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  • Place of origin:

    Maidstone (made)

  • Date:

    1959 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Riley, Susan (designer)
    Riley, Susan (embroiderer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Machine-embroidered organdie, plastic raffia ribbon

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Needlework Development Scheme

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The Needlework Development Scheme (NDS) was established in 1934 to encourage embroidery and to raise the standard of design in Britain, organised by four Scottish art schools, Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Its collection of foreign and British embroidery was available to domestic science and training colleges, women's institutions and schools, as well as art schools. By 1939, the Scheme had acquired some 900 embroideries but the outbreak of WWII closed the Scheme and the collection was retained by the four original art schools. Glasgow School of Art was instrumental in re-starting the scheme late in 1944 and the NDS was gradually expanded to encompass other art schools in the United Kingdom where embroidery was taught. The NDS was disbanded in 1961 when funding was withdrawn, although it was recognised that the Scheme had achieved its aims. Its collection was divided and distributed to various organisations included the Embroiderers Guild, The National Museum of Scotland and the V&A. Susan Riley was a student of Beryl Dean. Her work is figurative and closely detailed, reminisicent of fine pen drawing. Riley designed a number of ecclesiastical projects for Beryl Dean's embroidery class at Hammersmith College of Art and Building, including a cope and mitre for St Paul's Cathedral and The Hammersmith Cope.

Physical description

Short curtain made of machine-embroidered sea-green organdie with a border of mermaids and merkings with attendant fish, shells and seaweed. Two bands of plastic raffia ribbon give contrast in the texture.

Place of Origin

Maidstone (made)


1959 (made)


Riley, Susan (designer)
Riley, Susan (embroiderer)

Materials and Techniques

Machine-embroidered organdie, plastic raffia ribbon


Width: 25.5 in, Length: 33 in

Object history note

An example of the work of the Needlework Development Scheme, designed to improve the standard of embroidery in Scotland and to provide domestic science training in colleges, women's institutes and art schools.

Descriptive line

Curtain made of machine-embroidered organdie, designed and embroidered by Susan Riley, Maidstone, 1959

Production Note

NDS 5130


Organdie; Cotton thread; Plastic

Subjects depicted

Mermaids; Fishes; Mermen; The Sea; Seaweed; Shells


Textiles; Interiors; Embroidery


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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