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Students Lend Embroidery Skills for Museum’s Interactive Artwork

A group of talented students has just finished work on a mesmerising piece of textile artwork ready for exhibition at Brontë Parsonage Museum and in time for World Embroidery Day on 30 July.

Textile artist and author Hannah Lamb – who is also the Programme Leader for the Textiles Practice Foundation Degree at Bradford School of Art -asked her students to help with the intricate needlework required for the unusual art commission.

Hannah said:
“I was approached by the Bronte Parsonage Museum in my role as an artist to create an interactive artwork to accompany the current exhibition, ‘Defying Expectations: Inside Charlotte Brontë’s Wardrobe.’ The artwork will sit alongside this show in the Servant’s Room at the Parsonage.

“Because of the scale of the project I devised, I realised I couldn’t handle the volume of embroidery needed, so decided to see if any of my students would be prepared to help. I am both a part-time lecturer at Bradford College and a professional artist, so this project has beautifully married both of my roles!”

The project called ‘Fragment of a Dress’ involved visitors to the Museum writing a few words about an item of clothing that is significant to them. The responses ranged from commenting on everyday items that were comforting and uplifting to poignant personal stories of loss, healing, and connection.

Over two weeks, students carefully rendered the handwritten stories in embroidery, building up the words stitch by stitch. Each piece has been worked on transparent silk organza and put together in the style of a dress that Charlotte Brontë might have recognised.

The Foundation Degree in Textiles Practice at Bradford College develops technical skills in mixed media, stitch and constructed textiles, as well as focussing on researching ideas and developing original designs. The unique part-time course is designed for those from non-traditional learning routes and learners who need to organise study flexibly around other commitments.

Hannah continued:

“I was bowled over to find that lots of my students were super keen to get involved. I think it’s given them a real insight into how professional artists work, and they have all been excited to have a hand in making the finished piece. This has been such a lovely, positive collaboration.”

Sassy Holmes, Programme Officer at Brontë Parsonage Museum, said:


“Hannah has created a nostalgic and moving piece of art, that tells the story of how important clothes are to us. ‘Fragment of a Dress’ has so many layers (much like when we dress ourselves!). Her installation is a combination of many people’s memories through their wardrobe. It is also the coming together of talented embroiderers at the Bradford School of Art. The sharing and collaboration in the making of the installation is just as beautiful as Hannah’s finished work, and we can’t wait for visitors to come and see.”

‘Fragment of a Dress’ will be on show at the Brontë Parsonage Museum until the 31 December 2022 alongside the current exhibition, ‘Defying Expectations: Inside Charlotte Brontë’s Wardrobe.’ The show features more than twenty pieces of Charlotte Brontë’s clothing and accessories and offers an intimate insight into both her domestic and literary lives.

The Parsonage is home to a vibrant contemporary arts programme featuring major artists and writers, supported by Arts Council England.

Published: 8th August 2022
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