The Women’s Library in East London has gone craft crazy. The current exhibition Hand Made Tales: Women and Domestic Crafts, explores the role of sewing, gardening, knitting and cooking in women’s lives. If you enjoy making things, you need to find time to visit this exhibition.
Hand Made Tales is full of beautiful hand-made items, as well as craft tools, vintage craft books and haberdashery. The exhibition explores connections between craft and history – in times when women had limited rights of ownership, they took care over the items they made. The exhibition also considers emotional connections made by craft, for example when we treasure and use our grandmother’s button jar, sewing box or knitting needles.
To complement the exhibition, artist Nicola Malkin has created some art pieces which have been scattered around the building, including giant knitting needles on the wall.
Last Saturday, London branches of the Women’s Institute took over the exhibition with a fun day of craft demonstrations, tea and free talks.
The most interesting speaker was Anne Stamper, the WI Honorary archivist who explained how the WI preserved, shared and developed craft skills throughout the 20th century, supporting rural communities and holding major exhibitions to showcase expert work.
It was also fascinating to see demonstrations of traditional craft and it inspired me to go home and teach myself tatting (with a lot of help from YouTube tutorials!).
Hand Made Tales runs till 26 March 2011. Free entry. The Women’s Library has an ongoing programme of thoughtful talks, walks and events. www.londonmet.ac.uk/thewomenslibrary