While embroidery during the 19thcentury was for some women a cause of confinement for others it was a comfort. Rozsika Parker writes:
The act of embroidering came to be seen as correct drawing-room behavior, and the content was expected to convey the social and psychological attributes required of a lady. On a broad level it was an index of gentility.
My work for Narryna consists of exploring social class through embroidery on linen and garments. This work is be accompanied by a sound piece: Narryna Gossip.
You can find more information and hear the artists talk about their works on the Narryna website: https://www.narryna.com.au/online-exhibitions
Narryna seems to epitomise the success of the early colonial free settlers. Its neo-Classical façade radiates an air of genteel respectability which is echoed by elegant interior furnishings. An atmosphere of domestic comfort, security and prosperity prevails. However, when one probes beneath the veneer, different histories emerge. Hidden Histories is a series of installation works that brings to light untold stories, focusing on the lives of women – both free settlers and convicts.
Hidden Histories is guest curated by Dr Llewellyn Negrin. Participating artists are Frances Watson, Janine Combes, Jane Slade, Julie Payne, Christl Berg, Irene Briant, Denise Rathbone, Chantale Delrue and Janelle Mendham.
In the 19th century, the home was identified with the woman as a result of the demarcation between the public and private spheres. Narryna’s interiors are a particularly apt location in which to explore these forgotten lives.