Okay - not lately - but in the winter of 2006, my husband and I spent five weeks in England - four in London, with a few side trips, capped off with a week in Yorkshire to attend the first ever Ackworth sampler event! While Becky mends, I'll take you down memory lane with me as we look at some of the needlework we saw (and we saw a LOT)!
We were up at 8 and figuring out which tube stations we needed to get to the Victoria and Albert - and off we went around 10 to spend the day. This is a gorgeous museum, and very large - easy to get lost in. And of course, we got very confused when we got off the tube train to find a sign saying - this way to the subway to the V&A. Then we realized that they meant a tunnel to walk through, which was good - we weren't quite sure we'd be able to negotiate the streets, so having a sign saying "this way, stupid" is a good idea! I also like the way the tube stations all have signs saying "way out", in case you don't know what "exit" means, I guess, hahahaha. Sounds a bit like the old Barnum joke - "This way to the Egress", doesn't it? As soon as we were in the galleries, I asked about photographs, and find that there are no limitations on taking or sharing photos. So I took plenty. These are some of my best, and I hope give you an idea of what it was like there, so you can start to plan your own trip.
We wandered around a bit to find what we wanted - spent a nice little bit of time in the fashion exhibit, and then it was off to the British Galleries! I had a date with Martha Edlin!
We happened to stumble upon this pretty jacket which was later to become one of the models for the Plimoth Jacket Project! Behind is a painting of Margaret Layton, wearing the jacket! I took this photo without knowing how much I would later read about it and others like it in The Embroiderer's Story!
There are lots of wonderful textiles - costumes, rugs, table carpets, tapestries and embroideries in the British Galleries, and I knew that Martha was supposed to be there. I spent an hour or so just wandering and stopping to take photos, and came upon a lovely casket with the mica still attached. I loved this piece and looked at it for quite some time - and also took lots of photos.
Next, I found some Mary Queen of Scots embroideries that looked as though they'd been finished just last week! I spent a bit of time there, too. :D
Finally, as I wandered around the corner from there, there she was - Martha Edlin - all her things together in one spot - one very dark corner! It really touched me, though, to see all her embroidered pieces together with her toys and needlework tools.
Items found in the casket.
The sign says all these pieces have been handed down for 300 years through the female line of her family. They all must have handled them very carefully, as they are in wonderful condition! The oddest part, though, is that until I got my pictures up on the screen of my computer back home, I wasn't able to see much detail, because it was so dark! I kept peering in to try to see things and I don't know how many times my head ran into the glass!
Her early sampler was there, then a whitework sampler, a beaded book cover, TWO mirror-surrounds, one finished and one in progress, as well as her casket, the needlework tools and some embroidered pincushions. All in all, it's a very impressive grouping all from one person.
I got some great shots, though, so I know I will be able to blow them up and see the details, but still. I also checked in the gift shop to see if they had any CD-ROM's or anything with pictures of the casket - it would have been so nice just to have the pictures they had from the little video that sits beside the case - but there was nothing like that. I'll be going back again and can ask if they have anything like that, but it sure wasn't evident...
From the little video, you can see all four sides, and the inside of the box, which is very cool! I'd love to be able to look at those pictures longer. We had lunch in the cafe there at the museum - a very hearty beef and ale pie with the ubiquitous mashed potatoes.
In the afternoon, we wandered a little bit to get "the feel of the place", then finished up back in the British Galleries to see the rest. It seemed like the day went by so fast - before we knew it, we'd been there for almost 7 hours and were so tired we could hardly get back to the tube station!
More adventures to come...