With Just Some Thread & A Cloth…


Panel from The Quaker Tapestry – image from The Quaker Tapestry website

I recently stumbled upon a work of textile art, The Quaker Tapestry, that struck me as worthy to share here—perhaps as inspiration or perhaps just to share so that it may be known by a wider audience. It is an example of how the passion of a single vision can result in something that impacts a greater community on a level beyond the imagination.


Panel from The Quaker Tapestry – image from The Quaker Tapestry website

What is The Quaker Tapestry?

As described by the keepers of the Tapestry: “Often compared with the Bayeux Tapestry, this masterpiece of storytelling is a celebration of life, people and events across the centuries. A myriad of stories are revealed from within the 77 captivating and colourful embroidery panels.” 


Panel from The Quaker Tapestry – image from The Quaker Tapestry website

More from the http://www.quaker-tapestry.co.uk website: 

“The Quaker Tapestry came into being as a result of a chance remark made by an eleven-year-old boy attending the children’s class of a small Quaker Meeting in the South West of England in 1981. His teacher, to whom the remark was made, was Anne Wynn-Wilson, an accomplished embroiderer. She had the vision of a number of large tapestry panels telling something of the Quaker story and beliefs. In 1982 she mounted an exhibition of work in progress and her ideas and determination aroused an enthusiastic response from many Friends. Designers came forward, embroidery groups were formed, and training workshops were arranged.

Enthusiasm for the project spread and more than 4,000 men, women and children in 15 countries ‘had a hand’ in the creation of the Quaker Tapestry. Completed in 1996, the result is 77 panels of narrative ‘crewel’ type embroidery on specially woven wool cloth. With each panel measuring 25″ (635mm) by 21″ (533mm) it is testament to the passion and shared sense of community of an amazing group of Friends.

The tapestry tells of Quaker events and insights and is a celebration of the significant contribution these quiet, non-conformists have made to the modern world. Stories from the forefront of the industrial revolution, developments in science and medicine, astronomy, the abolition of slavery, social reform, and ecology are all revealed from within the stunning needlework.”

I am not of Quaker heritage but I do admire the efforts and vision of this artistic group of Friends in creating such narrative pieces of embroidery. They ignited the imagination of many—to the point that eventually a museum was built around the project!


A film and informative exhibition is part of The Quaker Tapestry Museum. – image from The Quaker Tapestry website

But this was art to be shared in an even larger context. The museum now holds classes in embroidery, has children’s activities, a shop, cafe, and sponsors traveling exhibitions of the Tapestry pieces and has inspired other textile art. All this resulted from the idea to put together some thread and a cloth to tell a story! Amazing.

So let us all be inspired by what has been created by “a chance remark”. What is YOUR thread and cloth? What was your “chance remark”?


About wendyj-sagahill

I am a textile artist, designer, and author.
This entry was posted in Fiber Arts and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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