The Country Wife Mural 6

Here is a comment from Jeri Ames referring to post 5.       Thank you Jeri.

If you cannot resist the urge (smile!), have the time (smile!) and want to learn glove-making (smile!), a book to locate that probably is out-of-print is: “How to Make Gloves – Step-by-Step Instructions for Beginners”, by Eunice Close, published by Charles T. Branford Company, Boston, 1950.  Close also wrote “Lace Making”, published by John Gifford, London, 1970.

To continue;

In the centre foreground are two more children,  The little girl has her hair in pigtails and appears to have a lace trimmed petticoat under her checked fabric skirt.  The little boy has a hobbyhorse.  Right behind the children is a hand operated sewing machine.

Finally, here are the family pets.  Notice how effectively the contours of the Siamese cat’s body are indicated with two lines of running stitches down his back.  This, and straight stitch  are useful embroidery stitches. Both are easy and infinitely adaptable.

The family Dacshound is another vivid portrayal of an animal. I wonder why a this breed of dog is featured instead of a sheep dog for instance.  Both these pets are more ornamental than are the women in the mural.  The portrayal of a metal chair or, is it a dog bed, to the right of the dog is worth looking at carefully.

These two last photos are better quality as they focus on a much smaller area.  The details indicated in the background add to the depth and the interest.  They also gives perspective and realism.  One does not notice them unless one looks really carefully at each cameo included in this huge piece of embroidery.

Finally, here is the entire mural again so that you can see how the sections fit together.  The skills featured were those used by the members of the Women’s Institute who have been the custodians of the mural for the last 60 years.  It is now in need of essential restoration.  It is a cameo of country life in the 1940s and earlier which makes it a historical record in 2018 and for future generations.

The designer, Constance Howard, was a textile artist teaching at Goldsmith’s College. She and her students were asked to create a mural that would extol the traditional skills of women.  They created a 3 Dimensional panel sized 4.5 metres x 5 metres (15 feet x 16.5 feet) approximately. It was so large that it was made in sections which were assembled on site.  It is also chock full of items and details that deserve a closer look.

To repeat, my contention is that Constance Howard, by designing this mural, started the movement of creating large textiles that record the history of peoples, places and history.  She was definitely innovative in textile design and the use if items such as wire, bark, tin cans which were prevalent in the decades following the creation of this mural.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the Country Wife project in any way should contact Wendy Hickson at the National Needlework Archive, preferably by email: countrywife@live.co.uk

I hope that you have enjoyed this chapter on Embroideries that Record History.  If you know of a historical embroidery that could/should be included in this record, please contact me at

ann@annbernard,com

The photos need to be of good quality and there should be both technical and historical information for it to be interesting to readers.

 

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I hope that you have enjoyed this chapter on Embroideries that Record History.  If you know of one that could/should be included in this record, please contact me at

ann@annbernard.com

The photos need to be of good quality and there should be both technical and historical information for it to be interesting to readers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the front and centre are this little boy and girl with their toys which are a hobby horse and a doll.  Behind them is a sewing machine which looks to me to be a non electric model.

Each little section contains so much detail.  It must have been both fun and challenging to create it.

This lady is darning socks which has got to have been one of that era’s most time consuming activity for women.  By then, commercially made socks would have been at least ten years old and would have been mended many times.  Women knitted socks, gloves and pullovers all through the war years.  My grandmother and her sister knitted all day every day of the week making warm clothing for service men.  The number of sweaters they made ran into the hundreds.

The slim young girl has her hair in bunches

This lady is making bobbin lace.  She looks so calm but preoccupied which is realisti

 

The faces of the ladies are each so individual.  Age and personality are well portrayed.  This is in addition to the specific style of portraying faces that was developed by Constance Howard.  I would love to see a close up of one of them.

If you would like to be involved in this restoration project or make a financial contribution to the costs of the large undertaking, please contact Wendy Hickson at the National Needlework Archive.  She would prefer that you email her at countrywife@live.co.uk

These last cameos are of the cat and the dog.

They were both photographed individually and you can see the detail more clearly.  The eyes of the cat are so lifelike and I am impressed with the effect two lines of running stitch down her back.

I hope that you have enjoyed a photo tour of this iconic piece of textile art designed by Constance Howard.  She brought contemporary design to hand and to machine embroidery.  There have since been decades of innovative design and experimenting with new materials and threads.  I think that at this time, 60 years after this mural was created, that traditional and contemporary design coexist and we are able to enjoy both of them.

 

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