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04 November 2021

Inspiration in lockdown

Inspiration in lockdown

Inspired in lockdown by Puujee Davaasambuu                                                                        

As a volunteer at Wisbech & Fenland Museum I found inspiration for my own creative practice duing lockdown in the Museum's collection of Samplers. Looking through the collections at Wisbech & Fenland Museum I can feel some solidarity with the makers whether they were making for pleasure, simply to pass the time away or as a creative outlet during a restricted life. What I discovered was a range of embroidery, samplers and stitching that each tell their own story and some prompt questions from the viewer and I have curated a selection of these for this blog.                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Why is craft so important?

Craft connects people because it can be inspiring, mindful and creativity makes you feel good. It’s a great use of time and it’s the best feeling to share craft with others.

Craft and making is important to me. Through lockdown craft and making has made a difference, lockdown is restrictive, but it gave me time to be creative and in being creative I found an outlet from the restriction of lockdown. Making kept my mind engaged and busy.

Samplers in the collection

Samplers are embroidered stories produced in cross stitch, often to a pre-prepared standardised design and might include a name, year, letters of the alphabet are popular and a selection of motifs.

WISFM : CS470 Alphanumeric sampler made by Amy May Simpole, dated 10 March 1853


WISFM : CS198 Sampler made by Mary Peyton in 1748. An alphanumeric sampler with 1-18 worked in silk with motto, strip of hearts border, central conifer tree and crowded letters; made by Mary Peyton, in the 9th year of her age', 1748.


Often samplers document the lives of the maker. When you view a sampler, you are seeing the creative process – how they were made - and you feel a link with the history of the sampler, with the person who made it. You think about why were they making it? What was happening in their lives at the time? The samplers give a sense of the history of that time. I find that the design and pattern, use of colour and the context and meaning appeals to me and is a source of inspiration.


Within the collection at Wisbech & Fenland Museum are examples of samplers depicting religious scenes, versions of maps, charting and promoting a view of empire, some were made by schoolchildren, some are commemorative and some convey moral messages. All in all, they tell us as much about the time and reflect the interests and ideas of the period they were made as they do about the person who made them.


WISFM : CS194 'Great Talkers needs no enemies, wise men speaks little, and hear much' made by Thomesin Johnson Kelsey July 31 1815



WISFM : CS200 'A Token of Love 1797', maker unknown



WISFM : 1971.30.5 Commemorative sampler made to memorialise the Coronation of George VI. Made by Murial Dawbarn in 1937



WISFM : CS464 framed embroidery showing a rural scene, maker unknown.

WISFM : CS.201 Rural scene of cutting corn, maker unknown.


WISFM : 1979.55 Sample made by Hannah Elizabth Coulson dated 26 November 1884 while attending Rings End School


WISFM : CS.461 Tapestry sampler showing a horse and rider and a palm tree, maker unknown


WISFM : 1971.30.9 England - Australia Air Race made by Murial Dawbarn c. 1934

WISFM : 1971.30.8 Map of Enland and Wales by Muial Dawbarn, 1930s. This was shown at exhibitions in our region and these are noted on the back of the frame, 'Norwich Ex 1934 Highly commende Bedford Red x 1936 Royal a... Ex 1937'

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