Developing ideas for an assessment piece.
During this module I have become increasingly interested in the development of richly embroidered vestments, beginning with the 14 century and the Opus Anglicanum, and now I've moved on to the 16th century and have been thoroughly enjoying reading some historical novels by Phillipa Gregory, and Alison Weir who are both masters of detail.
As a result of this I've developed a keen interest in Mary 1, especially after watching the 1998 film Elizabeth, where Kathy Burke plays Mary.
I was fascinated by the contrast of her fine clothing against the pallor of her skin and the real signs of the strain she was experiencing in her personal and professional duties, particularly after she married prince Phillip of Spain at 37. She was many years his senior and in his eyes it was a purely political marriage, but for Mary it was a case of unrequited love.
I have decided to construct a model of Mary, using Ray Slater's book Clothdolls for Textile Artists as a guide. I think this type of construction will lend itself quite well to the contrast of beautiful embroidered cloth against an aged, sad and dissolutioned person inside.
I have started my research with a very fortuitous visit to St.Fagans National History Museum of Wales. I was lucky enough to be there during a recent exhibition of 15th and 16th century artefacts, one of which was this beautifully preserved Elizabethan hawking glove.
On my first visit to the exhibition it was very late in the afternoon so I didn't have time to sketch or even take a photo, so I tried to remember as many details as I could and sketched it later, but as you'll see the memory plays tricks on you and although I had quite nice small details, I had completely forgotten how the gloves were made. I was just totally absorbed with the wonderful embroidery.
Luckily I got the opportunity to visit the museum again and my husband took some photos for me and this time I had about half an hour to take down more details.
These are details of the cuff.
My second bit of luck was an unscheduled visit to Montacute House which is a wonderful 16th century Manor House owned by the National Trust and it has an amazing collection of Tudor and Elizabethan portraits from the National Portrait Gallery collection.
I had a lovely afternoon studying three portraits that, although not directly fitting to Mary's dates are close enough to be very useful in the construction of her costume. Unfortunately she seemed to be one of the missing Tudor family members in the collection.
The first portrait I studied was of Mary Throckmorton Lady Scudamore, dated 1615 and painted to celebrate her son's marriage.
I tried to follow the pattern of her lace cuff but it was too difficult in situ as there were lots of visitors all wanting to get a good look at the portraits. Luckily I'd managed to get just enough information to work it up later. I hope I might be able to make use of the digital aspect of my Bernina and make some small scale lace for the model.
Next I turned my attention to Katharine Parre and studied the braid on her dress and I particularly like the the little bead arrangements that appeared to hold the pleats in the sleeves together, something I would never have seen from a post card. The background printing on her dress was very interesting too and would work well on a small scale.
Lastly, and running out of time, the guides were giving me long suffering looks by this time, no doubt wishing me gone so they could close up early, I studied this painting of Elilizabeth 1. I only sketched the lace, RS corner, as I thought the rest of gown would be far too elaborate for Mary.
I discovered during this journey through my research so far that I'm so much happier with something concrete to hang my ideas for a piece on. The whole historical aspect has really regenerated my sense of direction, so much so that I'm very much looking forward to working on this piece.
In part 2 I'll be looking at ways of constructing the model and trying out some embroidery ideas for the costume. I also need to source a Tudor pattern which I think I will make to quarter scale.