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Roisin Inglesby

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An Exemplary Embroidery of the Magdalene: how should curators understand women’s historic textiles?

Roisin Inglesby

In 2006 conservators at the V&A discovered an extraordinary 17th - century embroidery of Mary Magdalene. This paper investigates why the maker depicted the Magdalene in this seemingly unique way, and how a curator should interpret and explain textiles produced by anonymous women. I argue that many approaches focus on embroidering as an act or as behaviour, and embroideries only secondarily as physical manifestations of ideas, thus undermining the wider social impact of anonymous women’s work. However, liberated from the expectations of biography, anonymous textiles have the capacity to subvert traditional historical narratives, producing a more inclusive understanding of the past.

Mon, 27 Jan 14 0