Embroidering the nation
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This paper discusses the sixteen-metre long embroidery, worked by members of the Embroiderers' Guild throughout Australia, to a design by Kay Lawrence, for the Great Hall in Australia's new Parliament House opened in Canberra in 1988. The building itself generates a discourse of land and landscape to express national identity, making assumptions about Australia's past and present and the functioning of parliamentary democracy many of which are open to question. The design brief directed that the embroidery focus on the settlement of the land and Kay Lawrence explores both positive and negative aspects of this theme, challenging ideological assumptions held by many Australians. The paper examines the embroidery's context in Parliament House and the negotiations that took place between designer and embroiderers with regard to the content and execution of the work.