I like ULITA very much . It is housed in St Wilfred’s Church which is entered from the Business School next door . I haven’t been for a while and now the first thing you see is Alison Mitchell’s 1978 5 panelled tapestry hung in Bodington Hall until 2013 .
Apparently it was inspired by trips to Ghana & Mexico where she learned strip weaving .
The Indian embroidered textiles were no earlier than the 19th century , partly because textiles never last as long as works in other traditional media and partly because the collection consists of individual collections from various donors who were largely commercially interested . Which is why there are many samples for the export market . I haven’t got much detail on the pictures I took because there is as yet no leaflet available and I was assured that all the information would be on the website . I could not find all the examples there however .
I loved this – remembering what it felt like making a child’s clothes . The style is like that of Moghul court tunics I have seen at the V&A , including the suspended pocket on the left . On the right , at the bottom , is a carved wooden block used for printing an all over design on fabric as a guide for the embroiderer .
‘Suf’ counted thread embroidery apparently tends to patterns made up of triangles . This piece also has some small mirrors – ‘shisha’ . I don’t care for sewn on mirrors partly because they come off easily and are then dangerous .
On the left are cotton kamiz embroidered in white on muslin , the pastels with some shadow work . I have 2 similar but shorter & mine are Fairtrade whereas those pictured are from an Indian organization which started in the 1950s to do something similar . The other example is from a border sample of a Kashmiri shawl , probably silk on wool .
I can’t remember what this kind of pictorial embroidery is called – and it isn’t a very good picture with the windows reflected in the glass – but I like this imitating the Moghul painting style .
Chainstitch covers a lot of ground fairly quickly even by hand with a needle , more so with a tambour whose working I finally understand (or ‘ari’ – I don’t know in which language) . This was my favourite example there and is actually done by machine – I used to have a toy sewing machine that only did chainstitch .
I was thrilled to find these handbags in the metallic embroidery section (my favourite) because my mother used to have a black velvet one embroidered with silver which matched a sari belt she wore when younger . I know it was real silver because it tarnished .
Finally there was a section on Kashmiri shawls embroidered to look like the woven kind . They began to be commissioned by British merchants at the beginning of the 19th century in order to evade the import duties on the woven ones and subsequently became popular . Surely they must have required much more work ?
The exhibition is on until the 9th of July ; open Tues-Thurs 9.30-4.30 , Fridays by appointment (ring 0113 343 3919)