While in Bristol I discovered one of the city’s textiles treasures. When visiting the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery I discovered four ‘tapestries’ depicting the history of Bristol in 27 scenes.
My photos are very dodgy because the Bristol tapestries are behind glass. Hopefully, you can get a sense of the scope and feel of the project, as the panels are 22 metres (about 24 yards) in length, and illustrate nearly 1000 years of Bristol’s history in 27 scenes.
These ‘tapestries’ like the famous Bayeux ‘tapestry’ are not actually woven textiles but embroidered ones. The four panels are made up of embroidery stitches, appliqué and techniques such as screen printing.
Mrs Jean Tanner and Mrs Marjorie Bleasedale came up with the idea in the late 1960s. It took 90 local people working until 1976 to realise the community arts project.
Two key things delighted me about these ‘tapestries’. First, I really enjoyed recognising the places I had visited. Even as a tourist I could recognise the local land marks.
My second delight was that the people who worked on the Bristol tapestries embroidered their names on the last panel. I loved seeing the signatures, as often textiles are unsigned and people do not know who made them.
I have been trawling the internet to find out more about the Bristol tapestries but there is little online with the exception of an entry on the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery website where they have some additional images of the installation process. The Bristol tapestries are an interesting project and when at the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, I made inquiries at the shop. I asked about any book or leaflet that might be available about the Bristol tapestries but was not in luck – nothing has been written. I understand the market for a book about this work is very small but I do wish there was more information about them online.
The Bristol tapestries is a fascinating insight into the city, its story and community arts. If you ever visit Bristol I hope you manage to see it.
Have you seen my book?
My book The Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design: Simple Stitches, Stunning Results shares practical methods about how to design and make a crazy quilt. I teach you how to balance colour, texture and pattern, in order direct the viewers eye around a crazy quilted project. I show you how to build decorative seam treatments in interesting and creative ways using a handful of stitches. My book is profusely illustrated as my aim is to be both practical and inspiring.