Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ros Tapestry in Co. Wexford

It's happening all the time, you think its a small country, that you know what's going on, generally, in the textile world. And then, bam, something comes out of the blue, totally shocks you, and all you can think about is "How on earth didn't I hear about this before?". This is the reason for this blog, to try and finally bring together the different textile skills in Ireland, so the weavers know what the embroiderers are doing, and the knitters with the felter's. For too long we have all been pigeoned-holed into our various textile crafts, and its time to join forces, and let each other know what is really going on around us. How could an ambitious textile project like this slip under my nose? And if you haven't heard about this extraordinary textile feat before, I am very proud to tell you now...

Last week, in the Irish Times, (Apr 4th), was a large photo of Countess Ann Griffin Bernsorff and her daughter, Anne. Artist and Project Co-ordinator for one of the most ambitious textile projects to happen in Ireland. They were photographed at the launch of The Ros Tapestry, a massive community initiative, which has just taken up permanent residence in the town of New Ross.

The Ros Tapestry is made up of fifteen hand-embroidered panels , each 6 x 4 foot . This ambitious project was started in 1998, when local clergyman, the Venerable Paul Mooney, was looking for a cultural and community focus for his church, St Mary's and for the town of New Ross. A committee was organised, and the project was mentored by Alexis Bernstorff, a textile restorer, and her artist mother, Ann Bernstorff (The Countess Bernstorff).

The painstaking and time-consuming needlework was entirely carried out by volunteers who came together from several counties, in different venues each week.

The Ros Tapestries depicts events around the Anglo-Norman arrival in 1169 to the South East of Ireland, specifically the founding of the town of New Ross, Co. Wexford by William Marshall and Isabel de Clare. The content for these tapestry panels was exhaustively researched and designed by Anne Bernstorff, and is now, one of the largest tapestries of its kind in Europe.

According to the Irish Times article, it has already attracted world interest, the US Ambassador to Ireland, Jean Kennedy-Smith, has asked for some of the tapestries to be shipped to Washington in 2011 for the 50th anniversary of Joh F Kennedy's inauguration. (His great-great-great-grandfather was from New Ross).

Not wanting to breach copyright, I can't post photos of the tapestries without permission, but please, take a look at the website, and see this amazing textile work. It is now, definitely, on my list of places to visit this summer. What a breath of fresh air in these recessionary times. That a community would band together, taking over 10 years, to create something that will be treasured and admired, it is inspiring.

The town of New Ross, and the people of Wexford must be very proud of their womenfolk (and the one man)!

Ros Expo
Priory Court
The Quay
New Ross

Phone & Fax: 353 51 445396

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