Saturday, 1 July 2017

Chinese Whispers and Beamish Open Air Museum.

After being inspired by The Quilters Guild project of the same name a few years ago, Durham Guild decided to produce work for this exhibition beginning in December 2015 when 12 members of the guild signed up to produce 12 images using fibres and/or yarn.

The task was simple enough…..”A completed textile of 30 x 30 cm to fit a frame of 50 x 50 cm, based on a photograph of the preceding piece within 6 weeks –  sending a photograph on to the next volunteer in line” The really hard part was not talking about the work for over one year!  The unveiling of all the entries was a very moving occasion. No-one had any idea of what to expect. The links between one picture and the next are shown in the captions to each of the items.  This challenge was so inspiring.

The results are stunning and the exhibition is a great testimony to the skills of the Guild members.

Do go to the Guild site at   where you can see close ups of all of the items and a full description written by the members who produced them. The year long creative journey is very moving.

The Heritage Centre is near Durham Cathedral and is a busy tourist centre.

Durham Guild also has a Facebook site here:

Durham Guild at Beamish Open Air Museum.

The display moved on to Beamish Museum for the three days the Guild was demonstrating traditional skills.The Durham Guild of Spinners Weaver and Dyers had volunteered to dress up and demonstrate at Beamish Open Air Museum in County Durham.  I had never done anything like this before and it was so much fun!.
We were given the Band Hall  for the exhibition and demonstrating.

Here is a sample of the wonderful response to the Chinese Whispers challenge but do visit the wordpress site for a full viewing.

Part of the Chinese Whispers display.  The miners banner on the wall shows the Big Meeting.

Just to give you a background to the museum here is the web link.

The Band Hall was hung with banners from the mining villages. These banners are still treasured by the villages in Durham and are proudly displayed in the amazing processions for the Durham Miners Gala held every year in July. The next Gala, the 133rd,  is on July 8th.  The bands start playing in the processions and as one of the routes is very close to where I live we can hear them in the house.  I love going to the Gala Field later in the day.

I had not visited Beamish for a number of years and I was amazed at the variety of activities on offer.

Our role for three days was to demonstrate the traditional skills of weaving and spinning.  I took along my little box loom to do some patterned band weaving. We all had to dress in costumes issued by the costume department of the museum.  It was great fun dressing up!

Dressed in costume at Beamish Open Air Museum

The day was punctuated by rumbling and clattering from the road outside the hall. There is a trolley bus for people to ride around the museum.  A horse drawn cart and steam engine also went past at regular intervals.

The steam engine

The traditional horse drawn cart

We settled in for the day. 

Some of our spinners
I was amazed at the number of visitors from abroad.  This is not so surprising really as I always visit this type of museum when on holiday.

The first wave of visitors
One table was set up with small peg looms so that children and adults could have a go.  This was very popular.  Crafts can be taught even if there is no common language.

My small band loom with a Sami band.
I took several warped heddles and managed to use weave two complete warps during the day.  The picture here is from my third warp.  It is a Sami band pattern from Kautokeino in Norway from the end of the 19th century. The pattern is from a small booklet printed, I think, in 1946 which contains patterns for 8 bands. All of the patterns are from original bands woven in the second half of the nineteenth century. This was very kindly sent to me by a Guild member who knows how much I love Sami band weaving.  Thank you.

Happy weaving

Susan J Foulkes

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