Anonymous was an Embroiderer

Susan Wood

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Although shunned by the field of art history, the anonymous craft object, if it is beautiful enough and deemed important enough, may still find a home in the museum, contributing to our understanding of the diversity of human material culture. But what if all that remains of the work of a vibrant community of makers aren't the objects themselves but colour slides, barely labelled or entirely anonymous? This has been the fate of the field of practice known in nineteen seventies New South Wales as creative embroidery. Although creative embroiderers aspired to the status of artists and, indeed, some had undergone art school formal training, they operated outside of the mainstream art world using a medium associated with domesticity rather than 'serious' art. Creative embroidery attracted considerable public interest at the time. In addition to regular exhibitions, it was the subject of newspaper and magazine articles and even television programs (Wood, 2006). Nevertheless, the artefacts produced within this context did not achieve sufficient status at the time of their making to be collected and preserved within public institutions in significant quantities. The invisibility of their work means the contribution made by creative embroiderers to culture in their communities has been almost entirely forgotten.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalFusion Journal
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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