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These first two give aways are a tribute to a couple who have had a big impact on historic needlework for decades. Joy and Stephen Jarrett. Stephan passed away in April at aged 80 and Joy recently passed away in September at age 79. They founded Witney Antiques in 1963, and while they had a lovely stock of 17th century English furniture and clocks, they were really know world-wide for their incredible stock of 17th century embroidery and 17th-19th century samplers.
One of the things I loved about Joy and Stephen was there openness to the embroidery community. They inherently knew that we who embroidered appreciated these pieces as much as those who had the funds to collect and that, perhaps there were some who over time would move between those two sets. So they held 'exhibitions' yearly of embroideries on sale and some borrowed using themes in the pieces to gather and explain. For those of us who know that museum exhibitions of embroidery material are few and far between, Witney's annual exhibitions were a pilgrimage if you could get there to view them. A visit to their shop was a guarantee of viewing some 50-100 pieces of 17th century embroidery and samplers. Such a treat and they were always welcoming to those of us who had a bus load of embroiderers who wanted to see.
On top of that, they published a leaflet or book for each exhibition - a catalog of pieces which for those of us who need inspiration or study needlework, are almost bibles. Justin, their son, became a great photographer while working on the annual books. And their daughter, Rebecca, first a partner and now the owner of the shop and is carrying on their legacy, became highly interested in the history and has written notable books in the field.
I first met Joy and Stephen when traveling England to set up the Jacket Tour. They were enthusiastic to become a stop on the tour - and would be hosting their most amazing exhibition of 17th century embroidery yet. What a spectacular moment. But I was also interested in a piece they had on sale, a part of a jacket that I wanted to investigate. They were so willing to take it out of the frame and allow me to do research photography of it before it was sold. Taking me into the back to see other rare items relating to my research. My brother and I were there for a few hours and Stephen suggested that we walk down the street together and have dinner in the pub as we must be famished before our long drive to the next stop. What ensued was a meal over stories of his and Joy's grand travel adventures (they were very daring in their younger years) and much laughter. Gracious to the last.
It was on that trip that I first saw a piece of embroidery of silk purl work (hanging above Joy's head in the picture). Over the course of 10 years, I visited it and used to remark upon it every time. Joy was so happy when I finally realized that I just had to have it three years ago. She knew it was going to the one person who really knew what it was and appreciated it.
On my last visit to them before they passed away, Joy decided to give me a box full of her exhibition catalogs to use as gifts and prizes for embroiderers. As long as I paid the shipping, she stuffed the box full. Today and tomorrow I have the last of these lovely leaflets (first one below) to pass on to someone lucky. I hope that as you moon over the beautiful pictures you will think of how a couple went out of their way to embrace not only those who wanted to bejewel their walls with antiques but those who wanted to learn and admire from afar and how they enabled that for us all.
Thank you Joy and Stephen - your generosity and wit will be missed.
|Today's giveaway of a quarter-fold leaflet of samplers|