ExhibitionsOlive Braun: Exceptional Embroiderer

Museum Exhibition 2012

The Olive Braun Collection consists of the needlework completed by South Australian Mrs Olive I. Braun (nee Marshall) over 36 years from the 1930’s – 1960’s. The embroidery ranges from handkerchiefs, doilies and aprons to framed pictures in needle painting, supper cloths, lingerie and clothing. All of the items have been meticulously hand stitched in a wide variety of patterns and techniques with great skill. Olive’s needlework techniques included needle painting, counted work, drawn thread work, Hedebo, Richelieu Guipure, Roman cutwork and appliqué.

Olive Braun became interested in needlework in 1929 when she was confined to bed with rheumatic fever for 12 months.  A friend of her mother brought her a linen cloth printed with a design of fruit, and the threads necessary to embroider the cloth.  In 1930, that embroidered supper cloth won First Prize at the Melbourne Semco Show and in 1932, her ‘Autumn Leaves’ cloth was awarded Champion in the same show.

When Olive moved to a Woodside dairy farm to live with her husband, they milked cows during the day, and she embroidered in the evening by the light of a lamp because they had no electricity. Olive had entered her embroidery in shows from 1930 until 1966 when, at the age of 60, she retired from showing and judging needlework. Over 36 years, Olive had won 14,600 prizes at shows in Australia and New Zealand.

Olive also demonstrated and displayed her work at the Country Women’s Association and at different charities, such as the Flying Doctor Service and Red Cross, as fundraising special events.

The large collection of embroidered items covers a lifetime of embroidery. It is rare to have such a large collection of one person’s embroideries, and of a renowned South Australian embroiderer. This is a unique collection because of its provenance.

Dianne Fisher. Curator