Last month I was in the Kensington area of London with about 40 minutes to spare between appointments. What better place to visit than the Victoria and Albert Museum. There just happened to be an exhibition of natural dyeing in the Japanese Gallery with displays relating to one man’s search for lost techniques.
Videos not only showed some of the dyeing processes but also explained about some of the ceremonies that related to the practice – including the making of dyed paper flowers (see below).
Sadly the display has gone now and my images do not do it justice, but it just shows how even a half hour visit can be quite inspiring.
Oceania, is one of the current exhibitions at the Royal Academy in London (continues until 10 December 2018). This is a personal reflection of some of the issues and objects I found particularly interesting but especially those linked to textile art.
On entering the gallery you are confronted by an enormous blue cloth – stitched and slashed – made by the artist Kiko Moana of New Zealand. It seemed to me the perfect illustration for an exhibition that was considering the art and cultures of a region both connected and divided by water. As a modern work it was also a reminder that this is not about an art and culture from the past – this was an exploration of Oceania throughout its history.
The second art work was a film, Tell Them, by Kathy Jetnil-Kijna. It begins with a description of a piece of jewellery, leads to a discussion about Marshall Island and its people, and ends with their fears for the future. It was about the links between cultures. It was a reminder that actions in one part of the world impacts on others.
The exhibition continues with a vast array of items – canoes, figures, musical instruments, navigational charts each one telling just a little about a vast array of diverse communities. There were also plenty of textile items. There were many pieces of bark cloth but also pieces of patchwork. The relevance of Samoan fine mat was fascinating in that these precious items were also used in ceremonies of reconciliation.
In addition there were several pieces of jewellery.
The curators of this exhibition were not shy about discussing the problems that began when Europeans, James Cook in particular, first encountered many of these cultures. Equally the curators were keen to highlight that not all of the objects displayed were looted items – many were gifted by their original owners or traded. Curation and display, it seems, was also a big part of this story.
The impressive mourner’s costume was a reminder that many of the objects on display were not originally intended to be static items but were part of a larger picture that would have included sound, scent, movement, etc. It highlights another major theme – that many of the objects are about memory. The past and the present are combined in such items.
Having visited the British Library
‘s exhibition James Cook: The Voyages
(which finished at the end of August), it was interesting to see two such different responses to the same starting point – both exhibitions relate to the 250 year anniversary of James Cook’s first voyage of discovery. Both were very thought provoking and both were reminders of how the actions of the past still resonate in the present.
SPILL festival – finishes Sunday 4th November
These are really worth seeing, inspiring designs and beautifully made!
PROCESSIONS was a mass participation artwork to celebrate 100 years of votes for women.
It was an open invitation to every woman and girl across the UK to get involved by being present on Sunday 10 June in one of the four UK capitals: Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh or London; inspired by the great processions of the suffragettes and suffragists in the years leading up to 1918, who marched to demand the vote.
In this special exhibition for SPILL, 100 banners created around the UK for PROCESSIONS will be shown as a trail at various locations across Ipswich.
Have a look at the link below and even if you can’t get to see the exhibition there is a good video showing many of the amazing banners.
For anyone interested in the history of tambour embroidery – I will be presenting my new talk at the Chelmsford branch of the Embroiderer’s Guild tomorrow evening. It is based on the research for the work I am doing for The Power of Stitch
will be displaying in the spring of 2019 (details to be announced shortly).
My talk will look at the arrival of tambour embroidery in London, England in 1765. A fashion ‘must have’ of the late eighteenth century, the technique was both a favourite of the queen, and a means of exploitation of the poor.
(Images on this page show items in the Victoria and Albert Museum which may (or may not) be of tambour work. This chain stitch technique is difficult to identify without access to the reverse of the garment.)
The Chelmsford branch of the Embroiderer’s Guild
meets in the Main Hall, Christchurch, New London Road, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 0AW. Meetings begin at 7.30pm and end at 9.30pm. Visitors are wellcome – there is a small fee.
Even though EAST does not have an exhibition on display this year, many of our members (and ex-members) are still involved with other events and exhibitions:
EAST member Melinda is also a member of the Chelmsford 93 Group which have an exhibition just opened at Braintree District Museum, Manor Street, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3HW. Ex-EAST members June and Anne also have some work on display here. This exhibition will be on display until 7 July 2018, and there are several accompanying activities to look forward to:
From Saturday 9th to Saturday 16 June 2018, Leigh Art Trail
includes EAST members Tricia – find her at venue 39 – Leigh Cliff Buildings, 12 Leigh Cliff Road, SS9 1PR.
And finally our newest member, Kay is taking part in the Burnham Art Trail
from 14 June, 23 June to 1st July. Kay’s work will be found at the Museum, Coronation Road (10am to 5pm).
It was such a momentous occasion – all the EAST members, and Anthea,
were all present at our January 2018 meeting – so we had to have a group photo.
(Back row) – Felicity, Lorna, Libby, Janette, Margaret, Julie, Jenny and newest member Kay
(Middle Row) – Ellen, Anthea, Carol and Melinda
(Front Row) – Liz, Susan and Tricia
We are also pleased to announce that we now have an Instagram
account – so hopefully we will be able to share some of our work in progress. You can also find us on Facebook
– don’t forget to “like” our page to keep up to date with exhibitions and events.
Producing work for an EAST exhibition is not just about research, trials and samples, making the item and putting it on display. Sometimes the work can have a life after the last exhibition is packed away. I find it particularly gratifying to hear that something EAST created has become the inspiration for someone else. For the work made for Between the Lines it is particularly pleasing to hear that the research itself continues to be useful.
This has been the case with regard to the information sheet I produced on the Lady Smith-Dorrien’s Hospital Bag Fund. I had used this to make my work, shown above when the exhibition visited Landmark Arts Centre, Teddington. Now the research is going to be part of a museum display.
From 4th December this year, and for six weeks only, Bath Medical Museum will be recreating a WWI war hospital – looking at how the inpatients (soldiers) were ‘entertained’ over the Christmas period. Instead of focusing on the grimmer aspects of war the exhibition will use anecdotal stories on the themes of food, entertainment, gifts, decorations, celebrations, etc. They will look at how local people provided plum puddings, knitted goods and filling crackers.
In addition, on the opening day (6.12.17) there will be a lecture by Dr Roger Rolls on the history of the Bath Mineral Hospital during the war. The exhibition continues until 6 January 2018.
For more information visit the Bath Hospital Museum website. Please note that the museum, which is run entirely by volunteers is open Mondays to Wednesdays (2pm to 4pm) and Fridays (10am to 12 noon).
More information about Lady Smith-Dorrien’s Hospital Bag Fund can be found by following the link from my page – HERE.
EASTie, Tricia North
is part of this exhibition which will be on display at the Beecroft Art Gallery
, Victoria Avenue, Southend on Sea, SS2 6EX from November this year until February next.
stands for “The Other MA” and is an alternative education method at the level of a masters’ degree. It was devised by Emma Edmonson, working in partnership with Metal Art School at Southend on Sea. Artists from a variety of disciplines will be displaying their work -a mixture of sculpture, ceramics, photography and paint; a result of their twelve months’ of study. It is sure to be an interesting and thought provoking exhibition.
On Saturday (8 April 2017) two members of EAST visited the East Yorkshire Embroidery Society at Cottingham to present our Between the Lines talk. We had a really warm welcome and it was a lovely group to visit, set in a very nice village, close to Hull. We did not have time to look around Hull but its station was full of flags advertising the fact that this year it is City of Culture (see below).
There is even an aircraft hanging from the roof – a copy of Amy Johnson’s plane (a Hull girl) made by the prisoners and staff of the local prison.
Another artwork in the station was a statue of poet Philip Larkin (below).
Despite the fact that it was a beautiful, sunny day, we were pleased to have about 90 members of the East Yorkshire Embroidery Society and we even managed to spend a few moments in their fabulous “pop up shop”. Susan is seen here (below) buying some silk fabric and I purchased a book on Elizabethan lace for just 50p.
And while we gave our talk our husbands took Susan and Colin’s dog Briar to visit the local windmill and found a cafe selling cake. It was carrot cake apparently so one of their “five a day”!
Coming home, sitting at Cottingham Station in the sunshine we had to sit a while with the birds singing and wild flowers blooming. It reminded me of the poem Adelstrop which we had read just a few moments earlier as part of our talk – a moment of calm where nothing happens at a railway station.
Tonight (on Monday,10 April 2017), I will be much closer to home visiting Chelmsford Embroiderers’ Guild
in Chelmsford, Essex with a different talk Threads of Time
. Visitors wellcome.
For more information about EAST talks visit our talks webpage.
(Posted by Janette)
Today was another day when I had an appointment in London and just a short time to pop into an exhibition I had only recently heard about. Embroidered Tales and Woven Dreams
is a free exhibition at the Brunei Gallery
at the School of Oriental and Asian Studies (SOAS), part of the London University and just off Russell Square, London WC1.
It is a collection of some beautiful embroideries and weavings that are representative of lands along the ancient Silk Road. The guest curator, Marian Bukhari apparently owns many of the pieces but there are also works from other collections. I do not know if they have ever been displayed before but most can be looked at closely allowing the variety of stitching and weaving techniques to be examined.
Some like this piece above, were displayed in such a way it was possible to see both sides of a piece of embroidery.
This particular pair of costumes were traditional Afghanistani pieces.
As well as textiles there are also some pieces of jewellery, books and art works. In addition there are a series of public lecturers (again all free) and the exhibition continues until 25 March 2017. The exhibition covers two floors.
The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday 10.30am to 5pm (late nights on Thursdays until 8pm) but closed Sundays, Mondays and Bank Holidays. It can be found in Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London, WC1H 0XG.
I only spent a short time visiting today but I will definitely go back with my notebook and camera, and spend much longer.