Friday 3 July 2009

Motifs on Ackworth Samplers - the Passionflower

Imagine a life without television, films, magazines, coffee-table books, street posters, photographs - quite devoid of of all the visual stimulus to which we are now accustomed - and perhaps 'deaf' to. Where would you go for visual inspiration? To what would you turn for design ideas?
Nature is an obvious example, but on rainy days, perhaps there is something a little closer to hand - the dining room plates. Here is a plate which echos the passionflower seen on some of the Ackworth School samplers. Of all the motifs on samplers they are amongst the most difficult to chart. And what is the symbolism of the passionflower? As a child I remember being taken through the botanical details and how the numbers of its composition corresponded to the trinity, the number of the apostles etc. It was like a rosary, a religious aide-memoire. Perhaps something to meditate upon during those long, and frequently cold, daily, silent meetings when as a child you sat exposed to stern elders facing you across the room.


  1. Thank you so much for the historical information! I love learning about what these designs might have meant. I'm downloading Mary Wigham but I'm saving it for later as I'm knee deep in Sarah Moon! Barb(from Seattle)

  2. Love your blog! Interesting historical information.