The Thread of Life

27 September 2011 – 25 October 2011

From earliest antiquity to the present day, artists have depicted women spinning, weaving and sewing indicating their intimate association with textile arts. But how close is this to reality? Why does the image persist in the face of social change? Is the distaff an emblem of empowerment or imprisonment? Using examples that range from the Paleolithic Venus of Willendorf to Vermeer’s Lacemaker and today’s mass media we unpick the tangled threads of this ubiquitous motif and explore its complex range of meanings.