Saturday, October 28, 2023

Witney Exhibition and Book (Preorders)

I was able to get to the Witney Exhibition this week in the UK and I was blown away.  I have seen many of their exhibits before and was extremely overjoyed, but this one took my breath away.  I would have been a happy camper with the first two rooms I entered, but then I went into the largest in the back and the shear number of 17th century band and whitework samplers on the wall knocked me over (think dozens).  And that wasn't the highlight!  

The highlight was the Elizabeth Hall collection of a casket and the smalls which had been kept in the box for almost four hundred years.  I was lucky to be the only one in the gallery at the time and so I asked Rebecca if she would consider allowing me to film her talking about the collection and the family.  This is the single most important casket and school girl collection to come to light since the Martha Edlin collection.  It not only includes her work, but the work of later family members and the samplers of friends that did works in the same school or were in her wedding, etc.  To see so many interlinked pieces was astounding.  And to know that the family shared all their letters mentioning the embroideries, allowing the maker of so many of these family pieces in the casket to be identified and dated as well. 

Rebecca was just too excited to tell me about the collection to say no to filming - so expect something on YouTube coming up after I get back to the states and can edit.  I have to admit that my eyes wandered here and there to a sampler or more on the wall and I might have cut her out of the frame here and there - but the visual candy and wonderful story is still there!  I can't believe I didn't shake more (from excitement).  

This exhibit and next year's one (yes she has MORE like this!!) is really Rebecca's baby and culmination of the work she has done for decades on needlework through the store and her books.  She is collaborating with Isabella Rosner to expand the research hours and knowledge that can be learned from the pieces and they have written an important book about the collection for the exhibit. 

Normally the catalogs are softcover, but Rebecca promised the family that the collection would be properly documented in one volume when they offered it to her for sale.  While we all hope a single collector or institution will have the vision to purchase the collection as a whole, it was significantly important to Rebecca and the family to publish it all in one well done volume, hence they spent the money to make it hardcover and use very large and detailed photos.  But this meant that there are only half the copies of the catalog as there would normally be.  This book will not last long on the market.  

Because of its importance to research and the knowledge base on embroidery and schoolgirls, Access Commodities has committed to bring a number of copies to the US in a large shipment.  We want to support what Rebecca Scott and Isabella Rosner have been doing so they can pour their capital and knowledge into next year's book as well - Volume II.  

I am taking preorders for the book.  It is heavy and so postage to get it here to the US has not been small.  But that is the nature of books these days.   I hope to have the first copies I order by late November and can start shipping them out.  I think you might want to give the link to a husband for a great Christmas order!

I was so excited that pieces were photographed in macro so we could really see what was going on in the work.

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