Monday 29 July 2013

For sale

I was amused to see this charming young lady in a painting by James Collinson entitled ‘For sale’ at Nottingham Castle. Her inviting look and rosy cheeks make you wonder what is for sale here. She’s holding a little purse – is she buying it or selling it, or inviting us to buy it for her or even selling herself. I’ve been doing some research into Victorian needlework and these sales of work. Charlotte Bronte is particularly scathing about them in several of her novels. They epitomise the era so well though. Many well to do young women had nothing to do except make useless craft gifts which they then tried to sell to their friends and family for charity. In many ways a metaphor for the useless lives these poor girls were forced to live.

In fine style

The subtitle for this exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, is The art of Tudor and Stuart fashion. As that suggests, there is plenty of magnificent art depicting the textiles and lace of the fashions of the period, but also some artefacts which allow you to examine the textiles first hand. Each painting is so detailed that you could spend hours examining each one and many of the costumes are painted in such detail that you could use them to draw up a pattern for the lace or embroidery. In the early part of this period, textiles and accessories indicated status and gave other subtle clues to the sitter’s religion, social position and lineage, and this is why they were painted so exactly. Towards the end of the period, ideas had changed and the textiles are painted in a more impressionistic manner. This is a fabulous exhibition for anyone interested in the fashions of this time; there is plenty to see, you can take your own photos, there is a multi media guide, and an excellent book to accompany it - which I’m just about to start reading. It’s open until 6 October 2013.

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Studies in form and substance

I saw this exhibition today at the Crafts Study Centre – it’s an interesting mix of textiles and ceramics from the UCA Farnham collections, curated by Linda Brassington and Hannah Facey. The textile collection was begun by Ella McLeod, who founded the textile course at the Farnham School of Art in 1949. The aim from the start was to form a working collection that could be used for teaching students techniques and design and to inspire them. One of the most interesting exhibits was a series of letters from Ella McLeod to Miss E Stewart MBE of the Highland Home Industries negotiating the purchase of a fine 2 ply knitted shawl. Miss Stewart sent a selection of shawls of different qualities for the students to examine and the college then bought one and returned the others. I was struck by the generosity of Miss Stewart in sending six shawls for the students to handle and examine knowing that the college would only buy one of them.

Friday 19 July 2013

The fabric of memory: comments

I’ve been putting away the work from The fabric of memory exhibition and reviewing the comments made by some of the viewers. Most of them comment on how well the work of the three artists fitted together and how suitable the work was for the site. One viewer says ‘the work forms a beautiful composition, I can’t believe they weren’t made specifically for the space’. Another comments ‘a sensitive and beautiful installation’ and continues ‘as if the work was created for the site’. Another viewer says ‘the pieces ‘work so well with the site’. Textile exhibitions do seem to be shown to advantage in the Crypt gallery, I think it’s the combination of non-white brick walls and the slightly derelict air of the place, as well as the fact that the works are separated into various sites and alcoves so each is shown to advantage without the distraction of other works near them. It certainly proved an excellent site for our exhibition.

Monday 15 July 2013

The fabric of memory

We had a good response to ‘The fabric of memory’ exhibition at the Crypt Gallery, St Pancras Church, last week with about 30 visitors a day; a mixture of textile people, artists, tourists and regular visitors to the crypt and church. The site is very sympathetic to textiles and the venue drew our work together very successfully. As well as the alcoves that framed each section of my work (see Escaping above), I also used the structure of the building to highlight the gradual return of memories and how they flood back using the metaphor of cloth and these tunnel like vents to the outside (see a detail of Exuding below).

Friday 12 July 2013

The fabric of memory: a busy day

I spent the day yesterday in the crypt - not a phrase you often have to use - stewarding ‘The fabric of memory’ exhibition at the Crypt Gallery, St Pancras Church, Euston Road, London. We had a steady stream of visitors and it was great to chat to them and hear their comments on the work. The image above shows the entrance pasage with the work of Beverly Ayling-Smith and the image below shows Mediation by Gail Baxter hanging in one of the alcoves.

The exhibition runs until 14 July, from 11 am to 6 pm every day except Sunday when it closes at 4 pm so there is still plenty of time to come and visit.

Tuesday 9 July 2013

The fabric of memory: setting up

We set up ‘The fabric of memory’ exhibition at the Crypt Gallery, St Pancras Church, Euston Road, London yesterday – it was pleasantly cool in the crypt despite the summer heat outside. I’ve set up three installations each with a photographic image and associate fabric – this one shows ‘Enlarging’ with an oversized ninepin lace edging escaping from the nail which is impaling it in the image. The theme for all my three installations is how memories overwhelm their site of containment. The other people exhibiting are Gail Baxter whose work considers absences and voids and Beverly Ayling-Smith who reflects on mourning and melancholy. The exhibition opens tomorrow (10 July) and runs until 14 July, it’s open from 11 am to 6 pm every day except Sunday when it closes at 4 pm.

Saturday 6 July 2013

The fabric of memory: preparations

I’m getting everything together for setting up ‘The fabric of memory’ exhibition at the Crypt Gallery, St Pancras Church, Euston Road, London on Monday. I am putting up three installations each including a large photographic image and a piece of fabric or lace to accompany it. The image here shows my oversized ninepin edge which will be hanging from the ceiling in front of an image of a similar, but smaller, piece of lace. The underlying theme for the three installations is how memories overwhelm their site of containment. Also in the exhibition will be work by Gail Baxter considering absences and voids and work by Beverly Ayling-Smith dealing with mourning and melancholy. The exhibition will be open from 10 to 14 July and from 11 am to 6 pm.

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Double screen: Wendy Ramshaw

This beautiful steel screen by Wendy Ramshaw was commissioned by the V&A and is on display there. The inner frame contains eight segments made from glass, wood, textile, metal, stone, paper, ceramic and plastic which symbolise the collections held in the V&A. She made it in 1997.