Stumpwork at Chirk Castle

In my quest for historical textiles and interpretation of place, I discovered the only 3 textile pieces from the castle archives.

The piece I was most struck by was an accomplished piece of ‘stumpwork’, dating back to the 17C. It is a mystery to what the 'F' and 'E' initials symbolise (at the top of the piece), perhaps authorship of the embroiderer. It later transpired that the identity or presence of women within the Castle, at this time, is in fact invisible in any records and archives. The family tree would reference the men; the missing presence of the female is a lost family ephemera. The narrative of the piece is perhaps typical of this period; depicting scenes of grandeur - a recognition of status and wealth. This scene could suggest a depiction of the local environment; with architectural reference to a chapel or a church and landscape, with, what is believed, 'Vanity' and 'Music', as the central characters to the embroidery. I see connections between my investigation of place and reflections of time, the sound of time that resonates within the castle. The walls become the fabric of time, absorbing memories of the past.

The permeable boundary between earth and the heavens as a dividing line in connection to Offa's Dyke: a path, a journey of time. I am drawn to the manipulation of scale and the perception that the piece is two dimensional, yet on close inspection the embroidery is a raised/sculpted piece. These thoughts are beginning to take shape within my own work and interpretation of place. In the sense that illusion and perception are key elements that are being explored.

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