Bridging Arts

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Quilts 1700-2010

Meet up with Katrina later in the week at the V&A to go to the long-awaited quilts exhibition. A big show and a lot to see.
18th century work amongst the most intriguing - made of treasured and valuable scraps of fabric, in particular Indian chintz so admired that the government banned its import (to protect domestic production). Pictured: A Bed Hanging (1730-50).
Would have liked to have seen more from the US.
And .....I have to say, I think I saw more breath-taking contemporary quilts at Creative Exhibition's Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham last summer.
Great to see that The Subversive Stitch by Rozsika Parker has been reprinted, presumably in honour of the show.
Am almost inspired to take the sewing machine out over the weekend.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Projects for the Easter holidays....

I am not a Daily Mail fan. But keen Stitch supporter Katrina Williams points out that they have a good craft page ... Interesting projects - maybe - for the Easter holidays....

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The point of fashion?

Reading American Vogue on the plane home (having watched The September Issue - a documentary starring Vogue Editor Anna Wintour and Creative Director Grace Coddington - on the way over). Why so much fuss about fashion? Anna Wintour's Editor's letter makes an interesting point: "Fashion ultimately empowers one to celebrate one's best self on one's own terms."
Also in the issue - a list of fashion blogs, very keenly read at the moment....They showcase this one by Mary Tomer which follows Michelle Obama's wardrobe and outings. And this by French fashionista  Garance Dore which apparently gets hundreds of thousands of hits....
I like my daughter's friend Molly's - not in Vogue as yet but previously mentioned in this blog as a pioneer up-cycler. Molly is going from strength to strength, as a reading of her blog will reveal.
Arrive back in Shepherds Bush with Therese's bag packed with Lucky Charms cereal, Oreo Cookies, Hershey Kisses, herbal teas and other food requests.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Native American beading at the University of Minnesota

A unexpected and thoughtful present from Therese - a  bag which folds into a case like a portable umbrella holder. Already need it to hold the things that won't fit in my suitcase.... Then we set off for the University of Minnesota.

Therese has had the inspired idea of pursuing the embroidery trail at the Goldstein Museum of Design. A selection of wonderful native American buckskin beaded bags.

Photos courtesy of Goldstein Museum of Design, University of Minnesota

Chippewa beadwork.
Originally, Native American beads were carved from natural materials like shells or coral, wood, amber - or stones like turquoise. Copper and silver were used animal bones, horns, and teeth. Glass beads only started to be used after traders brought them from Europe.

Beading on velvet. Small, drawstring bags.

The silver beaded bag above is apparently the oldest piece. But the curator says these are very tricky to date.A swatch of beading for a cushion cover.

And its reverse.

Later we have lunch at a huge Vietnamese restaurant with Therese's mother-in-law, Ann Hage, who is pleased to see the snow thawing so fast. It is drizzling steadily.
(On the menu - fresh spring rolls - which I remember vividly from my last visit nine years ago.) Ann brings along a magazine with an article about an exquisite wedding veil of Brussels lace that has been in her family for generations and has been worn by ten brides. She was a bridesmaid when her sister was married in Fergus Falls, northern Minnesota, wearing the veil. 
A photo from the magazine of one of the ten with her mother, in the 20s.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Snow in Minnesota and the embroidery trail continues

In St Paul, Minnesota, to see my great friend Therese. Thought it was cold on leaving London but it wasn't really. Here the temperature has been minus 30 at times and snow is still banked up on the pavements, though now starting to melt as at long last spring is on the way. Immediately see one of Therese's creations - an outside arrangement that has lasted all winter, even surviving being buried under several feet of snow.

We go for a walk with Fiona the dog who doesn't mind the cold. And come across street art.

Poetry on the pavement.

It seems fresh, a breath of fresh air and a surprise. This kind of thing seems to happen best in America.

Tomorrow, we are going out to look at more embroidery.
Think of when the embroidery trail started, summer 2008 in central Spain with another old friend from the States.

Monday, 8 March 2010

A sparkling new addition for the Stitch Roadshow

We have another swatch to add to the exhibition! Katharine Collett, who is very impressively running informal sewing circles in Battersea, has created a sparkling new piece. Katharine attended the course launching new embroidery packs and motifs in the autumn.
"I found the design in a tattoo source book, of all places - it made me think of a phoenix and a peacock at the same time," she says.
It's great that the body of work is growing in this way.
Katharine is embroidering a new logo for the group which meets at York Gardens Library, Battersea. Now known as 'Needle loves thread'. If you're interested in going along, please email and I can will you in touch.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Unexpected embroidery in a Stanley Spencer chapel

A beautiful Sunday morning and drive with my son to Sandham Memorial Chapel, Wiltshire, to see the Stanley Spencer murals, commissioned in the late 20s and reflecting Spencer's experience in the First World War.
Remember very clearly the last time I went - Election Day in May 1997. But wasn't interested - so much - in embroidery then and didn't notice the embroidered altarpiece.

It is by Madeleine Clifton, an old friend of the Berhrends family which commissioned the chapel and its murals. She was an acclaimed embroiderer in the early 20th century - was a pupil of the painter Walter Sickert and in 1909 opened an etching school with him. Later on, she married Sickert's dealer - A B Clifton - and abandoned painting for embroidery.
This altar hanging is in grey tone, natural linen, a perfect counterpoint to the maelstrom of colour and movement in the mural behind. And as the images in the mural pose questions, so does the text on the embroidery. The lines are left incomplete.
"We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little....." The Tempest, Act 4, Scene 1, line 148
"I am the resurrection and the life and he that...." John 11, v 25.