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After almost 60 years, this 4.5m x 5m stumpwork textile picture is in urgent need
of conservation work and volunteers are being trained to undertake the required work,
under the supervision of consultant textile conservation specialists. It is anticipated
that the project will take three to five years to complete.
The mural is an important resource for the textile community, and involvement in
the full range of activities required to help the work of saving the mural is welcomed
from any interested volunteers. While all qualified textile conservators are welcome
to be involved in this prestigious project on any level, training will also be provided
for experienced needleworkers and textile students. The NNA is keen to utilise the
educational potential of the project with possible apprenticeships and validated
training. On a wider front, volunteers are needed for a wide variety of activities
apart from work on the mural itself and programmes will be initiated to involve schools
and colleges in the social history aspects of the mural and to encourage interest
in textile art and conservation. The mural will be open to the public for viewing
throughout all stages of the project.
Professional textile conservators Alison Lister from Bristol, and Janie Lightfoot
from London are Consultants for the project, and we welcome Wendy Hickson from Winchester
as our resident textile conservator thanks to a grant from the Tanner Trust.
Anyone interested in volunteering for the Country Wife project in any way should
contact Wendy Hickson at the National Needlework Archive, preferably by email: email@example.com
The project would like to thank Conservation by Design Ltd for the donation of a conservation vacuum cleaner for use on the mural. Volunteers are now in the process of assessing and initial cleaning of the mural.
Project sponsors include:
Greenham Common Trust
Michell Instruments Ltd., Ely
Conservation by Design, Bedford
The Factory Shop, Lancaster
‘The Country Wife’ textile mural was designed by Constance Howard and was made by
her, and some of her students at Goldsmiths College, for the Country Pavilion at
the Festival of Britain in 1951. Many of the craftwork features on the mural were
made by members of the WI who were experts in such fields as glove making, canework,
and embroidery. At the close of the Festival the mural was given to the National
Federation of Women’s Institutes and it was housed at Denman College in Oxfordshire
until February 2009 when it was transferred to the WI Collection at The National
Constance Howard was a giant in her field, innovative in her own work and inspirational to many generations of textile artists during her time as Head of Department at Goldsmith’s College. ‘The Country Wife’ is not only iconic of its time in terms of style and social content, but also a major example of the work of the twentieth century’s most important textile artist. It is essential that ‘The Country Wife’ is preserved and that it is made accessible to the public.
Volunteers documenting the picture and using the Conservation by Design vacuum cleaner.
Country Wife Mural