Thursday, 16 July 2009

Crisis at the Embroiderers' Guild

The Embroiderers' Guild was founded in 1906 by sixteen former students of the Royal School of Art Needlework to represent the interests of embroidery. The aims and objectives of the Guild
"To promote and encourage the art of embroidery and related crafts and encourage the creation of fine articles incorporating the use of or associated with embroidery.
To educate the public in the history and art of embroidery and to undertake or support research in that subject and to publish the useful results of that research.
To collect, document, preserve, exhibit and interpret, examples of fine embroidery which are of historical or educational merit and to make available to the public such articles."

In 1924 HM Queen Mary became the Guild's first Royal Patron. Most recently HRH the Duchess of Gloucester graciously became the Guild's Royal Patron in 2005, following the death of HRH the Princess Alice in October 2004. On 8th May 1964 the Guild became a Registered Charity and in 1986 Registered Museum Status was achieved in recognition of the standard of management applied to its collection embroideries. The collection is of national significance as a resource for artists and students. It consists of over 11,000 world embroideries dating from the Coptic period to the present day, and includes a major collection of British embroidery.

The Guild also has a collection of over 2,500 titles including 600 reference books available to both Embroiderers' Guild Members and the public within the library and 2,000 loan books (temporarily suspended) which provide a rich source of research material for students and members.

In 2006, a century after its founding, the Guild had over 25,000 Members and subscribers throughout the world, 236 Branches and 85 Young Embroiderers Groups for young Members aged between 5 - 18 years.

Today the Embroiderers' Guild is in crisis.

For the past 25 years the Embroiderers' Guild has been located in apartments at Hampton Court Palace, Surrey. In recent years great effort and resource was dedicated to establishing a National Embroidery and Textile Centre but following an exhaustive review of the proposed NET Centre, the Trustees established that the project posed an unacceptable risk to the long-term future of the Guild and decided to withdraw project. Vast sums of money gathered by years of fund raising were lost. The Embroiderers' Guild licence at Hampton Court is due to expire imminently. The Embroiderers' Guild, its collection and its library face the very real prospect of becoming homeless by the end of this year.

Given the current economic situation, is the fate of a charity concerned entirely with embroidery and textiles significant?

Does all responsibility for preserving such a collection and resource lay in the hand of the membership, or is it of sufficient social and historical value that Government or the likes of the Heritage Lottery Fund should assist in it's preservation?

Is there an historical building, themselves struggling to survive, that might benefit from a partnership with the Guild? How do we find them?

9 comments:

Christine said...

Hi, I'm quite shocked to read this, I had no idea this has been allowed to happen. In Australia we are able to apply for Arts Ministry grants to further our aims, but not to purchase premises. I like the idea of an historic property being made available to you, I hope the Committee will persue this. Will be watching the outcome with great interest as we in Sydney have outgrown the Guild headquarters, but with only 2000 members we don't have the potential to raise funds that you have in UK. We are debating at the moment whether to try to extend or buy elsewhere, or lease premises somewhere. Sounds like leasing is the least attractive option in both our cases. I wish the UK Guild well. Our Guild was modeled on the UK Guild and we may face the same dilemma in the future. The Collection and the Library need to be kept for the future, and the education programme is extremely important and so necessary.
Christine

Terry said...

This is just awful news and such a shock, it like saying the PM needs to move out of Downing street and take up residence in a council flat in Croydon (no offence meant towards Croydon) Is there a petition for us to sign or somewhere we can voice our opinions and concerns when you think of all the money that is paid out to the Tate Modern which houses a load of in my opinion rubbish surely there must be somewhere or somebody that will help.

I know if it moves out of London then it will make it more difficult for many overseas visitors to go there but it might be an option or perhaps 'HM' will let it be housed at Windsor

Anonymous said...

Oh to win the lottery :-) I think it is awful that this is happening why can't we have money, bet money would be found if it was a sport, Olympics ?? A lot of the embroidery you see is part of our history and not only do we gain but vistors to the UK do as well and I bet they pay to see these things, were does that money go to?? I agree with Terry. Will talk to you soon Sue N XXX

Magpie Sue said...

Would it be possible for the V&A Museum to take the collection and reference books in, either temporarily or permanently? It would appear to be a good fit (as I look in on this from across the pond).

BJ said...

It seems that the EGA is in a similar position. Having to downsize and move. I am deeply troubled being new to the EGA and a faithful subscriber of Embroidery from the EG.

I am praying for a solution to come for both.

zetor said...

Terrible news, I hope a new 'home' is found soon.

Gina E. said...

I am also shocked to hear about this, Carol Anne. I have only just read your post on Stitchin Fingers, and came over here to learn more about it. I can't believe the English government at any level would allow the Guild collection to disappear without trace; surely there will be someone up high who can pull some strings to sort this issue out in the long term.
In Melbourne, our Guild is very fortunate to have invested money years ago into it's own 'home' in an inner Melbourne suburb. I wasn't around at that time, but there was a massive fund raising drive to raise the necessary funds, and in view of the price of the property now, the Guild made the right decision back then.

Amanda said...

This is simply dreadful. Can I suggest contacting a high profile celebrity to take up the cause? Vivienne Westwood springs to mind - or maybe Gok Wan? In the meantime, readers in the UK should write to their MP and ask them to table a question to the Rt Hon Ben Bradshaw, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. Minister at DCMS.

Amanda said...

Having left my previous comment, I have just emailed my own MP with the following text and suggest you do the same. You can simply copy and paste the text. If you don't know who your MP is, you can find out at http://www.parliament.uk/mpslordsandoffices/index.cfm. My email read as follows:-

The Embroiderers' Guild was founded in 1906 by sixteen former students of the Royal School of Art Needlework to represent the interests of embroidery. The aims and objectives of the Guild

"To promote and encourage the art of embroidery and related crafts and encourage the creation of fine articles incorporating the use of or associated with embroidery.
To educate the public in the history and art of embroidery and to undertake or support research in that subject and to publish the useful results of that research.
To collect, document, preserve, exhibit and interpret, examples of fine embroidery which are of historical or educational merit and to make available to the public such articles."


In 1924 HM Queen Mary became the Guild's first Royal Patron. Most recently HRH the Duchess of Gloucester graciously became the Guild's Royal Patron in 2005, following the death of HRH the Princess Alice in October 2004. On 8th May 1964 the Guild became a Registered Charity and in 1986 Registered Museum Status was achieved in recognition of the standard of management applied to its collection embroideries. The collection is of national significance as a resource for artists and students. It consists of over 11,000 world embroideries dating from the Coptic period to the present day, and includes a major collection of British embroidery.

The Guild also has a collection of over 2,500 titles including 600 reference books available to both Embroiderers' Guild Members and the public within the library and 2,000 loan books (temporarily suspended) which provide a rich source of research material for students and members.

In 2006, a century after its founding, the Guild had over 25,000 Members and subscribers throughout the world, 236 Branches and 85 Young Embroiderers Groups for young Members aged between 5 - 18 years.

Today the Embroiderers' Guild is in crisis.

For the past 25 years the Embroiderers' Guild has been located in apartments at Hampton Court Palace, Surrey. In recent years great effort and resource was dedicated to establishing a National Embroidery and Textile Centre but following an exhaustive review of the proposed NET Centre, the Trustees established that the project posed an unacceptable risk to the long-term future of the Guild and decided to withdraw project. Vast sums of money gathered by years of fund raising were lost. The Embroiderers' Guild licence at Hampton Court is due to expire imminently. The Embroiderers' Guild, its collection and its library face the very real prospect of becoming homeless by the end of this year.

What can be done to save this priceless resource? Please would you bring this issue to the attention of the Rt Hon Ben Bradshaw, Secretary of State at DCMS at your earliest convenience and I look forward to your early reply.