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Winchester Embroiderers' Guild welcomes contemporary and traditional textile artists, embroiderers and craft enthusiasts

 A restaurant setting suggests conviviality and celebration of good food and drink. These were the starting points for the embroidery panel.

It was designed by a team of eight members of the Winchester Embroiderers’ guild as a group project for their Millennium Exhibition. Over 50 people took part during the 18 months it took to complete the work.

The composition represents an amalgam of ideas, which seemed especially relevant for this site within the Cathedral precincts. The central placing of a still life, framed by two elaborate borders, with a background is influenced by the style of page layout found in the Winchester Bible. The decorative uncial script used in this medieval manuscript has also been adopted for the embroidery. Gothic pillars and arches have been incorporated into the design, reflecting elements of the Cathedral architecture. The central still life follows traditional painting in its depiction of a table displaying a profusion of ripe fruits, a carafe of wine and other items. These have been chosen not only for decorative purposes, but also because of their local connections. Thus Hampshire strawberries and watercress are included and locally farmed trout. The fish also commemorates Isaac Walton, famous for his book The Complete Angler. He is buried in the Cathedral like Jane Austin, presented here by a copy of her novel Emma.

The representation of bread and wine suggests both plain food and the Eucharist. The meanings associated with some of the plants are as follows:

Honeysuckle – generosity
Dog Rose – pleasure and pain
Violet – faithfulness
Snowdrop – hope
Ox Eye Daisy – patience
Clover – industry
Honesty – honesty and true love
Lily of the Valley – purity
Convolvulus – humility Ivy – fidelity
Poppy – consolidation

The tendrils of the climbing plant are the ties linking all of these together.

Ideas for the embroidery were generated by the participants at Guild workshops and reflect the variety of skills and styles within the group. Many different fabrics and threads were used and some were dyed, painted or textured for specific effects. Traditional hand techniques include pulled work, counted thread, surface stitchery of all kinds, patchwork, quilting, gold work, raised work, lace and applique plus free machine embroidery.

Funding for the project was provided by the Cathedral, Anthony Wilson of Creative Crafts and the Winchester Embroiderers’ Guild, from whom the panel is on indefinite loan.