Our textiles collection ranges in date from the eighteenth century to the present day. It is a new collection, since our former collection, apart from the eighteenth century tapestries and the 'Lennox Quilt', was destroyed in the fire following the 1976 bombing of the house in which it was then stored. We collect
- Linen Damask and domestic linen
- Printed Textiles
- Contemporary textiles, mostly wall pieces
Our historic tapestries are a seventeenth century Flemish 'Verdure' tapestry, a vividly coloured 'Arabesque' tapestry, c1725 by Joshua Morris and a set of the series 'Pilgrimage to Mecca' by Paul Saunders. Louis le Brocquy's 'Adam and Eve', 1953 is our major contemporary tapestry.
All types of Irish laces - needlepoint, pillow, embroidered net and crochet - are represented. See also the collections of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. Most types of English lace are represented. The continental collection is not a comprehensive collection but we have many very fine examples, especially of 18th century French lace
Our most important and spectacular embroidery collection is of 18th century bedcovers and other items of 'bed furniture' (pillow covers, valances etc) mostly by named Irish embroideresses. It includes some of our most beautiful textile pieces, such as the Lennox Quilt of 1712, made in Belfast; the Delany Bedcover, one of the few complete pieces of embroidery by the talented Mrs Delany, friend of writers and royalty, whose correspondence gives a vivid picture of 18th century life; and the McDonnell Bed Furniture, made by or for Lady Helena McDonnell, sister of the 5th Earl of Antrim.
Other areas of collection are samplers and sample books, from the late 18th and 19th centuries (see also the collections of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum) and embroidered pictures of the late 18th and 19th century. Contemporary embroidery is a developing area of collection. We hold examples of most types of contemporary embroidery practice including patchwork, machine and hand embroidery. There are some good examples of Chinese, Japanese, Indian and central Asian work. Many pieces in our dress collection are also decorated with fine embroidery.
Linen damask and domestic linen
The Irish Linen Centre, Lisburn Museum, now holds the biggest collection of linen damask in Northern Ireland but we have good examples of Irish and continental damask. We have a small collection of most types of domestic linen and textiles.
This small area of collection includes two of our most important textile pieces. These are the 'Volunteer Quilt', made from copper-plate printed furnishing fabric in Dublin at Thomas Harpur's Drumcondra printworks, which depicts the Provincial Review of the Irish Volunteers in Phoenix Park in 1782, and the Matisse Wall Hangings. The screen-printed wall hangings, 'Oceanie - La Mer' and 'Oceanie - Le Ciel' designed by Henri Matisse for Zika Ascher in 1946,are based on 'decoupe' work and are the first large scale examples of what would be the defining style of his old age. They were printed in Belfast .
We are building up a collection of contemporary textile pieces, showing the wide variety of materials and techniques in practice today.
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