As I said before, I'm not terribly good at remembering names, but sometimes I don't recognise the speaker because I have genuinely not heard of them before. Actually, I like it when the speaker is a complete revelation to me, as was our speaker this month. I have a very vague recollection of having seen a picture of her work, perhaps in the blurb for the Knitting and Stitching show when her work was selected by the Embroiderers Guild to exhibit within the 'graduate showcase' in July 2007. Other than that Jill Flower and her ruffs came as a complete surprise.
At the end of the evening, I heard Jill say that it was only the third time she had given a talk. I think that was evident and endearing. While she was slightly less confident than more seasoned speakers, this gave her talk a very human quality. Jill gave us a brief overview of her early interest in stitched textiles, which began over 20 years ago, included achieving City and Guilds part I/II in 1995 and being selected to exhibit an elaborate and brightly coloured handbag at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2003.
Jill then gave us a detailed insight into the thoughts and experimentation that went into deciding the subject for her final exhibition piece. An interest in lace and edgings, eventually lead Jill to the idea of combining the formality of Elizabethan ruffs with Shakespeare’s speech 'the seven ages of man' from his play 'As you like it'.
Jill's exhibition comprises of three ruffs representing man, women and child. The two 'adult' ruffs are constructed of seven layers of 'lace' made from magazines that might interest and influence each generation, Beano for a small boy, Cosmopolitan for a young women followed by Bride then House and Home, Financial Times for a maturing male and finally the Obituaries. Jill carefully crafted appropriate colours, words, and images from the magazines so that the ruffs have a feminine or masculine quality.
The third ruff represents a child and is constructed of a lacy paper fabric containing the words written by Shakespeare.
From a distance the ruffs are impressive and easily identified as Man, Woman and Child. Close up, the lace, with its button and bead embellishment is delightful. I think the ruffs are inspired and found Jill's talk inspiring.