The clump / by Sasha Ward

 Details from: The Sower, Canterbury Cathedral, C12th: Lady & The Unicorn Tapestry, Flanders C16th: my Laura Ashley patchwork quilt, 1975.

Details from: The Sower, Canterbury Cathedral, C12th: Lady & The Unicorn Tapestry, Flanders C16th: my Laura Ashley patchwork quilt, 1975.

The clump of flowers motif is found in many of my "favourite" items: the weeds, spots and stripes in the stained glass at Canterbury Cathedral, the background to the tapestries in The Cluny Museum in Paris and the Laura Ashley scraps that I made my patchwork quilts from. 

But the best example has got to be on the serge curtains stitched by William & Jane Morris in 1860 and hanging in the hall at Kelmscott Manor. The stitches are huge and the colours dramatic, each clump (below right) is about 300 mm. tall.

Above is my first drawing inside the Manor, drawn with great excitement in front of the serge curtains, with a  glimpse of the treasures beyond. These are a 1925 tapestry by JH Dearle (Art Director for Morris & Co. from 1896) hanging next to a black & white and a coloured design for the piece. 

 JH Dearle tapestry: detail of tapestry: my copy of two clumps from Dearle's black & white design.

JH Dearle tapestry: detail of tapestry: my copy of two clumps from Dearle's black & white design.

This "millefleurs" tapestry uses the clumps not as background filling or a border around figures - as in many Morris tapestry and stained glass designs - but as an overall small scale pattern (clumps about 120 mm. tall). There are about twelve different types of flower closely packed together with just a dark narrow border around the edge. Close study of the clumps reinforces a fact I particularly like, that these plants were not necessarily drawn from nature.