Elizabeth Parker’s sampler at the V&A

Elizabeth Parker’s sampler, after 1830, Victoria & Albert Museum, Museum no. T.6-1956

The fashion historian Kate Strasdin informed me of Elizabeth Parker’s sampler at the Victoria & Albert Museum; thank you, Kate! On reading about it and reading the sampler itself it was clear to me why. What I see immediately in common with my UTS Library residency project is the significant discrepancy in the time it took Parker to write her sampler and the time it takes to read it. Our letter to 2117 (I am writing it with anyone who stops by to speak with me) will have taken approximately 500 hours by the time it is complete, yet, like Parker’s text, it will take mere minutes to read. I also wonder if the sampler ended as Parker had envisioned when she made the first stitches; the tone throughout is one of guilt and remorse so perhaps it did. As I said to a tour group from Afghanistan earlier this week, I have no idea how the letter will finish; it arises from the conversations I have at the Library. That said, I strive to have hope and optimism interwoven into the letter, managing my own cynicism and to some extent that of others.

As you can read on V&A’s site, Parker ended up living a long, and hopefully fulfilling, life. I can only hope that our letter survives the decades to come and that someone is around in 2117 to read it. That doubt must not stop us from writing it, nor stop us from changing whatever we see in the world in need of changing.

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