English social history is one of my passions. Currently I’m reading a book entitled England Under the Stuarts by G.M. Trevelyan published by The Folio Society. In a chapter called “State of England” he delves into the lives of the people in great detail. Much of it makes me thankful that I live today. However, when reading the following I realized how much many of us, as human beings, may be missing.
“(Something must be said) of certain general conditions of life which may have had influence on imagination. The most obvious of these was the perpetual contact of man, in the ordinary course of his work and recreation, with the force and beauty of nature.
The ungarnished streets….were yet neither ugly nor monotonous to the eye but were varied with every kind of gable and projection, decorated on the house fronts with oak carving and over the doors with quaint signs. In each village, oak furniture for farm and cottage was carved into pleasing forms, which now win the admiration of connoisseurs. The commonest objects – the family coach, the beer jug, the lintel of the door, the sign that hung over it – had a touch of natural taste, and often of true artistic effort.”
Man, I believe, is a natural creator and inventor. It’s in our nature. Homo Faber – man, the creator. The drive to create is strong in those of us who stitch. Why, otherwise, would we spend countless hours with our threads? We need to express who we are and what we value by making something, not buying something. Perfect or flawed, the things we create have in them natural taste and artistic endeavor. We strive to contribute to the natural beauty of the world by creating something.
To see first hand the ‘natural taste and artistic effort’ of the Stuart period in embroidery, visit the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. The photographs are extraordinary.
These gloves are from 1620-1640.They are almost 400 years old. They have been cherished and kept safe for almost 400 years. Judging from the number of mittens and gloves in the lost and found at our school, I would say it will be unlikely that any gloves from today will still be around in 400 years! We value the mass produced things we have so little that when things are lost, no one claims them.
It seems to me that when people get too far from nature, too removed from their creative drive, too busy, they often cope by buying something. They acquire a thing and hope it will bring them the same satisfaction as creating the thing. It usually fails. Is this perhaps why so many homes are full of things that no one loves, no one uses and no one cherishes? So much of what we have in our homes has been mass produced. The ‘natural taste and artistic effort’ are missing. Common objects have little, if any, unique style. Too many houses really do look the same. Is this because we no longer have contact with the force and beauty of nature? Is it because we have lost our sense of place within the natural world?