Opus Anglicanum

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For anyone interested by embroidery, Opus Anglicanum at the V&A museum is a must see exhibition. Despite its somewhat inaccessible name, the exhibition is a rare treat to see historical pieces, some of which are almost 1000 years old or on loan from usually closed archives.

The Toledo Cope, 1320-30, England.

The exhibition itself has a very considered, calm feel which seems to suit to nature of the materials on show. It is amazing that these pieces have survived this long, understandably some of the silks have lost the vibrancy of their colour and the metal work has tarnished, but the skill and detail are very evident. In most of the designs, the red colours have survived the best, but in the Toledo Cope the blues are especially pleasing.

The Toledo Cope, 1320-30, England.

The descriptions of the pieces are very detailed, each siteing the types of stitch and techniques used as well as the materials in each piece. There is no doubt of the detail of these pieces is astonishing, even if our modern interpretation of the subject matters can be a little amusing like these very long lions.

Lions on Horse Trapper 1330-40

There are some handy videos that will fill in the gaps in anyone’s knowledge who is not familar with the techniques on display.

Along side the embroidery, there are a few related treat pieces such as this beautiful swan pin which shares influences with the embroidery subjects.

The Dunstable Swan Jewel, c1400

Opus Anglicanum is open to the public at the Victoria and Albert museum now until the 5th Feb 2017.

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