Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of Medieval English Embroidery

Hand & Lock announced as official sponsor of the new V&A exhibition

The John of Thanet Panel, Unknown, 1300 – 1320, England. Museum no. T.337-1921. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Hand & Lock have a long illustrious history covering two and a half centuries of embroidery, ceremony and fashion. But our history pales when you delve into the world of Opus Anglicanum, an embroidery technique about to be celebrated by the V&A, that dates back to the 12th century.

Just in time for Hand & Lock’s 250th anniversary, we were excited to hear that the V&A were planning an exhibition highlighting precious Opus Anglicanum embroideries. An exhibition of this nature and scale hasn’t occurred for 50 years and is a perfect opportunity to get people excited about the art form. We had to get involved got in touch to find out how we could get involved in the exhibition and…

We are delighted to formally announce that we are an official sponsor of the V&A’s ground breaking exhibition ‘Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery’ opening 30th September 2016. In addition to sponsoring the exhibition we are running a series of amazing talks and workshops to highlight the history, techniques and artistic skills that made these rare and unique pieces.

Often featuring complex imagery, and ambitious in their scale and intricacy, they were sought after by kings, queens, popes and cardinals across Europe. This exhibition is the first opportunity in over half a century to see an outstanding range of surviving examples in one place. Paintings, illuminated manuscripts, metalwork and stained glass will be shown alongside, to explore the world within which these exquisite works were created. Luxury embroideries were made by professional craftsmen and women living in the City of London, some of whom we can still identify by name. London was a hub for commerce, and the embroiderers formed part of an international mercantile network.

The rare survivals of this extraordinary period of English art are today scattered across Europe and north America. Some of the embroideries have not been seen in Britain since they were produced. Throughout the duration of the exhibition H&L in partnership with the V&A will run a season of workshops and talks exploring the medieval techniques and embroidery featured in the exhibit.

H&L are presenting three talks over the duration of the exhibition and six workshops that explore the techniques used in Opus Anglicanum.

Our first talk delves into the long and fascinating history behind the workmanship and the artifacts of the Opus Anglicanum exhibition. This illuminating talk by Dr Christine Linnel will give visitors to the Opus Anglicanum exhibition added understanding and historical context.

Our second talk at the V&A explores the technical aspects of Opus Anglicanum and is delivered by Dr Susan Kay Williams and Liz Elvin, both experts in their fields. The evening will give attendees a fantastic and rare insight into the practice of embroidery from the middle ages and which techniques and practices are still used today.

Our final talk brings together the expertise and knowledge of Anthea Godfrey and Diana Springall to speak about the artistic impact and legacy of Opus Anglicanum. The two talks will explore the artistic evolution and it’s impact on the 20th Century.

Make sure you don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery
1 October 2016 – 5 February 2017
Victoria and Albert Museum

The Steeple Aston Cope 1310-40 - detail of angel on horseback with lute copyright Victoria and Albert Museum London
175-1889 Cope Embroidered fragments from a cope with The Tree of Jesse England 1295-1315 Silver-gilt, silver thread and silk embroidery on silk twill
The Chichester Constable Chasuble ca. 1335-45. 2016. Image copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Paris, musÈe de Cluny - musÈe national du Moyen ¬ge. CL20367a;CL20367b.
Get involved

Discover more about the H&L Talks and Workshops

Read More
Hand and Lock large logo