Devizes Exhibition

A visual study of Tess of the d’Urbervilles:
A Pure Woman Faithfully Presented in a novel by Thomas Hardy

Led by artist Sue Martin, this five week project is a response to the exhibition, Hardy’s Wessex: the landscapes that inspired a writer, at Wiltshire Museum, Devizes.

Our Melksham members were invited to examine the relationship presented by Thomas Hardy- between a strong young woman, her social circumstances, and the significance of the Stonehenge landscape in which the last scene of Tess of the d’Urbervilles unfolds.

The project started with a guided visit to Stonehenge by Wiltshire Museum on a cold and rainy day in March 2022. Lively discussions ensued on the bus following a picnic lunch, still wet from a walk around the stones.

The museum brought along a handling collection of everyday domestic artefacts used by Victorian households which were drawn and used to make rubbings in sketchbooks.


The project focused on the notion of struggle and the impact of the actions of others on the tragic heroine Tess who was a victim of a series of misfortunes due in part to her innocence, beauty and attraction to men who took advantage of her lack of experience and vulnerability.

Sketches were transformed into a range of surface texture and fashion design ideas using images of the Stonehenge landscape as inspiration. Some of the group were keen to record their initial ideas through poetry and throughout the weeks, creative experiments led to fabric manipulation based on textured research.

Sewing was lots of fun and the group embraced and enjoyed stitching, chatting and laughing, a lot!

“Seeing other people’s art sparks different ideas and I think,
‘I did that!’ and ‘I can do this!’ ”

Our members wonderful work will be on display from 28 May – 30 Oct 2022 at Wiltshire Museum.

Arts Together and Wiltshire Museum would like to thank Wessex Museums for their support of this project.