Tuesday, 17 February 2009

V&A Day 1 - Part 3

Moving on from spot samplers to band samplers, tracing the evolution of sampler making. Here's Clare talking about two 17th Century band samplers in the V&A's collection. Band samplers we created using a loom-width of linen for the length with the selvedges making up the top and bottom of the piece. The width was much narrower, which allowed the embroiderer to trial repeating bands of pattern, text and other techniques such as cut-work. These samplers started to introduce an element of design, whereas with spot samplers I think of them as collages, stitched areas randomly placed on the fabric, with the embroiderer utilising every last piece of the cloth.

For me, band samplers are like musical scores. Indeed, when Jason first saw them he commented that the rows of patterns were like the visual representations of sound recordings you find in digital music software - rows of hi-hats, snare drums, basslines and vocals, when combined making up the complete composition.

The first of the two samplers is unnamed, and the second was created by Hannah Pittman. Both are fine examples of band samplers of that period and are not only fascinating in terms of the techniques used to create them, combining stitched bands of coloured threads, white-work, repeating patterns, text and cut-work, but also for the mystery of their makers' fates. Both pieces are unfinished, one with a piece of thread left hanging and Hannah Pittman's stitched text stops mid flow.

" the lamentation of a sinner
O lord turn not away thy face from him
that lies prostret lementing sor his sinfyl life
be for th...."

Did they get bored, or as Clare aludes to, did they die?

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