Having worked as a textile designer, one of my great loves is embroidery, either by hand or on the machine. It was when my mother was renovating her little house by the sea on the Dalmatian coast that we discovered these beautiful embroideries. We were looking for interesting decorative elements to add character to the holiday house and at the local antique bazaar in Zadar we found two of these hand-stitched embroideries and a bright rug amongst a pile of folded old fabrics.
They have so much Slavic character and charm in a simple, understated way. I am not sure what they were used for, (we use them as hangings between doors) but we bought one each. I rarely see them for sale in the markets or in piles of vintage fabrics and embroideries, so I count myself very lucky to have one. My mother’s hanging has embroidered writing on both sides and mine is plain at the top. The script translates as “Look, my darling, at these red roses, they’ll be yours when you come to fetch me.”
The colours are bright and bold, the traditional Croatian deep red and white combined with interesting combinations like peach and turquoise. The burgundy colour acts as a neutral to the other brighter colours.
The other side translates as “Long live the joyful Anica Speht” (a lady’s name). Perhaps it was made as a gift for a loved one or she is simply congratulating herself on her accomplishment at finishing the embroidery.
I photographed them alongside the simple furniture I had available, flowers from the garden and fruit bought from the village market to give a cacophony of pattern and colour.
Sania Pell is a freelance interior stylist, creative director and consultant based in London. She is a Contributing Stylist at Elle Decoration magazine, with whom she has worked for over 18 years, and is known for bringing a unique aspect to photographic shoots for national publications, leading international brands and retailers as well as style consultancy for top architecture practices and property development companies. She is the author of best-selling book The Homemade Home and The Homemade Home for Children. A trained, former textile designer, Sania is also involved in many multi-disciplinary creative projects.
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