Stepping Off The Edge
103cms (40.5") long x 69cms (27") wide
From sampler to momento mori.
A momento mori inspired by a sampler in the Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum's collection. (Memento mori is a Latin phrase meaning 'remember you must die'. A basic memento mori painting would be a portrait with a skull but other symbols commonly found are hour glasses - or chicken egg timers to bring it up to date! - or clocks, extinguished or guttering candles, fruit, and flowers). It's called Stepping Off The Edge because of the bronze stepping off on the left hand side and symbolises life after death, and going into the unknown.
The quilt also has from the collection, a child's balancing toy, and a large pot which I've put honesty seedheads in. The raven is dripping paint onto a small book which has the words "The moving finger writes..." stitched on. The quote "I wasted time and now time doth waste me" is from Richard II, Shakespeare. The clock hands are made of the words *the life of time is motion* and were taken from a clock at Snowshill Manor in Glos.
"The English word 'sampler' derives from the Latin 'exemplum', or the old French term 'essamplaire', meaning 'an example'. Before the introduction of printed designs, embroiderers and lacemakers needed a way to record and reference different designs, stitches and effects. The answer was to create a sampler – a personal reference work featuring patterns and elements that the owner may have learned or copied from others, to recreate again in new pieces.
Such stitch and pattern collections may have been assembled in a number of cultures where decorative needlework was widely practised. Early examples rarely survive, but the quality of the oldest surviving samplers suggests they were made by experienced hands, as well as children, (in many cultures learning needlework was an important part of a young girl's education). The earliest in our collection were found in Egyptian burial grounds, and probably date from the 14th or 15th centuries.
LSAGM have a number of samplers in their collection, but I liked this blue and white one, with it's prayer at the bottom.
The V&A continue about 19th century samplers...
"Moral or religious texts, though usually less personal (than Parker's), continued to be a frequent choice in the first half of the 19th century. First popular in England in the mid-17th century, these improving or pious statements are central to the often fairly unsophisticated pieces we now recognise as a 'classic' Victorian sampler. This type of piece was also important in the embroidery traditions of European settlers in America, whose strongly felt sense of religious purpose helped to sustain them in an unfamiliar and often unforgiving landscape. A more accomplished piece stitched by 'E Pratt' in the 'New Orphan House Ashley Down Bristol' in 1886 helps demonstrate that in the 18th and 19th centuries samplers were increasingly being used as an educational tool for girls from all social backgrounds."
The sampler in the LSAGM collection