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Vault

  • Installation image

    Courtesy Wild Family and Private Collectors
  • Installation image

    Courtesy Wild Family and Private Collectors
  • Installation image

    Courtesy Wild Family and Private Collectors
  • Installation image

    Courtesy Wild Family and Private Collectors
  • Installation image

    Courtesy Wild Family and Private Collectors
  • Installation image

    Courtesy Wild Family and Private Collectors
  • Installation image

    Courtesy Wild Family and Private Collectors
  • Installation image

    Courtesy Wild Family and Private Collectors
  • Installation image

    Courtesy Wild Family and Private Collectors
  • Installation image

    Courtesy Private Collector, Auckland
  • Installation image

    Courtesy Private Collector, Auckland
  • Installation image

    Courtesy Private Collector, Auckland

Sample of Samplers

30 June 2012 - 18 August 2012

Wild Family and Private Collectors

What we recognise as a sampler emerged in sixteenth century England. Samplers at this time were made by wealthy women as reference guides of particular stitches, motifs and border designs at a time when pattern books were rare. Needlework for members of the leisured classes was an essential social accomplishment and for others needlework proficiency was a means of economic survival. 
  
The seventeenth century is often seen as the high point for samplers because of the quality of the needlework and the originality of designs. During the eighteenth century the character of samplers changed from being the work of highly skilled adult needleworkers to most frequently being specimens of basic needlework proficiency completed, often in school settings, principally by girls but sometimes by boys. While needlework was still an essential element of a girl's education samplers came to include other aspects of education including religion, geography, mathematics and language. These dimensions are demonstrated by the presence of maps and multiplication tables that sat alongside personal information such as depictions of family and home. In the nineteenth century samplers made by residents of schools, but particularly orphanages, were straight forward advertisements of the proficiency of their maker who would often be aiming for a domestic service position. Orphanage samplers are generally very plain in terms of general style, often using just one colour of thread - red being a favourite - but dense in terms of examples of the competency of the maker. Not uncommonly such samplers bore the address of the maker. 

The antique works in this installation are from a private collection having been acquired in New Zealand and being predominantly English in origin. The collectors observe that as many generations of women and girls have stitched samplers over the centuries, antique examples regularly come up for sale in salerooms even though they have often are been considered family heirlooms. 

The new works exhibited were made in Auckland by the late Patricia Wild, as gifts and future heirlooms, for her children and grandchildren. She was possibly of one of the last generations of New Zealand women who received instruction at school in needlework, for which she won prizes. Like the sampler makers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but unlike the sampler makers of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Patricia Wild's samplers are the leisure work of an adult maker. Her first sampler was made around 1990 and in the main, new works were made for presentation on a grandchild's fifth birthday. Working with traditional sampler motifs she aimed to represent aspects of the recipient's character and interests in her design. 

While the samplers exhibited are made centuries apart - in the eighteenth, nineteenth and late twentieth centuries - it is quite possible to discern the presence of common motifs. Irrespective of date, the samplers in this installation are objects of sentiment and skill that embody conceptions of home, family and hope for the future.