Newsletter – House Matters October 2015Read all about the harvest and progress on our conservation projects.
Read the update on our textile conservation work and find out about one or two things you may not have known!
Next week Lucretia will be leaving Hardwick for conservation at the National Trust Textile Conservation Studio, after a hundred years in the Entrance Hall
The piece is part of 5 embroideries that are known as the ‘Virtuous Women’, one of which; ‘Cleopatra’ now does not exist
Penelope has already returned from conservation just this month! – After leaving in 2011. The piece depicts the story of the wife of Ulysses, and represents her virtues while waiting for the return of her husband from war
Once each piece has returned from conservation they will be displayed in a brand new exhibition ‘Stitches of Time’, and we can’t wait for you to see each piece as it returns over the years!
Penelope will be on display for you to see from late June
I’ve been here a long time. Hanging on this wall. I don’t care to count the years, but fashions have changed. Seasons and people have come and gone. It doesn’t really affect me. Not really.
When I was young, I felt so vibrant and strong! People would look at me and admire what they saw: “What beautiful colours!” they would say. “What exquisite workmanship!” they would exclaim. I was an unforgettable embodiment of wealth, power and influence. It felt great!
But that was a long time ago. Now I don’t feel quite myself. I don’t mind that I haven’t moved since I was hung here. It’s a nice spot all told, with chairs arranged to give others a good view of me and a nice view through the windows.
The windows though, they are the problem. Well, they aren’t the problem. The sunlight coming through the windows is the big issue. I don’t know when I first noticed the effect it was having on me, but it has only increased as time has passed.
It started with a tingling in my fibres. It ITCHED! Then the itching got worse, especially in my silk fibres, and I could feel myself unravelling. Then the burning. Every time sunlight touched me, I thought I was on fire! Nothing can compare to it. Like a sunburn, but constant.
I can feel myself fading away. My energy is fading, along with my colours. I can feel myself sagging, and pulling against the fibres that the sunlight has weakened. But my beautiful colours! This is what upsets me most. No longer do people exclaim over my vibrant colours, because they aren’t there!
The worst thing is that I can feel my old self, like a shadow behind me, glowing brightly. Reminding me of the glorious days when I was first displayed.
Thankfully, the people who look after me now know of my infirmity. They understand the weakness in my threads, and while they cannot remember my glorious colours (they are all so young!) they know that I was not always this faded, mucky-looking old rag.
Like a sick relative they look after me; helping me because I cannot help myself. They have put a protective film over the glass. This stops the light which is invisible to them, but which they can measure on their instruments.
And the curtains; the blessed curtains! They have set up a system of curtains to cover the windows, which give me such relief. All of the light is cut out most of the time, something I will be forever grateful for. And if people want to look on my faded glory (which, admittedly, I still enjoy more than I should), the thicker curtains are drawn back as little as possible, and the thinner curtains keep at bay most of the destructive beams of sunlight.
They also arranged for me to be cleaned! Oh, how nice it was! Though I did have to be taken down from my hanging place first; a particularly traumatic experience for all involved, I can assure you. Even better than the washing, though, was the work done on my threads afterwards. Loose threads were couched, gaping holes caused by the burning sunlight were closed, a new backing was put onto me to protect me from the damp walls, and support my threads. I could feel strength flowing back into me. What a glorious experience!
Thank goodness for these people who care for me. While I will never regain my old strength and looks, at least I won’t disintegrate completely. Not for many, many more years, at least. So please, humour me, enjoy my faded glory, and don’t forget to tell your children and grandchildren about me; no longer colourful, but still a work of art.