Tuesday, 3 January 2017

The Steeple Aston Cope, 1330-1340
My first exhibition of 2017 was going to be American Expressionism at the RA but it was the last day and when I saw the queue to get in, I couldn't face it. So I hopped on a bus to the V&A where the lovely Opus Anglicanum exhibition turned out to be just the right ending to Christmas. And hardly anybody there. I'm sure that 700 years ago I'd have been a smelly peasant at the back of the church and I'd never have got a close-up view of the bishop's embroideries.

Whalley Abbey vestments
I loved this detail of the Virgin Mary toddling through a meadow of flowers on a baby-walker ...

Panel from a burse, 1335-1345
And St Margaret wrestling with the dragon as if he's done something nasty on her clean doorstep. 
The Fishmongers' Pall, 1512 - around 1538
I'm quite taken by the idea of fishmongers being buried with mermaids instead of ham. This is a small exhibition, just the right size if you're peering at detail. I'm no needlewoman - I can barely thread a needle - and I came away with no more idea of split stitch than when I went in. But it was strangely moving to gaze at the lantern commemorating the names of all those highly-skilled workers, needlemen (if there's such a word) as well as women, long-dead Williams and Alices whose work has survived through so many centuries. Well worth a visit. 


Veronica Cooke said...


Mary said...

Yes, it was lovely, Veronica - and astonishing that colours had so survived so well.

Cosy Books said...

That's a fabulous exhibit, Mary. Did they have a magnifying glass handy so you could have a good look at the stitches? Usually the lights are so dim around ancient fabrics it's another obstacle for those of us over a certain age.
p.s. - you had ME in stitches with your comment about the dragon!