Opus Anglicanum means English work, and this embroidery was sought after, for good reason. Maureen sent me a brief article about a recent show at the V&A in London. I dare say there aren’t many textile artists and embroiderers who aren’t familiar with medieval Opus Anglicanum work. It’s quite clear why it was so sought after, and much of the work survives in dazzling glory. I know someone who does this type of work exclusively, and the name of their blog is opusanglicanum. Now, I have no doubt, that to many people, this would be a dry, dusty subject. That’s fine, no one is obligated to ooh and aah over everything.
English work was highly sought after by the royalty, as it were, of religions. Much of the work that survives today is religious garments for high ups in a church, these certainly weren’t garments for your bog standard monk or priest. The Toledo Cope is just one example of not just stunning hand work, but the wide and rich array of story telling done one a single ceremonial cloak:
I could go on about this, it’s an amazing part of history, but I’ll let everyone choose their reading and oohing and aahing. Oh, I do want to mention they have a special event today I’d love to go to, about the Game of Thrones Hardhome Embroidery. They also have curator talks, workshops, and symposia as well as the exhibition. I could stay lost in there for weeks, I suspect. http://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/opus-anglicanum-masterpieces-of-english-medieval-embroidery
All that excitement, all that vibrant history, all that amazing art work, and yet, one reviewer found it all rather terrible, because the emphasis wasn’t on Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Seems you can’t appreciate medieval art work of any kind unless you’re under the thrall of religion, which makes it all blossom forth, because really, the art is only so so without the added power of god. Pretty sure I don’t need to detail my opinion about that. Mr. Jones also seems to be of the rather odd opinion that it’s obvious the god stuff is so much better, because “mysteriously”, it’s the religious garments which survived the best, whereas few secular pieces survived well. *Coughs* Well, that would be because ceremonial garments weren’t worn all that often, and they were scrupulously taken care of, and stored very carefully in between wearings. After a religious person, such as a bishop, died, those garments were usually whisked off to a museum or other careful storage. There’s no goddish mystery there. The equally stunning and richly embroidered work done for kings and their courts, well, regardless of how splendid, they were every day clothes for those people. Naturally, they were going to see more wear, especially if people were in the habit of dashing off to war in said clothes. I also imagine there were more opportunities for theft in the vastness of royal courts.
Ah well, each to their own. Mr. Jones can wax on about god, while I’ll continue to be absolutely fascinated by the art work produced by those medieval hands.