Text and textiles are inextricably linked. The word text comes from the Latin ‘woven’. The history of textiles has added richness to our language, but also misunderstandings.The collective noun “linens” is used to describe bed, bath, table and kitchen textiles traditionally made of linen but now as likely to be made of cotton. Another misunderstanding exists around the term tapestry.
Tapestry is a weft faced woven cloth, where the image and the structure are one and the same. Confusingly the term is also used to describe a decorative wall piece embroidered on a pre-woven ground, such as the Bayeux Tapestry. I hope in this issue to highlight the difference between these two techniques by examining some fine examples of both.
First of all, tapestry: we look at its origins in the Gobelins workshop in Paris, its dissemination to the merchant classes in the town of Aubusson, and finally a contemporary interpretation in the work of Fiona Rutherford. Turning to embroidery we see fine examples of the English tradition; how it was interpreted in the New World and a contemporary reinvention at the hands of an embroiderer and her Irish machine seen in collections of Erdem, Alexander McQueen and Mary Katrantzou. This as well as hand stitched designs by casey and casey, beautifully photographed by Marie Taillefer.
Rhonda Sonnerberg, one of our contributors, commented recently that T.S. Eliot erred when he wrote that “April is the cruellest month” – it is January, when the glow and merriment of the holidays is past and gardens seem barren. Hopefully she’ll spot the abundance of flowers in this issue, hand crafted by Maison Legeron, photographed by Vee Speers and scattered around the home of Jeanette Philipse. They bring Valentine’s Day to mind and hint that spring is just around the corner...
Polly Leonard, Founder & Editor of Selvedge Magazine
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