Australian Gallery Shows Off Historic Stitchery

Australia’s National Gallery of Victoria is showcasing more than 40 historical embroidered accessories, garments and objects in an exhibit called “Exquisite Threads: English Embroidery 1600s-1900s.” The exhibition explores the role that domestic and professional embroidery played in the development and expression of English visual culture, with hand-stitching an important part of the education of young aristocratic women. A group of samplers is displayed in mirrored cases to reveal the reverse stitching techniques and original dye colors used in the pieces.

Other highlights of the exhibit include a wall hanging from British decorative arts manufacturer Morris & Co. by Catherine Holliday; an art deco evening cape from the early 20th century and an 18th-century silk apron with a botanical motif. Handmade embroidery was used to create complex patterned textiles for English fashion and interiors in centuries past, according to the gallery. It added an aesthetic dimension to practical items, such as cushions, wall hangings and bedroom furnishings, showing a family’s tastes and aspirations.