At the Quaker Tapestry Museum

Ecology and Sustainability Panel

We are participating in the #MuseumCarbonStories campaign, as part of the Roots and Branches project to support museums to become Carbon Literate and take action against climate change.

The campaign is taking place in the run-up to the UK hosting the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 31 October – 12 November 2021.

In our first blog, for this week’s theme of ‘Ecology and Nature’, we are highlighting Kendal Quaker Meeting’s summer meetings in the garden and the ‘Ecology and Sustainability’ Panel of the Quaker Tapestry.


Kendal Quaker Meeting in the Garden

This spring and summer, during a spate of fine weather, the Kendal Quaker Meeting decided to start meeting outdoors whenever the weather permitted. This was to enable greater social distancing and air circulation. It also enables members to spend some time outside enjoying the fresh air and greenery. This has taken on a new importance after spending so much time cooped up indoors during lockdowns, where only virtual Meetings were possible.

The positive effects of spending time in natural environments, such as gardens is well documented. It lowers cortisol and thereby stress levels – a key benefit in this time of anxiety. Additionally, being outdoors has been linked to memory improvements and even increased creativity from new neural connections being formed. Many of history’s great thinkers have done their best work when out in nature, for example Isaac Newton, William Wordsworth and J.M.W. Turner.

The members of the meeting have certainly been enjoying their refreshing garden visits!


The Problem

The second thing we are highlighting for this week’s ‘Ecology and Nature’ theme is our own ‘Ecology and Sustainability’ Panel from the Quaker Tapestry.

This panel questions our stewardship of the planet. The top strip depicts some of the most polluting industries: gas and oil; factories; planes, lorries and cars, as well as farming and logging. The lack of sustainability and global impact of these industries has received an increase in attention in recent years and been the subjects of protests and information campaigns by environmentalists – bringing the topic firmly into the public eye.


The Solution

The panel’s central tableau depicts some alternatives based on energy-saving principles to the polluting industries in the strip above. The ‘free-range’ ducks emerging from the lake in the foreground were embroidered by children and the frog in the undergrowth represents one of many endangered species.

To the centre-left, in a farm worked by organic husbandry, hedges guard against soil erosion and companion plantings (such as onions and carrots with marigolds and aromatic herbs) deter pests.

To the right, an informally planted border provides a wildlife corridor and in the background a zero-carbon eco-home provides a model for the architecture of the future.

Among these, a family sits with their dog, enjoying a clean, diverse and sustainable natural environment that their children can enjoy long into the future.

A Plan For The Future

Over the years, Quakers have often taken small steps towards a more responsible use of the Earth’s resources.
John William Graham (1859-1932) of Manchester campaigned vigorously against the pollution of smoke and was one-time chairman of the Smoke Abatement League.

F. Newman Turner (1913-1964) developed ideas of organic farming and practiced them from 1939. He founded and edited ‘The Farmer’ to advocate these and natural health for animals at a time when more orthodox journals were reluctant to accept articles of such a revolutionary kind. He believed that real health was possible only if food is grown naturally in a healthy environment – and so ecology and true health are inseparably linked.

In 2011, British Quakers Pledges that the whole of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain must work towards a sustainable future for our planet.

Further Information

If you enjoyed reading this blog on ‘Ecology and Nature’, check out some of our other blog posts:

Find out about the history of the innocent trades

Discover the fascinating story of the pioneering scientist John Dalton

Learn about how Stramongate School helped the First World War effort through gardening and land work

Supporting the Quaker Tapestry

We hope you have enjoyed reading our blog!

We couldn’t accept and care for our tapestries and other wonderful artefacts without our dedicated Care and Conservation team. However we need your help to…

– Create an improved database of the extensive Quaker Tapestry collection of supplementary items

– Develop best practice of the Care and Conservation volunteers through further training

Your donation will help us achieve our goals and ensure the longevity of the exhibition and collection. Please consider making a donation

Alternatively, if you are interested in the Ecology and Nature, why don’t you check out our Ecology and Sustainability postcard on the online shop?

Quaker Tapestry Facts

The colourful tapestry panels measure 63.5cm x 53.3cm and are made using a mix of five ancient stiches and a new one, invented for the project. Embroiderers around the world now use the ‘Quaker Stitch’.

World traveller and writer Alexander McCall Smith, says they’re one of the ‘six best tapestries’ to see in the world.

The panels help you find out about famous scientists, engineers, bankers, botanists and non-conformists who pioneered industrial welfare, fair trade, prison reform, peace work and anti-slavery initiatives. Many were Cumbrians.

Begun in 1981 and completed in 1996, they’re the work of 4,000 men, women and children from around the world. Some of the panels made journeys of thousands of miles as they passed from one group of people to another.

2 comments on “Ecology and Nature

  1. Joan Margaret. ( Peggy } Kimble on

    I will be 99 years of age in , December, I was fortunate in adding some of my stitches to the Quaker Tapestry when it came to British Columbia in Canada. I have not been fortunate enough to see the finished tapestry sadly.
    I am an embroiderer still. Recently embroidered my version of scenes of the east and west coasts of Canada.
    I am pleased to know that the Tapestry is hanging for people to see it.


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