She was joined by Kassia St Clair, and Rosie Goldsmith (chair) to discuss the history of the world through sewing and fabric. The panel intricately weaved the narrative of thread throughout history, politics and economics. From the use in the Apollo 11’s space suits, Egyptian mummification to the “wonderful, frivolous and very impractical” use of lace.
St Clair, author of The Golden Thread noted how cloth has been linked to trade and global power as a “very portable form of wealth”, hence the network of trade roads now known as “Silk Roads”.
Hunter said throughout history sewing and cloth has become a powerful form of protest. In her book, Threads of Life, she describes the “Chilean patchworks”, which were hugely instrumental in documenting a “country silenced by fear, abductions and torture”.
“Needlework is used as a form of language, and what a universal language it is!”“Needlework is used as a form of language, and what a universal language it is!”
The patchworks depicted stories of the lost men and women and children in a form of “silent protest” that was not picked up by the authorities as they dismissed it as “merely women’s work”. However, she said without these threads, this part of history would not have been documented.
The panel agreed that the importance of textiles will continue to play its role in the future as our lives continue to be chronicled and “measured in thread”.
If you are interested in more events like this, please also see Event 273 at 7pm on Thursday 30 May.
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Picture L-R (Clare Hunter, Kassia St Clair and Rosie Goldsmith)
Picture by Chris Athanasiou