Rozsika Parker: The Subversive Stitch

Parker R 1984, The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the making of the feminine, London

“Embroidery also has a place in the feminist effort to transform the conditions of art practice, the relationship of artist to audience and the definitions of what constitutes art. Because embroidery is an extremely popular hobby, and a skill taught in schools, it is considered by many to be a more accessible medium, reaching a wider audience than painting.” p 208

For women today, the contradictory and complex history of embroidery is important because it reveals that definitions of sexual difference, and the definitions of art and artist so weighted against women, are not fixed. They have shifted over the centuries, and they can be transformed in the future.” p 215

This book tracks embroidery and its relationship to a woman’s role over the last few hundred years. I have focused on the last chapter which discusses embroidery in the context of the time the book was written, in 1984. This chapter has a feminist focus and discusses a range of ways embroidery was used in the feminist art sphere, whilst highlighting that it was still also practiced at home as a domestic craft for homemaking. I have no plans to take my work down a feminist path but am interested in the author’s suggestion that use of women dominated techniques helps to break down barriers to the engagement in the art world by being more accessible than other mediums.

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