Bridging Arts

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The fish, the rose and the nightingale - the class grows....

The class grows weekly at the Furzedown Project, Tooting, where we are running a six-week course with our new embroidery packs. The motifs were designed by our volunteer Hannah Walker and stitches worked by experts at Royal School of Needlework. Kate Farrer, who embroidered one of the packs, with a Rose and Nightingale motif, is here to teach today.  We have so many new people that we split into two groups. Some people are keen to stay with the fish - others have finished and want to move on to the Rose and Nightingale.
Abigail, who last week helped by recalling a host (or should I say shoal) of fish-related stories from the Bible, finished off her piece during the week at home. She was unsure whether the French knots around the tail should be visibly connected i.e. on the front of the fabric. But decided that in her case, they should be, as they looked like a net. It is very effective!
The finished piece.
Tea break is very important. This Rose and Nightingale motif lies idle for the time being.
Here is Kate's finished sample.
It is crewelwork i.e. in wool and we talk a bit about this and Jacobean pattern i.e. styles that flourished in the reign of King James 1 in the early 17th century. Traditional Jacobean patterns show fantastic distortions in leaves, plants and animals typical of traditional crewelwork.
Our nightingale in contrast is elegantly restrained - though it is a symbol of romantic passion. Hannah chose the rose and nightgale because of its strong links with Persian poetry and traditions but also its strong tradition in the west as a symbol of romance.  So many examples - from Keats, Oscar Wilde and Shelley to  A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square -  the 1940s song by Manning Sherwin and Eric Maschwitz, famously sung by Vera Lynn.
Hannah, when she first presented these packs in Battersea, read fabulous lines from a Persian poet 14th century poet Hafez of Shiraz. Sherwin and Maschwitz's lyrics seven hundred years later ....

That certain night,
The night we met,
There was magic abroad in the air.
There were angels dining at the Ritz,
And a nightingale sang in Berkeley Square.

I may be right, I may be wrong,
But I'm perfectly willing to swear
That when you turned and smiled at me,
A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square.

The moon that lingered over Londontown
Poor puzzled moon, he wore a frown.
How could he know that we two were so in love?
The whole darn world seemed upside down.

The streets of town were paved with stars,
It was such a romantic affair.
And as we kissed and said goodnight,
A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square.

Made famous by Vera Lynn...