The Overlold embroidery

The Overlord embroidery, a 83-metre-long textile, is one of the longesth works of its kind in the world. It was commissioned by Lord Dulverton of Bastford in 1968 as a tribute to the sacrifice and heroism to those who took part in the battle of Normandy. Of course the idea of an embroidered tapestry that tells a story, it was not new. The Overlord embroidery was inspired by the well-known Bayeux tapestry, an embroidered linen nearly 70 meters long, which was made to commemorate the Norman conquest of England. 

The Overlord embroidery narates the story of Operation Overlord, which was the code name for the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1945. The naration begins with war-time production and the Blitz (the period of sustained bombing of the United Kingdom by Germany during the War). It continues throught the entry of the United States into the war and the planning and preparation of the invasion. The majority of the work covers the crossing of the English Channel by the invasion fleet and the combat once the troops landed on the French coast. The embroidery ends with a scene of British infantry advancing as German troops retreat across the Seine. 

Who designed the tapestry:
During 1960s, lord Durverton suggested that it would be splendid to have a modern version of the Bayeux tapestry and tried to raise official support for his idea. Althgouhg, he could not find financial support, he decided to go it alone so in 1968, he commisioned young artist Sandra Lawrence to produce some designs. Sandra, first prepared thumbnail sketches using wartime photographs, ehich were then discussed by an advisory committe. Once the sketch approved, the young artist painted a full size watercolor of it- one for each of the 35 panels. 

Who stitched the tapestry: 
The tapestry was  made by 20 members of staff from the Royal School of Needlework, along with five apprentices. 

Materials and technique:
The Overlord embroidery used applique technique, so pieces of fabric were stitched onto the backing material. More the 50 different materials were used, including fabrics taken from uniforms and headgear, battledress khaki and gold braid. In contrast, the bayeux tapestry involved only stitching. 

Dimensions: The tapestry is 83 meters long, 10 meters longer than the Bayeux tapestry but shorter that the Prestonpans Tepestry. It consists of 35 panels. Each panel measures 2.4 metres long and 0.9 metres deep.

Where you can see the tapestry: The overlord embroidery is the centerpiece of the Portsmouth's D-Day Museum. The original watercolors are now hanging in the Pentagon, Washington. 


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