The Overlord Embroidery

The Overlord Embroidery is the story of the D-Day invasion of Normandy by Allied Forces on 6 June, 1944. Commissioned by Lord Dulverton in 1968 and completed in 1974,  it was designed by artist Sandra Lawrence. The 34 panels measure 83 metres (272 feet) in length making this one of the largest works of its kind in the world. This is a big embroidery! Each panel is each 2.4 meters long and 0.9 meters deep.  The image is bought to life using appliqué and hand embroidery. It was worked by a team of embroiderers at the Royal School of Needlework using traditional methods.

Overlord Embroidery panel
Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke, and Winston Churchill on panel 28 of the Overlord Embroidery. Image from the D-Day Museum site

The embroidery is now housed at the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth. On The D-Day Story Portsmouth site you can see some of the panels and read an article on how the embroidery was made. Over 50 different fabrics were used in the Overlord Embroidery, including pieces from uniforms.

Some of The Overlord Embroidery panels. Image from the D-Day Museum site

Usually when people think of embroidery as a craft associated with the domestic, the personal and the intimate. We think of small hand held items that evoke memories.  Or items used in domestic settings that become associated with family events. Many textile artists explore the themes of personal and family memories via thread and fabric. Only a few have tackled stories of the Big moments of history. The Overlord Embroidery is an example of a textile on a large scale, recording large scale events.

The D-Day Story is one of six museums run by Portsmouth Museums. It holds over 10,000 items that tell the story of D-Day. The D-Day Story was shortlisted for the European Museum of the Year Award 2019.

This video is a rather old fashioned news item covering the making and display of the Overlord Embroidery.

Women in the D-Day Museum: The Overlord Embroidery is a video produced by the
The D-Day Story, Portsmouth to tell the story of the women behind the creation of the Piece.

 

 

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6 Comments

  1. The Overlord Embroidery. I have been privileged to see this amazing piece of incredible embroidery in person. Everything about it is amazing. The designs of course are very detailed and graphic, the colours, fabrics and textures used to create the various “looks” necessary in each panel are brilliant and imaginative. I spent the day looking and re-looking at every stitch, touring the exhibit several times, and each time, as a quilter and embroiderer, I found new things to enjoy. It was a great pleasure for me to see this exceptional work of art particularly because my Dad was an army tank driver in the D Day landings. Thank you for sharing this.

    Pauline Perry
    1. Hi Pauline thanks for your comment on this as I am in Australia and every now and then we travel overseas. It’s a long trip and often packed with people to see and things to do. I was tossing up whether to put this on my must see list and you have persuaded me it will be worthwhile traveling to Portsmouth to see it. So its on my must see list now. Thanks!

      sharonb
  2. I. was completely blown away when viewing your posting on the Overlord Tapestry . The over all techniques seemed so modern in many ways. Thank you for passing on this thought provoking work of art . It caused me to investigate the history of the piece and find out where it is housed in Portsmouth England

    Eve
  3. Thank you very much for bringing this to my attention. It is an amazing labor of love and artistry. I would love to go and see it some day. As a veteran myself, I get emotional just imagining it.

    Susan Steele

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