Textiles, travel and Teaching
 
There are times when I'm unable to work on my major Project, "The Bayeux Tapestry to Quilt" (to be honest, lots of time)
But I have a lot of extra curricular work with this project so I can take work with me on the road.
I have reference books on my Ipad and I've just taken delivery of 3 new books.

The Handfasted Wife, The story of Edith Swanneck  beloved with of Harold Godwinson - by Carol McGrath. 

The man behind the Bayeux Tapestry. Odo William the Conquerors Half-brother by Trevor Rowley.

The Bayeux Tapestry, New Approaches. Proceedings of a conference at the British Museum.

 The three books are very different, one is a novel and the other two are reference books.

I write in my books, I make notes and then add the notes to the computer. It annoys my husband... he doesn't cope with the scribbles in new books.

I've really only had time to look at the New Approaches book and I find it fascinating.

"The Tapestry seems to have been commissioned by someone who wanted to put both sides of the argument, who was concerned with validating the Norman Victory, yet still expressed some understanding of the English  position.

It is interesting that the chosen medium was embroidery rather than say, illumination wall painting or carving.

Edith Godwinson, widow of King Edward, sister of King Harold, friend of King William fulfils all the requirements and, in addition, had particular expertise in embroidery."




 
 
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From the outset the aim was to create a Finale that would look as though it could have been the original ending.  The Alderney Tapestry is stitched on the same type of linen as the original and with the same sort of wools in the same colours and follows the same style as the original with the history of the times depicted in the central panel and with upper and lower borders which sometimes show mythical animals similar to those found in the Bayeux Tapestry and sometimes show images which augment or comment on the images in the central panel.
HRH The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall putting their stitch in helped by Kate Russell and Moira Sleeman

There are, however, two Channel Island references, one of which is an anachronism that would definitely indicate that this could never have been the original work.  One of these is the inclusion in the upper border of Wace, the author of the Roman de Rou which tells the history of the Normans from the settlement of Normandy through to the reign of Henry II.  Its importance for historians is that it states that William sailed to England with 696 ships.  Wace says that he knows this, because his father, who was with William at the time, told him so.  This might just have been possible, but Wace was writing in the 1170s, and the Tapestry, it is believed, was created within 20 years of the Battle of Hastings.  His inclusion in this work is because he was born in Jersey.  The second Channel Island reference is shown in the lower border near the end where the animals representing Guernsey (donkey), Jersey (toad) and Alderney (puffin) are shown being encircled by the English lion’s tail to represent that this was how the Channel Islands became English possessions.

The work is now nearing completion and has included the stitching of nearly 400 people, islanders and visitors alike, from all the inhabited continents of the world.  They have ranged in age from 4 – 99.  Several people with vision problems have added their stitches, including one young woman who is totally blind.  In addition, the inspiration of Jan Messent, who granted permission for the adaptation of some images of her own creation to be used, the assistance of expertise from people in Oxford, arranged through Jane Bliss, and others locally who have assisted with carpentry skills and physical assistance when required has greatly aided the project.

The Alderney Bayeux Tapestry Finale project was conceived of as a community project from the outset.  Its purpose was to provide an unusual activity for Islanders and visitors to Alderney, an opportunity to bring new people into the Library and, especially, a vehicle for acquainting people, especially the children of Alderney, with the events that led to the Channel Islands becoming English possessions, though at the time it may have seemed more that England became a Norman and, therefore, Channel Islands possession.

http://www.alderneysociety.org/news.php


 
 
 
 
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These are some of  the hands I drew ready for applique yesterday.

The hands are larger According to the status of the image.

For instance the largest hand depicted in this illustration is the hand of King Edward as he received a contrite Harold who has just returned from France.

Harold approaches his sovereign in an attitude of self abasement its unknown whether out of shame over what happened in Normandy or out of merely conventional deference is far from clear.  (LM) The depiction of Harold with hunched stance and open hands is very dramatic and leaves the viewer  under the impression he is of lower standing.

 
 
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I'm a little uncomfortable about sharing this incident,  however, it is part of the story I'm working on right now so I figured I need to add it to my documentation.

The past few days I've been creating the two  altars hiding reliquary that are symbolized on the Bayeux Tapestry.


My son, Jamie, friend Carolyn and I were filming in the Cathedral some years ago, It is part of the documentary we hope to make.

Situated below the main church the crypt is  quite dark, lit only by a few lights behind the supporting pillars.

It was so dim that we had to stand for a short time to allow our eyes get used to the dark.

We noticed a tall dark, swarthy man standing over the altar with his hands outstretched
placed at the edges of the altar which is about 6 foot wide by four foot deep. It stands taller than bench height and is made of stone I think.
We stood quietly trying not to pry and afraid to move in case we disturbed his prayer. It seemed as if we were there for  a long time and we tried to remain invisible.

Suddenly, slowly moving from the altar he walked over to me and silently took my two hands in his.
He let me to the altar and gently placed my hands into the  hexagonal carved images on the top of the altar. I found it difficult, I'm not really tall enough to be able to comfortably stand there.
In a strong accent he said quietly behind me, "you are doing an amazing thing"


He pointed to the ceiling, "under this cross you will feel the strength of ........." I couldn't understand the words he said then. The others couldn't hear it either.
He  pointed to the ceiling.
He then left quietly and I was too stunned to ask any questions.

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The ceiling in the crypt.
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Jamie, after our filming venture.
I can never forget that encounter, I think if it often, I can't explain it but when someone asks me why I'm re-creating the Bayeux Tapestry.... the image of this encounter comes to mind.
 
 
...TOOK THE OATH TO DUKE WILLIAM - HERE DUKE HAROLD...

This is the most detailed - facially - of the figures depicting William in the Tapestry: and his seated figure is majestic and over-sized, similar to the scenes where a seated king Edward bulks larger than other mortals around him.

Note the pair of figures behind the duke's throne: is the one holding his fingers up to the others lips to stop him from "spilling the beans?" The story that Harold was tricked into promising William support in his claim to the English throne was attested by Harold himself, according to later Norman accounts (even the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle - "C" - admits that "William from Normandy (was) king Edward's kinsman," thus implying that he had a recognized claim). What made it worse for him was the hidden relics under the draperies of the alters. Perhaps the English artisans alluded to this Norman sneakiness by hinting that the two observers behind William knew what was going on.

By first becoming William's vassal, Harold bound himself to support his lord in all his legal rights. Then came the oaths, sworn upon the host - under Harold's left hand - and also upon (hidden) holy relics, to help William forward his claim upon the English crown. The pact was to be sealed by marriages: Harold to one of William's daughters, and his sister to one of William's nobles.

Once these oaths had been made, Harold was free to return home.

In the past weeks, I've broken down the amount of week I do in one  day. Today I'm just creating the alter and Harold.
It takes about 4 hours to get it from drawing to fabric.
Frustratingly I had to stop and re-glue some of the fusible web back together.

I normally do that the day prior to using it to allow the glue to dry sufficiently.



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I took this photo in Bayeux Cathedral. The images from the Tapestry are placed high on the wall of the choir.
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I try to check the body positions of some of the images... it helps in translating the body language.
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The Choir in Bayeux Cathedral.
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The spire of Bayeux Cathedral.
 
 
One of the unique things about working on a project such as this is that "it's been done before"

I'll clarify that by saying that I don't think anyone has made a Bayeux Quilt in its entirety before... but maybe there is one out there somewhere.

I have over 20 books on the Tapestry. I've read all of them, some in more detail than others and  I always have one in my bag or on the I pad..

The books are a valuable resource and at first I learned of the history of the Bayeux Tapestry. It takes some time to get familiar with all the players.

At this stage I'm able to understand the visual dialogue of the images because of the information afforded me in the books.

I can follow the story of each character as the story unfolds.

Today's image is interesting and of course it makes it more intriguing after I have researched it.
We are presented with a group of Norman soldiers who are escorting the prisoner Harold Godwinson. He and his men are treated as guests in a way, but he knows he can't escape from his hospitable capturers. There is no question that he could return to England. William, has rescued Earl Harold from Guy Ponthieu.
I imagine that Harold is wondering just what William has in store for him.

There is trouble afoot.

Duke Conan of Brittany has declared his intention to attack Rivalon of Dol a Breton allies William.



Eve the warrior, William will intervene and take Earl Harold with him, another honorable warrior. No matter who he was fighting for Earl Harold has his pride at stake and in reality he was unable to refuse the offer.

Was William intending to show Earl Harold his superior fighting prowess? 

Today,  I had to create 3 soldiers preparing to go to war. This is the first time in the Tapestry that soldiers in battle clothes appear.

My dilemma was how I was going to represent the scene soldier with the dramatic attire.

I decided to print an image from the tapestry (on to fabric) and then free motion quilt it.
The video diary explains the technique.

The video




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The image printed on muslin or known as calico in Australia and Britain.
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The finished piece cut out and placed on the applique scene.
 

Pam Holland Designs and Productions.