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Textile Takeover at Norwich Castle

Have-a-go Sweetheart Pincushion made at Norwich Castle Museum.

Textile Takeover at Norwich Castle Museum.

Each year for one weekend, the Costume and Textile Department at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery take over the castle for their textile event. Held this year in March and entitled ‘Textile Takeover: Dress to Impress’ it showed various items connected on a political and protest theme including a quilt made by women prisoners under the watchful eye of Elizabeth Fry as well as some of her own clothing. Other items on display included the medal Norfolk suffragette Caprina Fahey, various protest tee-shirts and a ‘quilt’ made from protest badges. There was also a chance to see the work of the Norwich Embroidery Guild, Norwich Lacemakers and the Costume and Textile Society who all gave visitors a hands-on chance to have a go at various crafts including making protest badges, stitching a panel for a protest quilt and making a sweetheart pincushion using pins, beads and embroidery on prestitched hearts.

There were also two very interesting talks, in the afternoon Joy Evitt gave her talk on ‘Women in WW1’ which explored how women’s fashions changed as they took on more roles during the war. I went to the morning talk which was given by textile curator Ruth Battersby Tooke. Her subject was the Lorina Bulwer ‘Samplers’ and we were able to see two of them out on display as well as two more small pictorial panels. The samplers were stitched by Lorina when she was in the lunatic wing of the Great Yarmouth Workhouse during the time 1901-5 and take the form of long written letters each over three metres long and covered in text, mostly in capitals, which are stitched on a double layer of patchwork panels. As always, Ruth was very enthusiastic about her subject and gave an extremely interesting talk covering Lorina’s life and talking about many of the people that were included in the ‘rant’ on her samplers. You can view Lorina’s samplers by contacting the museum which has  a wide variety of textiles including quilts and clothing which can all be seen by appointment.

To find out more about Lorina including transcripts of the samplers follow the links on this the curator’s blog for an exhibition held in 2013/14. It has lots of information it’s just a bit hidden - keep following all the different pages and links to discover it all.

Also quick access to details here

Update - there is another chance to see Lorina’s pieces and hear Ruth’s talk on Saturday 28th April at 2.30pm at Norwich Castle Museum.    

Liz Nally