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Embroideries From The Past Exhibition

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by Tara Rahman (subscribe)
I'm a marketing/communications intern, fitness pro and lifelong dancer. Visit my portfolio, www.storiesofsitara.com
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Come and worship at the shrine of embroidery
Dandelion embroidery
'Dandelion' - hanging in the corridor of EGV


Kids learning embroidery
Embroiderers in the making

"I began sewing at the age of 7 and I haven't stopped stitching since," says Sylvia Taylor, Honorary Secretary of the Embroidery Guild Victoria. The blue-eyed mature lady of 76 gestures to the hexagon-patterned quilt draped behind us, adding,

"Can you imagine cutting out each hexagon and sewing each one together by lamplight?"

She herself is manning the welcome desk of the exhibition while crocheting an orange place mat. We must have looked striking to visitors to the exhibition, a dark-haired Asian girl in a hot pink sweater and baby blue pants and a white-haired Caucasian woman in a peachy orange suit, with an intricately-woven patchwork quilt as the backdrop.

EGV
The facade of a hub of embroidery activity


If you are around Malvern this week, drop by Embroidery Guild Victoria's spiritual home at 170 Wattletree Road (take tram no.5 and get off at Stop 46) to view Embroideries From The Past. Housed in an airy white room in a deceptively quiet-looking converted two-storey house are 160 (out of 1500 pieces) embroidered flouncy white dresses, beaded black dresses, patchwork quilts, boxes, frame covers and more. It's a snapshot of EGV's vast collection of embroidery works.

"People bring a piece in and they don't know anything about it. So we have to put what we think is the right date on it," says Sandra Warren-Smith, an EGV member and hostess on the day.

I was particularly taken with the 'Dandelion' (the topmost picture), a 1973 design of dandelion heads on rust-coloured furnishing fabric using hand embroidery with silks, wools and beads. I love it when artists use a variety of materials to create something unique and cohesive.

teabag embroidery
Highlights of the Ethnic Collection


The Ethnic and Oriental Section also appealed to me. The piece on the left is a Japanese scroll featuring a crane. Revered in East Asian countries for its longevity (its fabled lifespan is a thousand years), the Japanese refer to it as the bird of happiness. The piece on the right is actually one square of a mosaic of embroidered dried teabags called 'Secret Pageant'. There was also a tiny, beaded Turkish vest, which I thought was very cute.

The exhibition is a stark reminder that embroidery is a cherished art form. It also shows that you can use it to create all sorts of things, in all manner of shapes and sizes.

If you do not have the time to view the exhibition this week, fret not. There is always something going on at EGV. When I entered the house several girls were learning 'how to make a cupcake with a magnet' in the Ethel Oates Room off the main corridor. The EGV ladies are making sure that embroidery is passed on to the younger generation. Interested in sending your child to classes? Or are you an experienced embroiderer and just want to make friends who share the same interest?

Get in touch with the EGV, who offer adult and junior stitching classes, and coordinate guidance groups. Call EGV on 03 9509 2222, check out their website or their Facebook page for more information.

On a last note, like other visitors, I was not allowed to take photography and cannot portray the true beauty of the exhibition in this article. But it's definitely worth a visit.
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Why? An astounding embroidery collection
When: Sat (April 27, 2013) - Sun (May 5, 2013)
Phone: 03 9509 2222
Where: 170 Wattletree Road, Malvern
Cost: $7 (non-members), $5 (members), free entry for children
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