Friday, 28 May 2010
As part of my tour in Scotland at Easter, I was able to pop in to Traquair House. But not through the Bear Gates which since 1744 have been firmly closed until the day when a Stuart monarch will reign again - which may be not be that far off, since the princes William and Harry, through their Spencer descent claim Stuart heritage. It is fitting that Mary Queen of Scots (with her baby James, later to become King James VI of Scotland and I of England) walked the halls of this lovely place amidst the treasure trove of embroideries - petit point slips which, later as a prisoner, she herself would while away the time stitching while dreaming and scheming. Some of the pieces resemble entire herbals, so densely are they populated with every imaginable flower and fruit, all cheek by jowl, some their outlines interlocking, so that one can only wonder if they were ever meant to be separated and applied individually as embellishments to furnishings as Margaret Swain tells us they were. And if they were meant to be separated, then why weren't they? Or could they have been compulsive encyclopaedic works? Some are unfinished, showing clearly that they were pre-prepared with outlines in black cross-stitch. Is it possible that some early band samplers were similarly pre-prepared? There is still so much yet to learn and it is only by looking at the stitches with a close and attentive eye that these pieces may reveal more of their story. I have a lovely sheet of wrapping paper and Margaret Swain's little book on the The Needlework at Traquair to give to anyone interested in these works who cannot visit personally. Please let me know how I should do this to be as fair as possible.
Posted by N E E D L E P R I N T at 23:52