Women's work or creative work? Embroidery in New South Wales high schools

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Embroidery is traditionally regarded as women's work and the teaching of embroidery as a means of preparing young women for domesticity, a view which has been reinforced by historians studying changes in the high school art curriculum that occurred with the introduction of the Wyndham Scheme in New South Wales in the early 1960s. This paper argues that those involved in promoting and teaching embroidery in NSW high schools at that time had a different agenda. They wanted embroidery to be seen as a legitimate form of creative work. The paper considers the relationship that developed in the 1960s between the Embroiderers' Guild of NSW and the NSW Department of Education. This relationship resulted in a series of ventures intended to promote embroidery as creative, artistic expression rather than as domestic work. The paper argues that, in this context, embroidery was a vehicle for women's agency and self-determination.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)779-789
Number of pages11
JournalHistory of Education
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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