Needs Must

Over the past year, a significant source of inspiration has been the thing stitched out of necessity. By that, either limited materials or limited circumstance, with the impulse to tell one's story or participate in ritual/play. This is a Hallowe'en mask, as photographed in The National Museum of Ireland; Country Life, during our lovely trips to Pontoon, Co. Mayo.

From the same museum, a St. Patrick's Day commerative rosette, stuck more than stitched, in a combination of paper and found ribbon with fabric flowers.

A Cromer Town football supporter's shirt and cap (excuse the flash) from between the wars. As taken, of course, in the quietly extra-ordinary Cromer Museum on the Norfolk coast. I may send this onto Adidas, in the hope of a design epiphany.

The Imperial War Museum, particularly in it's section on the Home Front, holds some beautiful woven insignia. These images via their online collections. This Wiener-Volks-Werk-esque mark represents the three Roman numeral 'V's of XV Indian Corps during WWII.

And this formation badge for X Corps; the symbol may represent a number '10' on its side, I guess working oddly like the seminal i-D magazine logo. Slightly different context though.

Happened upon this in a Selvedge magazine article. It is held again in the IWM though not on display because of its fragility. An incredible embroidered sheet made during a two-year internment by Mrs Day Joyce, an auxiliary nurse in Stanley Prison Camp, Hong Kong in the 1940s. It holds over 1,100 signatures of other internees and a coded diary. It was undiscovered by the guards, hidden between the rugs of her camp bed. More of the story here.

This reminded me of a sampler, seen at the V&A a couple of years ago (this via their online collection), tucked on the wall at the end of the room holding textile swatches. It has a simple intensity. There are many more decoratively exciting samplers in the collection but none with the austerity and therefore the kinetic of this, the Ashburnham Sampler by Elizabeth Parker, c.1830. The Thomas Hardy-esque story tails off with 'what will become of my soul', in mid-sentence. Heart rending. Happily, it has recently been discovered that she survived into a good life, working as a schoolteacher and dying aged 76.

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