People have been using Art and Craft over centuries as a career, to protest, comfort, heal, teach, support, clothe, keep records, hide messages, claim their voices and tell their stories. These skills cannot be lost or forgotten, because it is part of our history and is interwoven and ingrained in our culture and as an artist and designer with a love for textiles, it is my passion and purpose to help keep them alive.
Mary, Queen of Scots – The Stewart Clan
I grew up with the story that my Scottish grandmother was related to Mary, Queen of Scots 1542 – 1587, otherwise known as Mary Stuart or Mary 1 of Scotland.
Despite not truly knowing it’s validity – it doesn’t really matter – It could be just a neat story that was told, in my search of empowered and mystical women, I am studying her through my artwork. Often these women in power were oppressed and/or controlled and in Mary and her cousin Queen Elizabeth 1’s case, they were pitted against each other, I believe possibly because men were afraid of what powerful women working together would have meant for them. A story throughout the ages that unfortunately continues. My pieces on this subject help me to understand the progression of women’s rights are still needed in today’s time, how little we have progressed and how to personally excel forward as an empowered woman.
As an Artist and Designer with a passion for textile work, I was enamoured to find that she herself was an embroiderer and created hauntingly beautiful pieces during her time of captivity – for 19 years – the Prison Embroideries, with messages sewn into her work, as has been done throughout history.
I’m working on several pieces related to her and one I just completed was this self portrait called Descendants. I chose to use the motto from the central panel in the Marian hanging to put in her belt representing the ribbon – Virescit Vulnere Virtus – that is actually used in the Stuart – or now Stewart Clan Crest before knowing it’s full significance to my quest to study women from the past or perhaps to find this correlation to perhaps even myself.
Virescit Vulnere Virtus translates to Courage grows strong at a wound.
The Stewart Clan Crest shows a pelican, not a native bird to Scotland, but in any case, she is feeding her babies in the nest.
For an interesting read on the meaning of the pelican and the perceived wound on her breast, here’s a great article:
I found the deepest connection with this meaningful crest, having had breast cancer and a literal wound on my breast from it.
You have to see these beautiful panels for yourself! For more information on these over 400 year old embroidered panels, with a selection now displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, visit V&A Museum – Prison Embroideries of Mary Queen of Scots
My original painting is not up for sale at the moment, but I do sell digital downloads of the original in my shop if this piece speaks to you.