgow, the commercial capital of Scotland.  I look back on that time with great affection and take every opportunity to return to the city for a refresher course in Glaswegian.  It has changed a good deal since I lived there, mostly for the better, it is now a much cleaner and more pleasant place to live, though I do miss some of the wonderful department stores I used to haunt.   

One of the reasons for this change was that it was declared the European City of Culture in 1990 which has boosted its tourist trade enormously.  I am mentioning this because it leads to the other part of the title of this post, Camille Pissarro.

In the Year of Culture I visited The Burrell Collection, then a newly built museum, for the very first time. I was attending an evening  reception for the Embroiderers' Guild, but while we were mingling and enjoying the experience of a quiet museum, a private view of the works of Camille Pissarro was also taking place - it was an evening to remember! 

Pissarro is one of my favourite artists.  Every time I come across an impressionist painting that I like, it's usually painted by him.  He is very versatile and as you can see from the above picture, he can paint as prettily as Renoir, though I particularly love his street and river scenes -

Then there are his landscapes -

and he can do portraits too -

Self Portrait

Luckily we have some of  his paintings here at the National Musuem of Wales, so I don't have to go too far to see the real thing.  However, on that evening in The Burrell, paintings from all over the world had been gathered, so we could study, compare and admire them at our leisure in wonderful surroundings.  I shall never forget it!

If you would like to see more paintings click here - if you scroll down there's a video!.