Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Frayed - an extraordinary textile exhibition

Yesterday I visited a textile exhibition in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.  I didn't know what to expect as I hadn't read any "blurb", in fact, from the title, "Frayed" I suppose I was expecting some modern textile art pieces!
The exhibition is in the Time and Tide Museum, an amazing building that, in Victorian times, was a herring curing works.  All the textiles on display had been thoroughly researched and so I photographed the information boards.  I hope you can read them.  There were also files of additional information available to read, if the museum/curator had published a book I think they would have sold many copies.
All the textiles were related to lives damaged in some way, through bereavement, poverty, criminality, mental illness...  I think we all know how therapeutic stitching and working with textiles can be, this exhibition reinforced that it has always been so.
Sorry that I have no close-up of the patchwork and broderie perse in these bed hangings, I set an alarm off just getting this photograph!
I did take a picture of the space above the bed in the exhibition though, this is where the fish would have been hanging to cure.
Hanging alongside each other were contemporary pieces by prisoners in the Fine Cell Work scheme and a quilt made by the female inmates of Newgate Prison in 1817 under the direction of Elizabeth Fry.
The exhibition was rather emotionally draining and so I shall spread it over a couple of posts and finish for today with this sampler in cross stitch:
The exhibition continues until March 2014, I urge you to see it if you are in Norfolk and also recommend the curator's blog for lots more information.


  1. What an amazing achievement the bed hangings are, although they were stitched in a time of grief. Working on them must have helped this sad mother immensely.

  2. Thank you for a trip down memory lane!
    I went to the Time and Tide Museum two months ago to see the stunning pictures of Alfred Wallis in this amazing museum! In the permanent exhibition of the Row there are some nice pieces of embroidery and lace as well.
    I saw the Brereton bed hangings at Stangers' Hall in Norwich some nice years ago; I bet you found them as mesmerisingly beautiful as I did.
    On the curator's web site I read the article by Carolyn Ferguson about the bed hangings and that reminded me of another visit to Strangers' Hall together with Carolyn!

  3. Thank you very much for this post and photos - I went to the exhibition on friday and also heard the extremely interesting talk by the curator, Ruth Battersby Tooke but unfortunately I forgot to take my camera! (I'm hoping to go again but it's a two hour bus journey each way!!) It is an amazing and moving exhibition.

  4. That sampler looks amazing, thanks for including the blurb


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