Exhibition showcasing smocking comes to Bungay

Smocking exhibition at St Mary's church, Bungay. Jacqueline Holmes demonstrating the art.

Smocking exhibition at St Mary's church, Bungay. Jacqueline Holmes demonstrating the art. - Credit: Nick Butcher

As smocking is brought to the public’s attention with a smocked garment modelled by Prince George recently at his sister’s christening - Jacqueline Holmes hopes an exhibition on the embroidery technique will show it has a modern use.

Smocking exhibition at St Mary's church, Bungay.

Smocking exhibition at St Mary's church, Bungay. - Credit: Nick Butcher

The history of the textile art is explored at the exhibition held at St Mary’s Church in Bungay with a variety of smocked garments on display including clothing and decorative items.

Mrs Holmes, who is the chairman of the Smocking Branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild, will also give demonstrations of the skill.

She said: “With Prince George recently wearing a smocked top it has boosted the art form.

“So far the response to the exhibition has been very good. We get a lot of holiday makers and people travelling up because they have heard about it. People seem very interested in it.

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“We want to show smocking in a modern way and that it should be appreciated and used.”

Included in the display are examples of smocked shirts which were popular with farmers before they became the must have fashion accessory for Victorian fashion.

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“The elasticity in the fabric made it easy to move in and easy to put together,” said Mrs Holmes who has been chairman for six years. “There are three levels of fabric which protected the farmers out in the field all day.

“They were practical and not meant to be decorative. Only when it came to ladies’ fashion did they become decorative. And then it showed a woman’s wealth as they could afford three times as much fabric.”

A smocked top given to the late Tony Clarke, who was chief reporter for The Journal for 25 years, by a Norfolk family is also on display. Mr Clarke was known for his dialect comedy from his alter ego the Boy Jimma who wore smocked garments and was a regular member of the touring troupe the Press Gang.

The exhibition will run until Monday, August 3 and is open from 10am to 4pm. Following the exhibition Mrs Holmes is hoping to set up a smocking class in the Bungay area.

For more information, contact smockers@smocking.org.uk or call 01502 470004.

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