Embroidery: Oppression to Expression

17 Jun 2021 – 25 Sep 2021
An exhibition featuring embroidery from across four centuries, at David Roche Foundation House Museum, Adelaide

Embroidery: Oppression to Expression showed a range of survivalist samplers made by artists and makers across Australia as part of the #survivalistsampler project.

From March 2020, propelled by the pandemic, the #survivalistsampler project began as a callout on social media by artist Sera Waters and grew into a collective and community-based project enabling stitching together at a distance. Dozens of individuals, across Australia and beyond, responded using needle-worked sampling to record their individual responses to challenges borne of the pandemic as they emerged in real-time. Many #survivalistsampler stitchers expressed they were thinking of other stitchers, of their forebears, of their future generations, while stitching. They stitched words coined in 2020, ‘unprecedented’ or ‘wear masks’, and they stitched their individual experiences, perspectives and details that often get lost from documented histories. You could be mistaken for thinking these are small domestic acts, carried out at home to appease an individual’s anxiety. And they are. But they are also activist in their vision to operate outside the fast-paced consumerist systems currently governing this planet. #survivalistsampler, as a community project, preserve knowledge for survival, pass along textile skills, offer respite from dystopian realities, and share practical tactics for negotiating impending crisis in their recreation of patterns, paces, and care-based practices inherited from long ago.


#survivalistsamplers as pictured in Embroidery: Oppression to Expression. From top left: Caitlin Bowe, Kay Lawrence (centre apron), Wendy Muir (top right), Sera Waters (bottom right) and Leonie Andrews (bottom left).


Artworks in Exhibition

Survivalist Sampler #2
2020-21, cotton on repurposed linen, dimensions variable