Detail from A Life Worth Living, Lisa Earley, 2014 – Image by Simon Griggs

Using both historical and contemporary pieces, this poignant and timely exhibition portrays the role of needlework, especially embroidery, as a calming influence in troubled times and links it to personal experiences.

The exhibition covers both world wars with pieces ranging from small embroideries such as postcards, a tea cosy and handkerchiefs, to artefacts such as sweetheart pincushions produced by disabled servicemen. There are also Penelope needlework kits designed especially for servicemen from His Majesty’s Forces during World War II as well as pieces made by those left behind on the Home Front. Alongside the embroideries will be examples of contemporary magazines such as ‘Stitchcraft’ and ‘Embroidery’ (the Guilds own magazine) with articles and tips on making the most of what you have during wartime.

Bringing the story right up to date will be contemporary pieces inspired by more recent conflicts, such as Comment on the Afghan War by Cobie Erskine and A Life Worth Living by Lisa Earley.

Lisa Harris, Collections and Interpretation Manager at the Museum says, “When a local branch member of the Guild asked us to help bring this exhibition to the East Anglian region, it was hard to refuse! So often our personal memories of embroidery relate to older family members who tried to teach us when we were younger or experiences of using chunky materials at school. Rarely do we realise the importance that needlework and embroidery can play in improving our personal wellbeing. From wounded servicemen finding ways to recover from injury through to family members left behind, each embroidered piece adds to the story of how busying the hands can help still the mind.”

Cushion cover of patched printed flags and images, WW1 – Image by the Embroiderers Guild

All the pieces for the exhibition have been specially selected from the magnificent collection held by the Embroiderers Guild – the UK's leading educational charity promoting embroidery.

For details of workshops and events taking place to accompany the exhibition, please see the museum website: