The Crescent- A Stitch in Time

Nikki Anderson one of our Museum Attendants and Textile Designer has put together this blog about the 19th Century embroideries that are on display here at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.

To celebrate the reopening of ‘The Crescent’, the iconic hotel in the centre of Buxton, Buxton Museum and Art Gallery are exhibiting some rare and exciting art works dating back to the early 18th Century alongside some more contemporary paintings and prints.

The Crescent was built in 1788 and included a hotel at each end of the building and six town houses in the middle and was commissioned by ‘The 5th Duke of Devonshire’. Its purpose was to provide luxurious accommodation for visitors to the town. His vision, to create a spa town to rival Bath. Architect John Carr designed the building which was completed in 1788. It quickly became a popular visitor attraction and became a focus for artists whom would interpret ‘The Crescent’ in various art forms.

Embroidery 1
Embroidery 1
Embroidery 2
Embroidery 2
Embroidery 3
Embroidery 3

 

I was fascinated in particular with 3 pieces of embroidery on display. All 3 embroideries show the view of ‘The Crescent’ as the focal point from the slopes at St Ann’s Cliff. There is little known about the embroideries other than they were created in the mid 19th Century. The detail achieved in these works is incredible. You can see in the detail below the accuracy in very small detail. This photo has been magnified so the tiny stitch work can be seen.

FIG_2_JPG

These embroideries have been created from etchings by Henry Moore which were made in 1819. Often the etchings were printed onto the silk fabric and the free hand embroidery was used to create the painting. On close inspection it appears that most of the embroidery would have been done by machine possibly using a pantograph method to transfer the stitches. Silk became very popular in the late 18th Century and by the mid 19th Century it became a common pastime to make these silk embroideries. I love the different contrasting effects used by the satin stitch on the machine and the hand stitching using running and seeding stitch (embroidery  3) whilst still obtaining such a delicate nature to the works. The fashioning of metallic threads of the 18th century have also influenced these works alongside the popularity of satin stitch and long and short stitch. In the magnified photo below a method called ‘couching’ has been used. This is where threads are placed on the surface of the fabric and then sewn stitched on by hand or machine. If you look closely you can see where the couching has unraveled showing the loose yarn.

FIG_4

It is  interesting to note the fact these embroideries were worked upon in only 2 or 3 shades. Black and gold and/or beige silk. This may have also been influenced by’ Blackwork’, which was developed in the 16th and 17th Century and was incredibly popular.

These incredibly beautiful pieces of embroidery are on display alongside etchings, paintings and photographs until the 1st September at Buxton Museum & Art Gallery.

 

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The Derbyshire Open is now … open!

The Derbyshire Open Art Exhibition was officially opened last night and you can see the amazing artwork yourself for free until Friday 13 September 2019. Most of the works are for sale. The overall winner, The Derbyshire Trophy is a purchase prize and joins over a thousand other works in the museum’s collection for future generations to enjoy.

59 DERBYSHIRE TROPHY A Winter Walk by Carl Longmate
A Winter Walk by Carl Longmate

The Derbyshire Open Art Competition is run annually by Derbyshire County Council. In this the competition’s 37th year, 258 entries have been received from across Derbyshire and neighbouring counties.  22 entries from young people under 21 years were included in this year’s selection.

140 DCC YOUNG ARTIST AWARD There's No Better View Than Out of my Window by Kitty Sumner
There’s no Better View Than Out of my Window by Kitty Sumner, aged 7

Three judges had the difficult task of choosing the pictures to exhibit and selecting the award winners. Sandra Orme is a Buxton artist and previous winner of the Buxton Spa Prize, Amanda Penman is the editor of Artbeat Magazine which promotes all sorts of artistic and creative activity in Derbyshire and Chris Walters is a member of The Friends of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery. The judges’ selection provides an exhibition celebrating the county and living here:  where we live, the view and how we spend our time. It shows a good feeling about living in Derbyshire: the landscape, the friendliness of the people and the impressive architecture.

The Friends of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery sponsor a purchase prize. Chair of the Friends, Lindsay Crowe presented the award to this year’s winner which will be added to the museum’s collection.

195 FRIENDS PRIZE Seeking the Source- Shooters Clough by Patrick Jones.png
Seeking the Source: Shooter’s Clough by Patrick Jones

One prize has yet to be decided. Visitors are encouraged to help choose the Visitors Choice Prize which will be announced in August. You can plan your visit here.

Derbyshire Open Art Competition 2019

DCC AWARD 36 Ice Cream in Matlock Bath by Joanne Morley - Copy
Ice Cream in Matlock Bath by Joanne Morley Derbyshire County Council Award 2018

It’s nearly time again for Derbyshire’s premier art competition. Since 1982, the Derbyshire Open has attracted amateur and professional artists of all ages competing for a range of prizes and a place in the museum collection. Now in its 38th year, the resulting exhibition is the highlight of our summer programme. Entry form and details below:

Entry Form DOE 2019

If you want to just come and see the amazing artwork, the exhibition is on from Saturday 6 July to Friday 13 September. You can plan your visit here.

Dragons, coins and silken purses

What would you hide?

next events for Hoards?

A heap, a hoard, a treasure, a treat…a glitter of staters across a cave floor, the gleam of a brooch in darkness, a dream wrapped and bound and hidden in hope. What makes a hoard so special – and so very personal?

The Hoards: a hidden history of ancient Britain is still shining its way through the Museum galleries and our next set of events is coming up fast. Why not drop in and join us? all events are free and where materials are involved, they will be provided. Children of 7 years and less need to bring an adult with them but otherwise events are open to everyone

the plant that eats the robbers….

Sunday 26 May, 12 noon–3.30pm
Giants, dragons and terrible traps
How would you protect your hoard? Would there be a monster rumbling in a corner? Would there be a dragon resting on the pile of your gold? Or would you design some terrible trap, a maze of crushing rocks and flying spikes and trapdoors to flip a robber into a bottomless pit….
Cartoonist Martin Olsson will help you draw your treasure and how you would keep it hidden!

Allow 45 minutes.

Venue: Buxton Museum

Thursday 30 May, 10am–12noon
Make and take: curious coins
Counting your pennies…..what coins will fill your hoard? Have a look at the coins in the exhibiton: there are horses and hands, gods and heroes, numbers, names and things we cannot decipher. Would you be the face on your lost gold? Would you hoard some unicorn pennies or open-hand thruppenies, or wren farthings…..
Design your own coins with local artist Sarah Males.
Allow 45 minutes.

Venue: Buxton Museum

Sunday 2 June, 12noon–3.30pm
Silk purses and sow’s ears

“What would hold your hoard? Do you want a beautiful patterned purse, all beads and embroidery? Or would you like a painted pouch pulled tight with a drawstring to hold your hoarded coins safe? Or maybe you are a sow’s ear person, a folded twist of old leather, tough as boots and bristling with a the last of a pig’s hair
Make your own treasure bag with the Creeping Toad team, a special something to keep your coins in.

Allow 45 minutes.

Venue: Buxton Museum

These events overlap with our wonderful half.fish festival. You don’ t know about our mermaid excitements? Go here for a sense of the tide that is running!

Photo by Rob Young

 

 

Sacred Waters and Altars

Bret Gaunt sheds more light on some of the Roman artefacts at Buxton Museum:

With the arrival of the Romans in the 1st century a new culture was introduced to the tribal lands of the Corieltauvi, the native, Iron Age people of the Peak District. Although the region remained largely agricultural, the Romans exploited the rich lead deposits and established forts, such as Melandra and Brough, to control both the commodities and the local people. The Romans also built the town of Buxton, centred on the sacred thermal spring.

One of the ways in which the Romans integrated into the local cultures that became part of the Empire, was by the adoption of local gods into the pantheon of Rome. The Iron Age Celts largely worshipped at open air sites, most often associated with water, such as lakes, bogs, rivers and sacred springs. One of the most famous watery sites in the Peak District is the thermal spring at Buxton, then known as Aquae Arnemetiae, meaning ‘the Waters of the goddess Arnemetia’.

Buxton is one of only two places in Roman Britain known to have the prefix ‘Aquae’, the other being Bath in Somerset, known to the Romans as Aquae Sulis (the Waters of the goddess Sulis). Like its counterpart in the South, Roman Buxton consisted of a series of Bath houses, now under the Crescent, close to the sacred springs. On the Slopes, overlooking the site of the baths and springs, was a temple dedicated to the goddess Arnemetia; excavations in the late 18th century revealed that the temple was of typical Classical design with a rectangular podium supporting a shrine room with portico of columns to the front. Such temples are a rarity in Roman Britain with only five such examples being known; temples in Roman Britain more often take the form known as Romano-Celtic, being a tower type structure with colonnaded ambulatory around all four sides.

The name of the goddess Arnemetia contains the Celtic word ‘nemeton’, meaning ‘sacred grove’; so her name is interpreted as being ’she who dwells over against the sacred grove’. The springs at Buxton must have held special powers for the local people as there are six grouped closely together in the valley floor and which provide both hot and cold water. During the Roman period offerings of jewellery and coins were made at one of the springs located between The Old Hall Hotel and the Crescent; these finds are now in the Wonders of the Peak gallery at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.

brough altar
Altar to Arnomecta from Brough

Other evidence for the goddess Arnemetia comes in the form of an altar from the fort of Navio, close to the village of Brough, and now in the Wonders of the Peak gallery. Here the goddess is given the name Arnomecta. The altar was found in the underground strong-room of the headquarters building and consists of the typical block shape with a pair of bolsters to the top and inscription to the front. The inscription, which is contained within a wreath, reads ‘Deae Arnomecte Ael(ius) Motio V(otum S(olvit) L(aetus) L(ibens) M(erito), meaning ‘To the goddess Arnomecta, Aelius Motio gladly, willingly, and deservedly fulfilled his vow’.

altar top
Imperial altar top from Melandra

Altars were central to the cults of most gods and was the focus for sacrifices and offerings to the particular deity. At temple sites the altar was generally outside, and opposite the main door, though at military shrines in forts and Romano-Celtic temples the altars were often placed inside and against the walls. The large outdoor altars were for the public ceremonies associated with the deity, which generally involved the sacrifice of animals accompanied by prayers for the well-being of the Emperor and the community. The smaller altars would have been more suitable for the offering of food, incense and for wine to be poured over the top. It was not unusual for an altar to be erected or promised to a god in exchange for a safe journey or other favour, thus the phrase ‘gladly, willingly and deservedly fulfilled his vow’ on the Navio altar shows that whatever Aelius Motio asked for, the gods provided!

Other altars in Buxton Museum and Art Gallery include the top to a large Imperial altar from Melandra Roman fort near Glossop, a badly weathered altar from Hope village, as well as a small altar dedicated to Mars, god of war, from Brough. There must have been numerous altars set up at the healing shrine of Arnemetia in Buxton, including a large altar outside the temple for the focus of worship, but to date none have been found. Many of the altars were dedicated by people from across the Empire; an altar at Haddon Hall, near Bakewell, is dedicated to the Roman god of war Mars, and the Celtic goddess of sacred intoxication, Braciaca, by a high ranking officer from Numidia in North Africa, revealing the diverse cultures that existed in Roman Derbyshire.