Image: Sampler, Elizabeth Parker, about 1830, England. Museum no. T.6-1956. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
In celebration of International Women’s Day, the V&A has announced Katerina Jebb/Elizabeth Parker, a new display showcasing a single large-scale photomontage by Katerina Jebb. Jebb’s artwork spotlights a rare 19th century embroidery sampler from the V&A collection, which narrates the incredible hardships of its young female creator, Elizabeth Parker, who was born in 1813. This installation, records and re-frames the sampler providing visitors with a larger-than-life representation of the work fitting of the magnitude of its words.
Image: Kylie Minogue for AnOther Magazine A/W06Photography by Katerina Jebb, Styling by Sofia de Romarate
Katerina Jebb has an arresting visual style and is most famous for photomontage and the digital scanning of bodies and objects of emotional significance.Through the unique process of digital scanning, which involves producing multiple high-resolution scans of the object before assembling them to create a photomontage, Elizabeth Parker’s sampler is transformed from a small personal artefact, just 86cm x 74cm, into a monumental 2m x 3m column. Jebb’s work acts as a visual testimony to Elizabeth Parker, and bears witness to the hardship of the young creator’s life. The high resolution of the image – as well as the size of the work – means that Parker’s stitched words are now accessible for visitors to read and contemplate like never before.
Image: Sampler, E. Pratt, 1886, England. Museum no. B.547-2016. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Given in memory of Valerie Orr
The original sampler – which will also be on show in the V&A’s fashion gallery during the display’s run – features a deeply personal account by Elizabeth Parker. It highlights the realities of life for many women in the 19th century, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and its words still strongly resonate today. Across 64 lines of cross-stitch, Parker tells the story of her life in service, abuse from her employer, mental turmoil and her thoughts of suicide. In telling her story through needlework, Parker subverts the medium of cross-stitch in a deeply transgressive act of resistance – taking the art form away from a feminine and obedient pursuit of leisure to an arresting platform used to make physical her unspeakable trauma, and to shout loud about her experiences of 'cruelty too horrible to mention'.