Frayed: Textiles on the Edge is an exhibition which will be held at Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth from 10 October 2013 – 2 March 2014.

It explores historic and contemporary textiles, examining individual self expression and mental health issues through stitch.

At the heart of the show are some of our most fascinating and poignant objects: two embroidered ‘letters’, each over three metres long and entirely covered in text, made by Lorina Bulwer whilst an inmate in the lunatic wing of Great Yarmouth Workhouse between 1901-5, and the extraordinary counterpane and bed hangings made by Anna Margaretta Brereton, while in deep mourning.  She’d given birth to ten children between 1781 and 1796.  Four of her children died in infancy, and in 1800 her beloved eldest son John died of a fever aged 14.

This will be the first time that the Lorina Bulwer samplers have been displayed together – the second sampler is being loaned by the Thackray Museum, Leeds – and also the first time that the NMAS sampler has been displayed in its entirety.

Alongside these will be significant loans, including a textile piece by Tracey Emin and Elizabeth Parker’s sampler from the V&A collections which, like the Bulwer sampler, has been an inspiration for contemporary artists’ work.

The aim of the exhibition is to allow each object to speak for itself, with interpretation focussing on the biography of the maker and the context in which it was made. This is in keeping with the deeply personal resonance of many of the pieces on display, such as the Parker sampler which is known by the name of the individual who wrote and created it, rather than by the title of the work or the location of its creation.

The interpretation of the issues of mental health, grief and post-traumatic stress disorder will also be articulated using the works of contemporary artists, including Emin. This will enable these issues to be explored both in a historical context, and also will demonstrate that textile arts are still a means of personal testimony and therapy for people affected by mental illness and grief.

We hope that this exhibition will be of interest to artists, textile researchers and students from the Eastern Region and beyond as well as local adult and family audiences. In addition we will also be working with Youth Engagement Officers and local groups to use the exhibition as a catalyst for creative workshops to explore the issues raised.

This blog aims to document the process of bringing the exhibition together, as well as offering insights into some of the objects and artists we’ll be featuring.  Please follow us to find out more.

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  1. Pingback: Frayed – last chance to see. Great Yarmouth until 2nd March 2014 | Through Our Hands

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