Thursday, 25 October 2012


So I've already told you about my paternal grandmother and her penchant for daytime television. My maternal grandmother loved books......her shelves groaned under the weight of such volumes as The Far Pavilions and RF Delderfield's Diana.....and tapestry.  Today is a public holiday in Hobart for show day. My plans to get into the garden have been thwarted by rain so I thought I'd show you my now dormant tapestry addiction. In my defence, they say that tapestry is the winter pastime of gardeners.....well in the UK anyway....and if you're middle aged veering towards elderly.

This is the first tapestry that I ever did and I worked on it with my grandmother:

I love the fact they her stitches and mine are all there together some twenty years later.

Soon after I moved to Hobart my now husband and I rented a Georgian sandstone house in the country. I was studying and teaching at the Art School and used to spend a lot of time reading and thinking about the Bloomsbury Group. I know, strange, yet I was transfixed by the story of Dora Carrington and her incredible love for the homosexual Lytton Strachey......she shot herself in the head after he died as she couldn't live without him....never mind that she was married to another man and sometimes indulged in lesbian affairs. And also about the curious life of Vanessa Bell and her art/family. Amongst others.....Vita Sackville West....Virginia Woolf.....Ottoline Morell. Anyway, this and tapestry deflected me from my study.

I have no idea why I embraced this prematurely middle aged repetitive type behaviour, yet I did. Over the course of a three year period I created all of these Elizabeth Bradley tapestry designs:

I even made a pilgrimage to her shop in Beaumaris on the Isle of Anglesey in Wales.....where Kate and Wills now live.

Then they were relegated to the ugly cupboard. I couldn't bear to decorate with them. It's only been in the last year that they have again seen the light of day......when I dug them out and put them in the children's rooms.

Last time we went to the UK my daughter and I were in Liberty and we bought a small Elizabeth Bradley tapestry, probably out of some misplaced nostalgia. We spent the next two weeks driving through Devon and Cornwall in a motorhome.....don't ask......doing tapestry.Who would have thought. And Jane over at Life on Planet Baby accuses me of being adverse to it any wonder.....I've done my time.



  1. I used to do a lot of tapestry too R! It's all at my parent's house. Also embroidery. My mother used to ship my sisters and I off to The Embroiderers Guild every Saturday afternoon in Winter (now that I have children I see how smart this idea was) and we'd sit for 2 hours being instructed by the old ladies on how to embroider. I've always said I'd have been quite a catch in the 18th Century. Re: Bloomsbury Group, When my husband was at Cambridge we used to go and have afternoon tea in "The Orchard". You'd either punt down the river Cam or go on a bit of a ramble as it was on the outskirts of the next village over. Apparently the Bloomsbury Group used to spend a lot of time there when they were at the University early last century. It's still very popular amongst the current university crowd. Lots of deck chairs set out with tea tables amongst the orchard trees, all very bucolic. xx

  2. I'm glad your pieces are again seeing the light of day! You were obviously really into it. Funny how we have these fads and then suddenly change direction. I almost got rid of a whole lot of old cake racks I collected one day, when I was a bit over them. Thank goodness something stopped me, cos I love them again! x

  3. Dear Romy and Heidi
    Lovely pictures! They don't belong in an ugly cupboard. Admit to being another tapesty and embroidery fan. My mother and grandmother taught me embroidery when I was a child, though never anything really practical like dressmaking. On winter evenings I work on my latest canvas while casting an eye over the televison. Have lately been doing the William Morris designs for cushions and dining chairs. Though not as pretty as your Elizabeth Bradley designs. In Paris in June I bought the canvas for one of the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries as we all, granddaughters included, love them. My project for next winter.
    How interesting Heidi! We lived in Cambridge many years ago while my husband was doing postgrad studies. We often had tea at The Orchard too. Sometimes driving there and sometimes on a lovely summer's day punting all the way along the river, in a green paradise. With the willows arching above the narrow green waters, swans floating alongside, towing a bottle of champagne in the water to keep it cool. We'd pass children's birthday punts with balloons floating above and little girls in party dresses. It was heaven. And has been for many students including the Bloomsburies and Rupert Brooke. Only a few years ago we joined some old friends from those days and recaptured the past by taking a punt all the way to Grantchester. It lived up to all our happy memories.
    We were married in Great St Mary's and had our reception in my husband's college so we have many happy memories of our time there, including the May Balls we attended and the May Bumps we cheered on. With best wishes, Pamela

  4. Ah my bedroom I have a whole chair covered with a tapestry done by my mother's mother. I never met her as she died in 1935 when my mother was a child.

    My sister and I didnt think much of the chair until it was admired by a valuer. Isnt that often the way? I wouldn't get rid of the chair it's a family heirloom....mum would come back and haunt me.

  5. So much work, they deserve to be out on display!

  6. Wow, I love those all - they are such comforting and timeless and tactile pieces of art (also love how you have a collection of mirrors over the fireplace.) Also you have had quite the career!

  7. Wow, you have clocked some serious time with the needle! I particularly love the one you and your grandmother made and also the butterflies. My Mum and sister (who are both big gardeners) do tapestry. I have never got on board but seeing these perhaps I will. Jx

  8. I love the fact that your stitched and your grandmother's are intertwined. What a lovely thought. And look at the beautiful results.

    Your writing is superb Miss Romy. Don't give up blogging. You have a real skill. xx

  9. Romy, these are so beautiful! Really, so gorgeous! They should be out for all to see. I LOVE the houses! But I mostly love the fact you did them with your Grandma. My grandma got me into cross-stitch (is that different to tapestry?) I've only ever done the one and it's still unfinished but I found it unpacking and feel an urge to dust it off and finish it. Maybe we can join Jane for a crafternoon :-) The best thing about blogging is that there are always people out who will share the joy of a craft that you may not find in your day to day circle. At least that's what I found with knitting. Mel xx

  10. That is some really beautiful work! So suitably impressed.

    I'd like to invite to join the Bosisto's giveaway at my blog, I have 4 lavender packs up for grabs here:

  11. Ah, just catching up here, Romy. I am delighted to have winkled them out of you for a blog post ("adverse to craft" - I've been misquoted here) - how splendid! I had no idea how many you'd done. You certainly downplayed that aspect ☺. Hmm, Mel's idea of a crafternoon sounds enticing. Are you up for it? J x

  12. Gosh you are so talented, I am now wondering if you know how to knit and crochet as well.... the butterfly tapestry is so pretty! Love that your Grandmother was a Far Pavillions fan, it is one of my absolute favourites, as is Shadow of the Moon. xx


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