One of the events I attended at the Cheltenham Literature Festival was a lecture on the American artist Edward Hopper (1882-1967) given by the art historian and critic Rosalind Ormiston. The talk was called Edward Hopper: The darker side of the American dream.
I chose this event because both Alfred Hitchcock and Cornelia Parker had used Edward Hopper’s House by the Railroad as the inspiration for their work, Hitchcock, for the house in the film Psycho, and Parker for The Roof Garden Commission, on show this Autumn at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC.
Ormiston pointed out how Hopper’s work portrays the loneliness of city living. In many of his paintings, a figure (often using his wife as a model, an accomplished artist in her own right) is placed to one side of the canvas, gazing out of a window or door, suggesting all sorts of questions for the viewer’s mind, while in others, the scene simply depicts sunlight casting shadows on an empty room. Hopper, who was fascinated by light, eschewed the artistic trends of the day and “ploughed his own furrow” until his death.
Several facts drew Hopper to my attention. He was born the same year as Virginia Woolf, I had seen Cornelia Parker talking about her installation and my drawing teacher is always emphasising the importance of showing how the light falls on any subject I am trying (not very successfully) to recreate on paper.
If you are able, spend a day in London before Sunday 5th February 2017 and visit the Opus Anglicanum exhibition at the V&A. It celebrates a time when English work (Opus Anglicanum) was sought after by popes, churches, wealthy families across Europe and as diplomatic gifts. Techniques which are still in use today, split stitch and couching, were employed by professional artists (skilled women and men) in workshops behind St. Paul’s Cathedral and in Cheapside from the late 12th to the mid 14th centuries. One misconception was that nuns were responsible for the work but recent knowledge has shown that towards the end of the period, workshops led by men were the norm.
Much of the needlework on display was on linen or silk cloth lined with linen. The silk was imported from China or Italy along with threads which had been especially dyed. Copes, chasubles or orphreys were stitched with scenes from the life of Christ, interspersed with flora and fauna, for use in ecclesiastical ceremonies.
Over half the exhibits in the exhibition are from the V&A collection whilst the remainder have been borrowed from various establishments across Europe and North America. Some of the items are for secular use – for example, the surcoat worn by Edward, the Black Prince, along with his shield, two seal bags, a pair of Episcopal shoes from the tomb of Archbishop Herbert Walter (1170-1200) in Westminster Abbey, and horse coverings. You can also see a large wooden chest which was used to store copes.
One of the most fascinating exhibits was a piece which showed both sides of the work. This had been executed on velvet so it was easy to see the relief. Also, a couple of copes still had seed pearls as part of the decoration, intact.
The images below show a detail from the Jesse Cope, 1310-25, from the V&A collection and a musical angel on horseback from the Steeple Aston Cope,1330-40, loaned by the church wardens at Steeple Aston in Oxfordshire.
I urge you all to go along and be stunned (and humbled) by textiles which are over seven hundred years old. I had a lovely day.
EAST is 21 years old this month and we had a small tea party to celebrate. Members were joined by friends, Braintree Museum and Warner Textile Archive staff. Some past EAST members were also able to join us.
As with all great celebrations we had a celebratory cake, our one kindly made by Anthea. We had live music too supplied by Larry Berkovitz.
Thanks to everyone who made the afternoon a success.
More photos to follow.
Returned last evening from an exhilarating if tiring Group weekend workshop with wonderful Diane Bates. Almost all of us were there including our mentor Anthea Godfrey, just Ellen and Janette missing the fun, although Janette managed a visit yesterday afternoon.
Anthea and Susan during the Saturday evening discussion.
|A 3d piece by Lorna|
|Work by Melinda|
|Another 3D piece this time Anthea’s|
|Libby, Anthea and Lorna and above some of Libby’s work.|
|Tricia and felicity hard at work and to the right a piece if Felicity’s work.|
We all had a great time and maybe some of the work will feature in future exhibitions. Also our thanks must go to the Zinc Arts Centre in Chipping Ongar (Essex) for the use of their excellent facilities andfriendly staff.
Don’t miss your chance to see Between the Lines at Landmark Arts Centre, Teddington, TW11 – it finishes this weekend (Sunday 10th July 2016).