Collection Focus: All the World’s a Stage


This is the last article from the current themed series around our Festival of Quilts exhibition ‘Quilts and their Makers’. We hope you’ve enjoyed exploring some of the items in the collection, and for those of you travelling to the Harrogate Knitting and Stitching show there will be an opportunity to see a selection of these quilts again – including this fabulous, theatrical piece.

‘All the World’s a Stage’ is a contemporary pictorial piece made in 1993 by Linda Straw, which uses the speech from Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like it’ as its inspiration. The famous speech is spoken by the character Jacques—a melancholic nobleman with a philosophical outlook. He compares life to a play and divides man’s time on earth into seven ages – from a newborn infant to a man in old age. These, and the stages in between, are beautifully illustrated in this piece, with many different Gods from world cultures featuring in the surrounding columns of the theatre set which frames the scenes. 

The style of this piece is very iconic and particular to the artist, who often combines narrative works based on historical subjects with her expertise in appliqué, quilting and embroidery. All the fabrics are silks, and the piece features machine embroidery and machine appliqué in a style that has become the hallmark of Linda’s work.   

Linda Straw is a Leicester based artist and teacher with many years of experience of teaching in Britain, Europe and America. Her narrative works, based on stories or historical subjects, bring together her interests in literature, art, fabric, embroidery, colour and texture, which combine together to form visually bold and stunning quilts. This quilt also contains a self-portrait of the artist—Linda herself can be seen in the lower right hand corner of the quilt—busy at her sewing machine. On the opposite lower left hand corner you might notice a motorbike – something else the artist was known for!  

The Quilters’ Guild Museum Collection is sponsored by Bernina, UK.

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