The Eye of the Needle displays, for the first time in public, a selection of eye-catching, virtuoso seventeenth-century embroideries from the internationally renowned Feller Collection, together with outstanding examples from the Ashmolean’s own holdings. The exhibition explores the context in which these technically exacting works were made by girls and young women at home or school, and what they reveal of the society, economy, and culture of seventeenth-century England.
The embroideries were made during one of the most turbulent centuries in English history, when religious and political beliefs split families and the country. Beyond the opportunity for demonstrating technical ability, the embroideries illustrate the themes and concerns which occupied the minds of the young women making them. They often depict biblical stories at a time when religious issues, including the use of images, aroused great controversy. Similarly, during a period of increasing urbanization the pictorial pieces show idyllic country scenes with imaginary creatures and flowers.
Micheál and Elizabeth Feller: The Needlework Collection 2 vols published by Needleprint; £45 (per volume); available at the Ashmolean Shop or online: www.ashmolean.org/shop