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Screen with scenes from the conquest of Mexico - Aztec musicians and dancers in a canoe

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New World tapestry, Bristol

Bristol and the New World

The world’s largest tapestry is currently on exhibition in Bristol - one of many rich educational links the city offers to the New World. The unique embroidery is on display at the British Empire & Commonwealth Museum until the end of November 2006. (Written/compiled by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

American History in stitches - the world’s largest tapestry comes to Bristol
American History in stitches - the world’s largest tapestry comes to Bristol (Click on image to enlarge)

The Tapestry tells the story of England’s attempts to settle the Americas in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It is an embroidery on an epic scale; the tapestry took 20 years to complete, there are 24 panels each measuring 11ft by 4ft and nearly 39,000,000 stitches were worked by 256 embroiderers. It is larger than the Bayeux Tapestry. The project was conceived by West Country professional artist Tom Mor, who, with many helpers, meticulously researched and designed all the elements of the story. HRH Prince Charles added the final stitch to The New World Tapestry in March 2000.

The New World Tapestry depicts some of the dramatic events of the era
The New World Tapestry depicts some of the dramatic events of the era (Click on image to enlarge)

The figures of the tapestry are rendered in an unmistakably modern, cartoon-like style, but it also follows in the tradition of Tudor and Jacobean canvas work embroidery. The panels are worked in gobelin stitch which entirely covers the ground, and along with pictures of the main scenes of the story, the panels also feature birds, animals, flowers and insects all beautifully worked in bold colours.

Visit before the end of November 2006!
Visit before the end of November 2006!

Ten of these tapestry panels have been carefully selected by the British Empire & Commonwealth Museum for display within its special exhibition, Pow Wow, which tells the story of England’s earliest attempts to colonise North America.

Note: The Museum closed in 2008. Follow the link below for more recent information...

‘British Empire & Commonwealth Museum collection remains in storage

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