20th October until 1st December 2007. An exhibition, at Ceredigion Museum, of superb 19th century agricultural smocks plus examples from the revival in smocking from the 1930s.
An exhibition, at Ceredigion Museum, of superb 19th century agricultural smocks plus examples from the revival in smocking from the 1930s. 20th October until 1st December 2007
Ceredigion Museum, Aberystwyth is hosting a touring exhibition from Hereford Museum and Art Gallery which gives us an opportunity to look closely at the art and craft of smocks and smocking from the Borders and Wales.
Both Michael Freeman, curator, and Gwenllian Ashley, assistant curator, at Ceredigion Museum have been working towards a closer study of garments and textiles during the past few months. Michael has been researching traditional Welsh Costume and will be creating a special display at the Ceredigion Museum in 2008, while Gwenllian has been looking at the textile tradition across a wider landscape.
Gwenllian explains the background to the Smocks display which is being shown at Ceredigion Museum over the next few weeks, 'We are very pleased to be able to display some of the finest examples of smocking from the Hereford. I was visiting the Hereford Museum while touring one of our own shows of traditional Welsh Quilts and I thought it would be a great opportunity to bring these examples to Aberystwyth. Luckily Hereford were keen too lend the items.' Some examples from Ceredigion Museum's collection will also be on display.
These very beautiful embroidered garments were first developed as a practical solution to the needs of mainly agricultural workers in the eighteenth and nineteenth Centuries. The smocks were worn over other clothes for protection from dirt and weather.
Gwenllian went on to say, 'The earliest examples of smocks were of plain linen, but smocking was developed as a technique to provide a better fit and to stretch across the chest.'
The exhibition includes examples of decorative embroidery and Gwenllian adds, 'Embroidery followed as a way of personalising the garment. Different motifs were associated with different areas. Teardrops and interlaced hearts were common on garments from Wales.'
The changing agricultural environment of the mid nineteenth century led to the demise of the smock as a practical garment. Greater mechanism in farming made it an active hazard with the dangers of getting caught in moving machinery parts.
'But there was a revival in smocking,' added Gwenllian. 'As parts of the Arts and Crafts Movement there was a move to copy these beautiful hand made examples. But as a technique it was never again used on men's working garments. Smocking was often found on children's clothes even up into the 1960s.'