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From May 2017, the Broadway Museum & Art Gallery will host an exhibition of embroidered clothing from the Ashmolean Museum revealing many hidden gems from its collections. The Ashmolean Museum houses thousands of textiles, and Embroidered Bodies will display a selection of clothing from these rich collections, including an eighteenth-century Englishman’s waistcoat through to a Japanese coat from the opening years of the twentieth century. The exhibition takes you on a journey through Egypt, the Greek Islands, Saudi Arabia, Central Asia, Pakistan, India and China.

Embroidered Bodies has been curated by Aimée Payton, Eastern Art Administrator at the Ashmolean Museum. She said: “We have some stunning embroideries in our stores, many of which have never been on display before so I am very excited to share these wonderful pieces with visitors to The Broadway Museum.”

There are hundreds of different ways to make an embroidery stitch. Some techniques, such as chain stitch, are universal and mastered by embroiderers everywhere. Others are often only found in specific countries. The stitches chosen can be our first clue in revealing the story of each garment. Delicate stitches exquisitely depict animals, flowers, people, and patterns that can provide fascinating information about the wearer.

Aimée added: “I am fascinated by how much the choice of stitches can tell us so much. Stitches can help identify where something was made, who wore it, and often why. I am drawn to garments that do not seem to fit the story exactly as they usually have a complicated story. Maybe they were made for a traveller, for the export market, or have been altered to update the style. 

Asked about what was her favourite piece in the exhibition Aimée said: “I think one of my favourites is a Chinese robe, also called an Ao. It is decorated all over with quirky cranes which look like they are dancing. This informality is unusual for Ao designs but there are a few similar examples in other museums.”

Embroidered Bodies tells many stories, giving an insight into how these beautifully stitched garments would have been made and worn. Come and discover the threads of the tales within the stitches and unravel the meaning behind the embroidered garments for yourselves!

If you visit the museum during May you will also have the opportunity to see a display of Roman coins which are part of the Bredon Hoard discovered in Worcestershire in 2011. A talk will place at the museum at 7pm on 18th May providing more information on the hoard.

The exhibition runs until 10th September 2017. Normal admission charges apply: Adults £.5.00 (16+) Family £10.00 Children (5-15 years): £2 Under 5s free. For more information on the exhibition or talks telephone 01386 859047 or email: