Adam the first man and progenitor of the human race, Eve wife of Adam and representative of the female sex in Eden a garden where they lived according to the Creation story of Genesis 2; a place of delight; a paradise.
Here we have it, the possibility for each and every one of us to conjure up the picture of a perfect world where beauty and harmony abounds and tranquillity rules over all living things and I wonder just how long it would take for the rest of humanity to destroy that dream. The apples would be left to rot for surely only peasants and those from Eastern European countries pick fruit. Modern man would have correctly surmised that within and beneath the garden there was much he could exploit in order to pay those fruit picker a minimum wage and still leave plenty to embellish the dull winter months with a few plastic flowers of his own design.
For many centuries the pictorial representation of Adam and Eve has been a particular favourite amongst those working a needle. A description of a manor house in King John’s time states that in the corner of a certain apartment stood a bed, the tapestry of which was enwrought with gaudy colours representing Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The fifteenth century poet H. Bradshaw describing the tapestry in the Abbey of Ely wrote:-
“The storye of Adam there was goodly wrought
And of his wyfe Eve, bytwene them the serpent”
This tiny early 18th century sampler became my starting point and it seemed almost inevitable that I should turn to that familiar imagery for my next needlework picture. The classical central tree of knowledge divides the evil temptress from the frail contemptible Adam while the devilish serpent coils around the trunk possessively looking to broker a deal.
|Everything floating and in need of a cover up.|
|Things starting to get grounded.|
|I left Eve without hair until the background work was complete.|
|The finished wrk ready to frame|
Embroidering the nude figures on a small scale has always proved difficult and resulted in the subject treated for the most part from the point of view of the animals to be introduced rather than our first parents. During the 18th century the subject was again popular in samplers done by children where the charming draughtsmanship of the human figure was at its most primitive. I decided to remain with the technique of stump-work but to use painted fabric to emphasize the shocking nature of that carnal knowledge. Those who saw the work in its infancy were eager that I didn’t delay in applying fig leaves and I was pleased that the startling contrast between the stitched covered wool surface and the naked flesh remained in the finishedpicture. Other procreating forms of life that enjoy chomping into a good juicy apple are represented in raised work from mice and birds to insects and snails. In fact all looks very colourful and rosy in the garden however that procreating has as yet born no fruit and the begetting has yet to wipe the smile from the face of the sun or drive God and me to go for a “lets try again” and the next needlework image.