How many hands does it take to create a kantha tapestry like this? In this instance, it was the work of eight women embroidering every day for one year. Threading not only a story of traditional motifs, but also the international recognition of an ancient craft and women’s socio-economic emancipation in Bangladesh and West Bengal.
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What were you to do if you were a woman living in a country town during the 1920s and dreamed of wearing the latest fashions from Paris? This dressmaking kit, which came to the donor from a house in Warwick, Queensland, speaks of the wide influence of Paris fashions and the audacious ‘lady overlanders’ who traversed the country showing samples and taking orders for the Swiss embroidery business, Sonderegger & Co.
The detail above is from a cross stitch sampler in our collection titled ‘'The Emigrants Farewell and The Emigrants Prayer'. Stitched along the top of the piece in very faded red thread (which does not really show in the image below) are the words “This work presented by Maria Tilley to her son John in Australia July 28th 1854" The date is significant because the 1850s were the time of the great gold rushes in eastern Australia.
This week is Bird Week which celebrates Australia's beautiful native birds. It seems the perfect excuse to feature this charming table mat from the Ian Rumsey Australian Textiles Collection. The motif is one of Australia's best known and easily seen birds, the Laughing Kookaburra.