I am back in New Jersey to write this as I was just too tired on Saturday night. And yesterday Mr. M and I got to drive to Long Island so that we could have dinner with my father and sister to celebrate their birthdays (95 for him, 61 for her). Can someone explain to me how it take 2-1/4 hours to drive 125 miles from Winterthur, DE (even with some construction detours) and almost 3 hours to drive the 65 miles to Jericho, NY? Gotta love the NY/NJ Metro area!
Saturday morning I got to pack up and head over to Winterthur for a free morning just wandering around the grounds and the Galleries. I was not sure of my timing so I didn’t wander too far, but I did get to see a few of the follies on the property (a folly being a costly ornamental building with no practical purpose). Maybe if I win the lottery I can build my own folly!
The Galleries provide an up-close and personal look at objects in the museum’s collection, and the pieces are changed periodically. There are several galleries but I stayed focused on the Textiles and Needlework. (You can access the collections online.)
There was a special exhibit entitled Dining by Design: Nature Displayed on the Dinner Table which included some very elaborate table pieces.
And, of course, there was the exhibit for the conference Embroidery: The Thread of History.
One of the most impressive pieces in the exhibit is an embroidered casket and toys created by Janet Carija Brandt from Indianapolis. It is part of a group of work she created imagining the adult lives of traditional fairy tale characters. The piece on exhibit shows the life of Little Red Riding Hood. My pictures do not do this piece justice so please click on the link here; it is amazing! Be sure to explore her site to see the toys that go with the casket as well as all of her amazing work.
Of course the afternoon was spent in more fascinating lectures. Did you know that the National Archives and Records Administration in DC found six embroidered samplers in the tens of thousands of documents housed in the Archives? In Embroidered Evidence: Family Record Samplers in the Revolutionary War Pension Files of the National Archives, Washington, DC, Kathleen Staples described how these samplers were used as legal proof in determining the eligibility of claimants for Revolutionary War pensions!
In Embroidered Narratives: Storytelling Through the Eye of the Needle, Susan Boardman, an artist from Nantucket, described how she was inspired to create 8-inch by 9-inch textile narratives of women who lived on the island during the ninetheenth century. Her creations use dye painting, hand embroidery, handmade needle lace, appliqué, beadwork, gold leaf, carving and quilting.
In Collecting for Love or Money: A Discussion of Needlework Donations to The Met and the Art Institute of Chicago, Melinda Watt, Chair and Christa C. Mayer Thurman Curator of Textiles, Art Institute of Chicago, described the individuals who amassed diverse collections of European embroideries.
Our final speaker was Dr. Susan Kay-Williams, Chief Executive of the Royal School of Needlework, Hampton Court Palace, UK, who spoke on Fine and Beautiful: Historic Commissions from the RSN Studio. Dr. Kay-Williams was fascinating as she described some of the history of the RSN; it moved seven times in the 146 years since it was first established, settling in its current location in 1987. RSN tutors work in teams on a project and the training is such that no matter how many people are on the team the final piece looks as if it was completed by one person. One incredible project that they worked on was The Overlord Embroidery which tells the story of the D-Day Invasion and the Battle of Normandy in 34 embroidered panels, a total length of 83 meters (about 272 feet).
This conference was truly amazing and I’m so glad I was able to attend. The next conference will be in 2020 (date TBD) and will focus on the work of Erica Wilson, so it promises to be another exciting event.
For fans of The Crown, Winterthur will be mounting an exhibit in March 2019 entitled Dressing the Crown which will feature the fashions from the series.
Finally, for those of you who are readers of history, Dr. Joan DeJean, who I mentioned in my previous post, has written a book entitled The Queen’s Embroiderer: A True Story of Paris, Lovers, Swindlers, and the First Stock Market Crisis. I have my copy already and am looking forward to reading it.