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The Crimson Thread of Kinship

Highlights: Panel six

Panel 6 of the embroidery
Panel six of the embroidery. Photo: George Serras.

The night sky

The night sky

Early in the process of developing the design for the Crimson Thread of Kinship, Sharon Peoples travelled overseas. Flying over Brazil at night, she decided that the southern sky would become the main background for the embroidery. Several years earlier, she had made small books of drawings of the night sky seen from suburbia, and she used these to develop her design.

'We loved the blue in panel six but there was a lot of stitching to fill the twill. We were blued out!' June Mickleburgh, embroiderer.

The night sky (detail). Photo: George Serras.

The needle

Needle with stitched thread

The end of the crimson thread loops through an embroidery needle, suggesting the work of creating history, and that the future is yet to be made.

'It talks about history as embroidering on the past, it's about a story and the embroidery of that story, the embellishment and what we do when we look retrospectively at events like Federation.' Sharon Peoples.

Needle with stitched thread (detail). Photo: George Serras.

The Federation star

The Federation star

The Commonwealth or Federation star represents the Federation of the Australian colonies in 1901. The star originally had six points, each denoting a state of the Commonwealth of Australia. In 1908 an additional point was added when Australia acquired the Territory of Papua, and three years later this seventh point came to represent the combined federal territories.

The Federation star (detail). Photo: George Serras.

Kitchen implements

Kitchen implements

Designer Sharon Peoples replaced some of the stars in the night sky with small domestic items.

Inspired by Margaret Wertheim's book, Pythagoras' Trousers, which explores how women had been excluded from sciences such as astronomy, Sharon wanted to connect women's lives with the enduring heavens.

The embroiderers tried to make the stars glow. They worked them in perle thread, a heavy twisted cotton, on top of the blue wool sky.

'It was a difficult part of the embroidery. The stars kept getting lost in the soft wool threads, and it was almost impossible to make the cup and saucer look like a cup and saucer!' Margaret Thompson, embroiderer.

Kitchen implements (detail). Photo: George Serras.

The Southern Cross

The Southern Cross

The Southern Cross, or Crux Australis, is a constellation of five main stars that form a kite-like shape. It is an element of Aboriginal cosmologies and a significant navigational feature of the Southern Hemisphere. It has often been used to represent Australia, appearing, for example, on the national flag.

The Southern Cross (detail). Photo: George Serras.