A Truth Embedded In Thread

Textiles: Embroidering The Truth  was the 31st Textile Society Conference held at the Rex Makin Lecture Theatre, County Sessions Hall in the former city of culture – Liverpool. From the 18th century onwards the city developed its role as ‘the gateway to the empire’ an important port for the transport of cargoes across the Atlantic.

Perhaps it seemed only fitting that the speakers for the conference came together from across the country from Bristol, London, Manchester and Liverpool to bring an eclectic discourse on textiles.

Textiles can be revealing and bring forth the truth of its subject matter.

To explore the truth of embroidery, the first day of the conference began with visits to Liverpool Anglican Cathedral and Liverpool Archives to view ecclesiastical textiles.

Dr Gale Owen-Crocker, Professor of Anglo-Saxon Culture at the University of Manchester, exposed the costume details of the ‘Fools in the Bayeux Tapestry‘ stitched so carefully during the 11th century.

The second day of the conference exposed the truth of the maker. Pauline Rushton, Curator Liverpool Museums, presented a journey of how a 19th century altar frontal would unravel its connections to the studios of Charles Eamer Kempe.

The hand of an embroiderer can reveal many truths about the origins and compositions of a piece. Tabitha Moses and Janet Haigh presented a notion that perhaps over time the subconscious of the maker is reflected in the threads that formed the embroidery that is presented.

The conference closed with a visit to the Williamson Art Gallery, the keepers of the company archive of Arthur H. Lee & Sons, established in the mid-1880s in Bolton.

The truth can only be revealed if the embroidery survives and has been preserved to tell its story, which is sewn into the canvas we see. The maker has since past and leaves only a fragment of understanding behind.

The Textile Society is a charity which promotes the history, culture and study of textiles established in 1982.

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