Thursday, 31 May 2012

St Cuthberts Link

I managed a flying visit to the British Library on the 30th - insufficient time to see the main exhibition 'Writing the World' but long enough to see the most expensive book ever purchased by the British Library -
£9 million for the pocket book St Cuthberts Gospel (see blog from 8th May: Texts at the BL).

For those of you who have completed City & Guilds Embroidery at some point in your 'career' you will almost certainly have looked at Opus Anglicanum - more particularly St Cuthberts stole and maniple

I hadn't made the connection - but this little book, for some time, shared coffin space with St Cuthberts stole - so if you are looking for a link with embroideries - this is it...

The oldest embroideries to survive date back to the Anglo Saxon period, including St Cuthbert's stole and maniple embroidered in gold thread circa 10th century. They are currently on display at Durham Cathedral.

Opus Anglicanum (English Work) was famed for its fine goldwork, underside couching and use of spiral stitch.

The greatest period of Opus Anglicanum 1250-1350 saw embroidery exported all over Europe as gifts to Kings. It coincided with the height of English illuminated manuscripts, and manuscript illuminators were probably involved in embroidery designs.

The exhibition includes a short video of the process of marking vellum before writing, and the way this little book is lit in its glass case you can clearly see the lines after many hundreds of years.

Oh and whilst I was there I came upon a new word (well to me anyway) 'Gauffered' referring to the tooled leather on the covers. It just strucka chord - thought I might start a glossary...

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