Watch - Eight-metre embroidery inspired by rubbish dump artwork takes shape
PUBLISHED: 17:13 07 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:13 07 February 2020
When Sheringham Museum manager Lisa Little was given a picture a local woman had found at a rubbish dump in the 1960s, it unlocked a puzzle she had been baffled by for years, and inspired a three-year project based on the work of famous fisherman artist John Craske.
Featuring a scene depicting Sheringham's historic lifeboat the Henry Ramey Upcher, the artwork was one half of a pair of intricately stitched embroideries created in the 1930s by Sheringham-born Craske.
"Because we had the companion piece showing the Augusta lifeboat at the museum, I immediately knew it was authentic," textile expert Ms Little said.
However, it wasn't the beauty of the work that captured her interest, but the fact that it could be safely removed from its frame.
This allowed her to see behind the canvas and discover the answer to a question she had been mulling over since coming up with the idea of creating an eight-metre-long embroidery panel inspired by Craske's work in 2016.
The scheme, which was launched at the end of last year, will see members of the museum's textile group embroider a canvas with a panoramic scene showing Sheringham seafront from the east beach towards Cromer, to the town's lifeboat Station to the west.
"We had held stitching trials to try to work out John Craske's technique, but it was only when we were able to look at the back of the picture that we were could see how he did it," Ms Little said.
The former Norfolk Museums Service assistant curator, whose own embroidery work includes stitched portraits of Sheringham fishermen including her great-great-grandfather, Elijah Farrow, sketched out the giant canvas using photos she took from a fishing boat owned by museum volunteer Jim Lingwood as a guide.
"It is quite an undertaking, but John Craske was an important part of Sheringham and what has been the biggest revelation about the project, is the fact that is has been so interactive and has brought the community together."
Stitches in time - Norfolk's fisherman artist
Born into a Sheringham fishing family in 1881, John Craske spent time in Dereham, and Grimbsby before being invalided out of the First World War with an abcess on the brain and "harmless mental stupour"
He then ran a fish shop with his wife Laura but, in 1920, he relapsed and, after spells in Blakeney and Wiveton, returned to Dereham, where he began creating 'woolies' - sailors' traditional embroidered pictures - from his sickbed, using whatever cast-offs of fabric and thread he could find.
After his watercolours and embroideries came to the attention of a London gallery owner in 1926, he went on to exhibit at a number of prestigious venues, with his work later also shown in America.
He died in 1943 from septicaemia. His work is now in numerous collections, including Dorset Museums Service, The Britten Pears Foundation, Sheringham Museum and Glaven Shell Museum, which owns Craske's much-admired panoramic embroidery, the Evacuation of Dunkirk.
The museum's textile group will be working on the embroidery project at the Forum, Norwich, from February 8-11, and at Sheringham Museum from February 15-22.
For more information, visit www.sheringhammuseum.co.uk
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