Our next Object Highlight was chosen by Andrea our Retail and Income Generation Officer and it is a rather interesting one at that:
‘WW2 POW Hand stitched tapestry cushions:
One of the real privileges of working at the museum is getting up close to beautiful things and finding out a little bit about their story, and these beautiful hand stitched tapestry cushions are one such item. They were kindly donated to us last autumn and have been perfectly cared for over the last seventy years.
During the Second World War, German Prisoners of War were detained locally. The British Red Cross would visit the camp to arrange educational activities bringing materials with them for projects such as these cushions, that are made from hessian and wool.
The patterns are so classic, the colours still strong and true, they would still look great in many modern-day interiors, and they are so well made.
I love them for the story they evoke, made during such a turbulent time in history when lives were disrupted and the world was chaotic, these cushions with their structured and ordered patterns bring comfort and symbolise hope for the future and better times ahead.
We don’t know much about the men who made them, maybe they were scared, possibly traumatised by their war experiences. Perhaps they were skilled tailors or craftsmen before war broke out, or maybe this was a new skill learnt during the long evenings of an English winter. Either way I think the cushions also symbolise the perennial therapeutic power of hand crafting that can help to soothe the soul, and the satisfaction that comes from creating something that’s useful and beautiful.