A new exhibition documenting the history of the linen production in Ireland has opened alongside the phenomenally successful Game of Thrones tapestry at the Ulster Museum. The 80-metre long Game of Thrones Bayeux-style tapestry, commissioned by Tourism Ireland in partnership with Tourism Northern Ireland to celebrate the television programme and its unique contribution to Northern Ireland’s heritage, was installed in July in the Ulster Museum and has already been viewed by over 72,000 visitor
Warp and Weft places the tapestry, an example of contemporary jacquard weaving using linen yarn, in the context of images and objects from the collections of National Museums NI, and provides an overview of some of the processes and skills used to create linen during the last 125 years. A group of eight framed watercolour prints, first published by William Hincks in the late 1780s, depict the various stages in growing flax, spinning and weaving linen for market. Photographs, which include some images from Robert Welch from the early 1900s, document some of the last days of hand skills and the move towards an age of power-driven manufacture.
The exhibition also features three framed linen tableaux and a framed sample of monogram embroidery. Valerie Wilson, Curator of Textiles at National Museums NI, said: “The Game of Thrones tapestry has been a huge draw for visitors to the Ulster Museum and we’re so pleased to introduce an exciting new aspect to the visitor experience with the opening of Warp and Weft.
“Warp and Weft uses our own collections at National Museums NI to tell the wider story of linen production in Ireland, highlighting the rich heritage of craft skills in the making of the fabric, documenting some of the last days of hand skills and the move towards the use of machinery in its manufacture.
“Warp is the term used to describe the yarn on a loom, stretched from front to back. The Weft yarns are those carried on bobbins which pass through the warp to create fabric. Warp and Weft tells the story of linen, the ‘Queen’ of fabrics - from the sowing of seeds to the sewing of seams.”
A programme of talks and demonstrations is also planned The Warp and Weft exhibition and Game of Thrones tapestry will run at the Ulster Museum until Monday 27 August 2018. Admission is free. For more information visit www.nmni.com