“New Exhibition on Embroidery to Open at Southold Historical Society”
SOUTHOLD, NY. The Southold Historical Society is pleased to announce that it will open its summer exhibition, A Quarter Century of Embroidery, on Saturday, July 2, 2011. The exhibition, which will feature several dozen examples of the art, is being held in cooperation with the Peconic Bay Chapter of the Embroiderers’ Guild of America.
“We are very pleased to be collaborating with another community based organization to create an interesting and educational exhibition for the public,” stated Geoffrey K. Fleming, the Director of the Society. The exhibition will be held in the Mayne Memorial Gallery, located in the Ann Currie-Bell house at the Society’s Museum Complex on the corner of Main Road and Maple Lane in Southold.
The Peconic Bay Chapter of the Embroiderers’ Guild was formed in March 1985 with twenty-six members and received its charter from the Metropolitan Region on June 12, by which time membership had increased to thirty-six members. Some of the founding members had been members of EGA chapters elsewhere and all were expert needlewomen. In 2000 a sister relationship was established with the newly formed Branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild, U.K. in Beccles, Suffolk County, England. Beccles is just north of Southwold, the home of the first settlers of Southold.
Although the origins of embroidery, the art of handcraft of decorating fabric with needle and thread or yarn, are unknown, early examples survive from ancient Egypt, Iron Age Northern Europe, and Zhou dynasty, China. Basic stitches of the earliest work were chain, buttonhole or blanket, running, satin, and cross stitches and remain so today. Examples of Chinese chain stitch using silk thread have been dated to the Warring States period (5th – 3rd C, BC) and in a garment from the Migration period in Sweden (300-700 CE) using running, back, stem, tailor’s buttonhole stitches, and whipstitching.
In the Medieval Islam world embroidery was known as the “craft of the two hands” and became a symbol of high social status and a hugely popular art. Egyptian mummies were wrapped in garments embroidered in gold. Wrappings for kings and noblemen were embellished with designs made with threads of linen and wool, the hair of goats and camel and fine strips of gold and silver. According to the Bible Moses covered the “Holy of Holies” with a veil of fine linen and Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem was adorned with an embroidered curtain.
“Embroidery” is a Middle English word derived from the old French “broder” meaning edge or border. Embroidering provided employment for educated women who had no other means of support. The types of objects that can be embroidered are almost limitless, and are restricted only by the abilities and imagination of the person actually doing the work. The exhibition at the Society will feature a variety of objects, including quilts, stockings, scarfs, pillows, clothing, and samplers.
“One of the greatest aspects of embroidery is not only the design and methods used, but also the great variety of color and shades represented in the threads and fabrics exploited in their creation,” stated Fleming. “I expect this exhibition to be one of the most colorful we have seen in years,” he continued.
The Exhibition will be open from 1-4 pm on Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays beginning July 2nd and will remain open to the public through the end of August. For further information, please call (631) 765-5500 or visit the Society’s website at www.southoldhistoricalsociety.org.