One of last week's problems involved the future of my degree. As of next weekend Opus will no longer exist. A new school, The Julia Caprara School of Textile Art is being established and all current degree students with Opus are being asked to transfer. As with any major change, there have been many queries and questions, not all of which have been answered, which has resulted in a great deal of uncertainty. To say that I felt unsettled was an understatement. I have thoroughly enjoyed the degree course so far. The content has been both interesting and stimulating, the level of tuition has been outstanding and I have started to gain a confidence and direction in my work that has been lacking in the past. So to think that it might not continue was disconcerting. But amid all this, the new module also started last week. I'm studying Embroidery in its Social Context, which will involve lots of research and finally a 3000 word essay. So I thought the best way to deal with all the changes was to get stuck in with the research and yesterday I took myself off to the V & A for some serious studying.
It has always been one of my favourite museums but I hadn't realised the wonder of its textile collection before. In the textile study room you can take out tray after tray of old textiles, to study at leisure, to draw and photograph and to stare in amazement at the beauty of some of the pieces. This is a sampler that dates back to 1598, the earliest sampler in the V & A collection. The detail and the stitching are exquisite. I wonder what Lucy Bostocke who stitched this would have thought if she knew that over 400 years later people were studying her work in a museum!
The piece below is a blackwork coif (cap) stitched around 1600. Again the stitching is tiny and perfect. I can't imagine the hours of work that must have gone into completing this.
This is another coif dating back to about 1600 but this time in whitework. More exquisite stitching and in amazing condition.
And below is a stomacher dating back to the early 18th century. It is worked in coloured silks in long and short stitch, satin stitch, stem stitch and back stitch on a background of linen.
I sketched and photographed so much more but still only looked at a tiny part of the collection. I could quite happily immerse myself there for weeks. Do you think they would let me move in?
I experienced a landmark moment on the way there. I got on the crowded underground train at Kings Cross and a young man offered me his seat - one of those designated for the disabled or elderly! Initially I declined but he insisted so I smiled and graciously accepted. That was a first... perhaps the grey hair isn't such a great idea after all!