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Kemp Altar frontal in Liverpool archviesDetail: right figureDetail: left figureDetail: central figureDelphos dress by Fortuny in The Williamson

Textiles: Embroidering the Truth

Textile Society Annual Conference and AGM

1 Nov - 3 Nov 2013

Rex Makin Lecture Theatre
County Sessions House,(next to Walker Art Gallery) William Brown Street, Liverpool L3 8EL


The conference explored how detailed study of objects helps to develop a deeper understanding of the truth. ‘Study’ could be the careful examination of figures on the Bayeux Tapestry, close examination of techniques to identify a maker or the time to reflect on faces and personality whilst creating new embroidery pieces with portrait photographs. Makers, academics and curators showed how their different approaches had real benefits.

Dr Gale Owen-Crocker’s keynote talk on Fools in the Bayeux Tapestry set a great mood for the whole weekend and showed how there is always something new to see in even the most familiar of objects. We are not clear why the Bayeux tapestry was made, but historical record and political comment seem to have been important. Melanie Miller surveyed more recent politically inspired works, from suffragette banners to Arpilleras panels in Chile (made to record experiences during the Pinochet regime and smuggled out of the country) and showed how making can be a valid means of recording experience.

Janet Haigh and Tabitha Moses explored study from the maker’s point of view. Tabitha highlighted that, as makers, they are more comfortable making than talking about their work. Their work reveals truths about themselves that they are not always conscious of.

Karen Hearn, Pauline Rushton and Charles Metcalfe demonstrated how
curators search for the truth about the objects in their care may involve careful observation of the object, study of historical documents and consultation with family/colleagues.

Delegates also had the opportunity to make their own close observation in visits to view the Kempe altar frontal at Liverpool Museums, the ecclesiastical embroideries at Liverpool Anglican cathedral and the A.H. Lee archive.

The programme

Friday 1st November

10.00-12.00 Visit to Liverpool Anglican Cathedral: Viewing ecclesiastical textiles including pieces from the East Grinstead Archive. (Fully booked).

12-1 Lunch hour

1.30 - 2.30 Visit to Liverpool Archives: Viewing of late 19th century altar frontal designed in the studios of Charles Eamer Kempe, with talk by Pauline Rushton, curator, Liverpool museums (Fully booked).

2.45 - 3.15 Registration and tea/coffee: Rex Makin Lecture Theatre, County Sessions House, William Brown Street, Liverpool L3 8EL (near Walker Art Gallery).

3.15 - 4.15 Textile Society AGM: Rex Makin Lecture Theatre.

4.15 - 4.45 Dr. GALE OWEN-CROCKER (Professor of Anglo-Saxon Culture at The University of Manchester and Director of Manchester Centre for Anglo-Saxon Studies).
'Fools in the Bayeux Tapestry' examining evidence of costume details and features of individual images in the 11th century embroidery.

7.00 Society dinner at Gustos, Edward Pavilion, Albert Dock, Liverpool.

Saturday 2nd November

10.00-10.25 Registration and tea/coffee: Rex Makin Lecture Theatre, County Sessions House, William Brown Street, Liverpool L3 8EL (near Walker Art Gallery).

10.25 Welcome: Dr Brenda King, Chair of the Textile Society.

Chair: DR LYNN HULSE (Editor of Text, Trustee of the Brangwyn Gift at the William Morris Gallery, independent researcher)

10.30 PAULINE RUSHTON (Curator of Costume and Textiles National Museums Liverpool)
‪Designs for ecclesiastical textiles by the studios of Charles Eamer Kempe (1834-1907)‬.

11.00 KAREN HEARN (Honorary Professor Department of English Language & Literature University College London)
Wrought with Flowers and Leaves: Embroidery Depicted in late-16th and early-17th Century British Portraits.

11.30 CHARLES METCALFE (former Head of Fashion & Textiles at Liverpool Art School, Liverpool John Moores University)
Fortuny: embellishment, opulence and textiles as status.

12.00-12.20 Session Q&A with speakers

12.20-2.00 Lunch

Chair: DR BRENDA KING (Chair of the Textile Society and independent researcher)

2.00 DR. MELANIE MILLER (Senior Lecturer in Embroidery and Leader of the MA Textile Programme, Manchester Metropolitan University).
Telling Tales: embroidering the truth.

2.30 TABITHA MOSES (Liverpool based textile artist and winner of a Textile Society Award in 2011)
Reflection on textile practice: evidence and interpretations

3.00-3.30 Tea/coffee

3.30 JANET HAIGH (Bristol based Embroiderer and former Senior Lecturer in Textile Design, University of the West of England) Reflection on textile practice: evidence and interpretations

4.00-4.20 Session Q&A with speakers.

4.20 PLENARY SESSION chaired by Dr Brenda King.

Sunday 3rd November

Visit to the Williamson Art Gallery, Slately Road, Birkenhead, Merseyside.

10.30 Talk on the A.H. Lee archive with Colin Simpson, Principal Museums Officer, Wirral Museums Service, Williamson Art Gallery. (Pre-booked visit, limited availability).

12.00-1.00 Lunch hour (there is a café at the Williamson).