Exploring our impact on the natural world – the Quaker Tapestry ecology panel
It’s week four of the #MyLocalMuseum campaign and we’re looking through Quaker eyes at the impact our lives have on the planet. Human impact is captured in the ecology panel. It’s one of the 77 modern embroideries that make up the Quaker Tapestry, which was completed between 1981 and 1996 by men, women and children around the world.
The ecology panel was made by Wokingham Quakers. It focuses on Quakers’ responsibility for the environment. “We do not own the world and its riches are not ours to dispose of at will’.
At the top you can see pollution, acid rain, toxic emissions – from transport, chemical works, chimneys and nuclear installations. Also depicted are pesticides and synthetic fertilisers, as well as noise pollution from black military jets.
But in recognising the impossibility of turning back the clock, the largest part of the panel is dedicated to alternatives. Find energy saving factories and workplaces, where people and nature benefit from relaxing, unpolluted environments and an organic farm with a setting sun. You can make out hedges to guard against soil erosion and companion planting a natural way to deter pests.
There are trees, plants, animals, ducks, and a dog, even a frog in the undergrowth if you can find it. And people of all ages, a baby in a mother’s arms, children, teenagers out for a run and an elderly lady enjoy what’s around them.
Over the years Quakers have taken small steps towards a more responsible use of the earth’s resources. In the mid-19th to early 20th century, Manchester’s John William Graham campaigned against smoke pollution. At the turn of the century Frank Newman Turner, a Yorkshire born pioneering farmer and author believed in ‘health from the soil up’. He wrote about his own farming experience which included minimal ploughing and the use of a range of grasses (herbs) to provide good grazing without the need for artificial fertilisers.
Today his writings are the bedrock of organic farming and his use of herbal lay is back in fashion – as it good for the soil, nature and farm animals.
The inter-connectedness of all life on our planet is of great importance to Quakers. Today, British Quakers have pledged that the whole of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain must work towards a sustainable future for our planet.
Buying lovely things from us directly supports our charitable work. Your purchase helps us to preserve and exhibit one of the world’s largest community embroideries, sharing its stories, history and stitches for all to enjoy.
Why not purchase a postcard featuring our ecology panel?
Quaker Tapestry facts
The colourful tapestry panels measure 63.5cms x 53.3cms and are made using a mix of five ancient stiches and a new one, invented for the project. The ‘Quaker Stitch’ is now used by embroiderers around the world.
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.