Joyce Petschek: Breaking the Pattern

November 6, 2017 -

American Joyce Petschek has been passionate about Bargello needlework for much of her life. Instead, however, of trying to preserve the history of this tradition within its rigid confines, she is ‘Breaking the Pattern’ and reinventing the genre.

Bargello is a type of needlepoint embroidery consisting of upright flat stitches laid in a mathematical pattern to create motifs. The name originates from a series of seventeenth-century chairs found in the Bargello Palace in Florence that have a ‘flame stitch’ pattern.

Joyce Petschek: Breaking the Pattern represents a unique opportunity to see Joyce’s exquisite textile art curated in a complete exhibition for the first time in Britain.

Having ‘broken the pattern’, Joyce— who now lives in Tuscany and London— hand stitches her designs primarily in silk threads to create works of intensely rich and luminous colour.

Using her intuition to create each new design, Joyce begins stitching without any preliminary sketch of the pattern itself. She often works on several pieces at a time, selecting her silk threads first and then stitching onto the canvas, always following her intuitive inspiration. This means that a new work can take from a few months to a year to complete.

In addition to unique wall textiles, Petschek has a special interest in reworking antique furniture, combining her designs with striking fabrics to give each piece an exceptional ‘out of time’ appearance.

Long renowned for its textile collection, the American Museum owns several examples of eighteenth-century flamed-stitched objects and will juxtapose these pieces with Joyce’s work throughout the manor house to create an immersive exhibition experience.

Richard Wendorf, Director of the American Museum, has said that ‘my colleagues and I are very much looking forward to hosting these two exhibitions at the same time.  Together they reflect much of what the Museum is all about: a vibrant look at an important period in Anglo-American cultural history (the jazz age) and a showcase for one of the most imaginative artists working in the textile world (Joyce Petschek).  We hope that these exhibitions will appeal to a wide range of the Museum’s visitors in 2017.’

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The American Museum in Britain opened to the public at Claverton Manor near Bath in 1961 with the aim of showcasing the achievements of Americans in the decorative arts and promoting Anglo-American understanding. It is the only museum outside the United States to showcase the decorative arts of America. The permanent collection includes more than two hundred historic American quilts, exceptional pieces of Shaker furniture, Native American objects, and two hundred historical maps of the New World starting from the twelfth century and stretching through the Renaissance.  The museum also has the most significant collection of American folk art in Europe.  Visitors can also explore the extensive grounds, which include an arboretum of American trees.


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