Commemorative and commissioned textiles

Commemorative and commissioned textiles

'A Grain of Truth' is a textile installation by Aram Han Sifuentes, who was inspired by the traditional Asian mythology of the Rice Goddess or Rice Mother. There are many versions of the tale, but basically it tells how a mother is killed and the first rice grows from her body. Due to the sacrifice of her body, rice feeds over half of the total world population today.

In 1675, the Spanish king, Charles II (1661-1700), presented the Dutch Admiral, Michiel Adriaansz. de Ruyter (1607-1676), with a ducal crown. The crown itself has been lost, but the tall, woollen hat that went inside the crown has been preserved, and is now housed in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

The Aids Memorial Quilt is a long-term project to make a vast commemorative quilt for Americans who died of HIV/aids. The Project was launched in 1987 by gay rights activists in San Francisco, California, when the disease’s stigma resulted in some American funeral parlours refusing to accept the bodies of aids victims.

In 2015/6 various embroidery groups across the United Kingdom came together to create a commemorative embroidery dedicated to the so-called Massacre of Hardhome. It was commissioned by HBO Home Entertainment TV Network in order to celebrate the launch of the Game of Thrones Series 5 (Blue Ray and dvd box set).

The Battle of Maldon was fought in 991 near Maldon, Essex, England, between Earl Byrhtnoth and his Anglo-Saxon forces, and an invading army of Danes. The Anglo-Saxon king at the time was King Æthelred the Unready. When the Anglo-Saxons were defeated, they were forced to pay a high sum to the Scandinavians, heralding a long period of regular payments to the Danes.

The Bayeux Tapestry is a commemorative embroidery that depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England in 1066 by William the Conqueror (1028-1087). The tapestry is now exhibited at the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux, France. The earliest known written reference is in a 1476 inventory of Bayeux Cathedral, France.

In 2014 it was announced that a new commemorative embroidery had been designed by the Westcountry (UK) artist, Tom Mor (who also designed the Plymouth tapestry and the New World tapestry). The Bristol Berkeley Plantation tapestry is a single panel with various scenes that illustrate the establishment of the Berkeley Hundred Plantation in Virginia, USA.

The 7th May 2015 was the date of General Elections in Great Britain. Tom Katsumi (1980) embroidered a map of the British Isles five days before the elections and then filled in the squares as the election results were being announced. The map was worked on white aida using cotton perlé in seven different colours, one each for the main political parties (blue = Conservative, red = Labour, etc).

Cissie Wilcox’s embroidered panel is a small, embroidered panel made by a suffragette prisoner called Cissie Wilcox while she was in Holloway Jail in 1911. The white silk panel is 14.0 x 8.5 cm in size and embroidered in the suffragette colours of green and purple.

A commemorative embroidery is especially made to mark a personal, family or institutional event or situation. Commemorative embroideries can take the form of a single panel, such as a commemorative sampler, small memorial cards, or large-scale panels that may be many metres long.

A commemorative quilt is especially made to mark a personal, family or institutional event or situation. These quilts may be made by individuals or groups. Some commemorative quilts are purely decorative, others have names, dates and/or inscriptions.

A commemorative sampler is a type used to commemorate one or more birthdays, weddings, funerals or special events within a family or community. This type of sampler was popular in Northern Europe and elsewhere from the seventeenth century onwards and is still being produced.

The Creation Altar Piece is a South African stitched and beadwork embroidery, inspired by the altar piece 'The Lamb of God' (Het Lam Gods), painted by the Flemish artists, Hubert and Jan Van Eyck (Gent, Belgium, early fifteenth century). The Creation Altar Piece was made by the Hamburg Women’s Co-operative (Hamburg is a rural area of the Eastern Cape, South Africa) under the auspices of the Keiskamma Trust.

Decorative postcards with a short text were popular in Europe from the early 1900's until the 1950's. Many of these were made in France. The cards include a wide variety of designs and messages worked in floss silk in various colours. Some ten million embroidered cards were produced. Woven silk postcards (especially by the Nayret Frères, St. Etienne, France) were also being made, but these were not as popular.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam houses an example of a so-called feestrok. These 'celebratory skirts' were made as part of a large-scale programme to celebrate the liberation of The Netherlands from German occupation in 1945. They were forms of patchwork. A comparable feestrok is held by the Textile Research Centre in Leiden (TRC 2011.0001). For further information on this programme, see here

In the main public hall of Münster's city hall (Rathaus), Germany, there is a replica of a banner that was made to celebrate the Peace of Westphalia, which helped to officially bring to an end the Thirty Years' War in 1648. The original banner is 250 x 250 cm in size and has a mid-blue silk ground.

In the main public hall of Münster's Rathaus (town hall), Germanythere is a large wall hanging representing peace. Although it is not actually a quilt it is closely related to the tradition of Friendship Quilts from the USA. The hanging was made in 1998 to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the Peace of Westphalia and as a direct reference to the Friedensfahne from 1648 that was made to celebrate the same event.

Some thirty volunteers have completed a massive embroidered tapestry of some 90 metres long to commemorate the Battle of Winterfell, the Battle at King's Landing and the Red Wediing. All are episodes from the hitseries Game of Thrones.

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