Item UF2016.9.a8 - "Ukrainian Village" embroidery

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"Ukrainian Village" embroidery

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CA BMUFA 0041-1-UF2016.9.a8

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  • 1950s (Creation)

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Physical description

1 wall hanging: 132 cm x 97 cm

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(1925 - 2018)

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Embroidered wall hanging. Pattern is in cross stitch on black felt and features a village scene with people standing infront of a thatched roof house and a church. The picture is surounded on all four sides with a 9 cm wide boarder of geometric triangle and diamond motifs. There is a hole in each of the two top corners created to help hang the piece.

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The donor provided the following description:

This piece brings back wonderful childhood memories for me as the daughter of the embroiderer, Anna Drepko. In 1960 we moved to Winnipeg's North End, to 405 Aberdeen Ave. from the Point Douglas area -an area settled by many Ukrainian immigrants. We came to Canada from England in June 1952, where my parents had lived and worked after the war for almost five years. It was here, in Oldham, that Anna met and married Hryhorij, a young man who coincidentally also came from Ternopil. Shortly after their first child, Maria, was born, the family immigrated to Winnipeg . Four years later, their second child, Myron was born.

My mom embroidered this tapestry sometime between 1953 and 1958. My first recollection of this piece was it hanging above our living room couch in our little three-room suite on Aberdeen Avenue. I was always drawn to it, kneeling on the couch and imagining that the people in the scene were relatives of mine in Ukraine.

In the summer of 1970, we moved to an area called West Kildonan. This tapestry had a place on a paneled wall in the basement rec room, where it remained for 38 years until Mom moved out of the home in 2008. That's when it came into my possession.

I cherished this embroidery as a family heirloom, and I was fortunate to find an excellent home for it at the Kule Centre at the University of Alberta.

My mother's passion was embroidery. During her early years in Winnipeg she embroidered during any free moment she had. I vividly remember sitting beside her, at age four or so, "sewing" with her. This piece was embroidered from a pattern, commercially made and printed in colour. I recall seeing the paper pattern but have no idea as to its whereabouts now. I may come across it yet.

Mom made this piece sitting in a small two room suite while still living in Point Douglas, with no television on (we didn't have one till 1962) and no music playing. She embroidered without the use of loops, magnifying aids or glasses. I imagine the thread was bought specifically for this piece at a shop on Main Street. As we did not own a car until 1965, we did all our shopping on Main Street, which was walking distance from where we lived. Throughout the years Anna also embroidered three large peacocks (two of which she gave as gifts), a few tablecloths , many pillowcases and embroidered blouses as well as a few dresses for herself. There are a variety of framed embroideries as well that hung on the walls of our home.

Mom had worked in textile factories after the war, first in Scotland, then in England. When the war started, she was forcibly taken from her village of Ternopil, in Ukraine, along with many others to Germany, to work agricultural labour for a landowner. It was very hard work for a girl of 15. After the war ended, Anna moved on to England and as a result, she didn't see her mother for over 40 years until she returned to visit Ukraine in 1985.

Mom continued to embroider throughout the decades, though her work became less frequent as time went on. My parents became involved in the Ukrainian community, and their time was devoted to the church and Ukrainian organizations. It was vital to them to bring up their children in the Ukrainian spirit, enrolling us in Ukrainian evening school, dance, youth organizations and church activities. The last piece that Mom made was a Ukrainian blouse for herself in the early 1990s.

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