Stitched Words: Agnes Richter and Rosalind Wyatt

While thinking of stitched words, two remarkable examples of embroidered garments came to mind. The  linen jacket above was made by Agnes Richter, a seamstress and patient in an Austrian asylum during the late 1800’s. She constructed the jacket from cloth typically used in the institution and embroidered her story onto the jacket.

There is no clear inside or outside of the garment. Only the words on the arms are legible from the outside, the rest are can be read from the inside, where she placed them close to her skin. The garment is part of the Prinzhorn Collection at the Universitaetsklinik Heidelberg. Due to its fragile nature it’s not always available for public view.

Images (c)

The red garment above is an 18th century silk bodice embroidered by Rosalind Wyatt, a calligrapher from the UK  The embroidery features letters between Daniel Hack Tuke, Wyatt’s husband’s great great grandfather (1827 – 1895) and his newly wed wife Esther Strickland. They were written on a 1853 journey while visiting various European asylums. The Tuke family is known for radically improving the treatment of the mentally ill with a progressive and humane approach.

Rosalind Wyatt was inspired by the work of the Prinzhorn Collection, which was assembled in the beginning of last century and contains 5000 works made by people in psychiatric institutions from all around Europe.

Two amazing jackets, so different and yet so interconnected.

For more information on Rosalind Wyatt’s work, click here.

More images of the Agnes Richter jacket can be seen on LuluBird’s flickr stream.

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18 Responses to “Stitched Words: Agnes Richter and Rosalind Wyatt”

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  1. Shelley Noble says:

    Oh good god, these garments are extraordinary! Not only beautiful intrinsically but the story of them makes them incredibly poignant.

    Thank you for posting them.

  2. Sue says:

    So interesting – thanks for sharing these. Not sure I'd be brave enough to use antique textiles as a base for my work – I've yet to quite get my head around using old books and maps in the same vein – working at an ancient library has given me too much of an archivist's perspective I think. Cutting up old letters too – I go all shuddery. Not that I don't often really like the results – it's a conundrum. Thanks for your comment on my Portugal post – how amazing to have lived there, weren't you lucky!

  3. ShabbyChicShaz says:

    Amazing work, thanks for sharing, it's really interesting :)

  4. Vicki K. says:

    These pieces are fascinating and beautiful. I'm thinking of all the hours spent stitching and reflecting and relating to the calming effect most needlework has for me.

  5. Citizen K says:

    What a captivating story, thanks so much for sharing this.

  6. kaze says:

    Als Postkarte von einer Freundin habe ich vor Jahren eine Jacke der Agnes Richter erhalten, die ich oft fasziniert betrachte. Die Textur die entstanden ist, ist einzigartig.
    Textile Grüße von Karen

  7. Tina S says:

    This so so lovely! I really cannot express how happy I am when words are incorporated into other arts. It warmed the cockles of my language-loving heart. Thank you for telling us about these beautiful pieces of textile art.

  8. Anairam says:

    Beautiful! Creative people will find an outlet, no matter who or where they are.

  9. TraceyKnits says:

    Amazing work, thank you so much for sharing

  10. StaziO essentials says:

    Amazing ! thank you so much for sharing

  11. StaziO essentials says:

    Amazing ! thank you so much for sharing

  12. StaziO essentials says:

    Amazing ! thank you so much for sharing

  13. StaziO essentials says:

    Amazing ! thank you so much for sharing

  14. Jannette says:

    The Agnes Richter jacket is very moving, and beautiful at the same time. Thank you, for the story.
    It echoes, for me, the scraps of fabric in the Foundling Museum exhibition (in London)- the intimicay, and the emotion captured in cloth. What a wonderful find!

  15. ruby murray says:

    Thank you so much for sharing, I didn't even know such work existed, it's sad to think how many perfectly healthy (by todays standards) women ended up in institutions for such commonplace issues such as depression. How tragic that they only had this medium to share their stories.

  16. smallscalesewing says:

    I sure wish I could see these in person. Thanks so much for sharing it.

  17. Elaine says:

    Wow! Thank you for sharing the photos and their poignant story.

    The work on those jackets is stunning.

  18. Madeleine says:

    Fab photo. I heard about Agnes' jacket in 2009 when i was listening to Radio4 All in the Mind. Fascinating story. I hadn't heard about the red jacket though. Fascinating!

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