Bridging Arts

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Chhaya Biswas embroidery at the Women's Library

Handmade Tales
Women and Domestic Crafts
At the Women's Library
London Metropolitan University
Old Castle Street
E1 7NT
Tel: 020 7320 2222

A great show at the Women's Library, east London, curated by Carol Tulloch who had seen a piece by Chhaya Biswas of Restart 50+ at last year's Knitting and Stitching Show. Chhaya's piece is on show - wonderful!
Carol's aim (in a nutshell) -  to take a look at why women make, not buy. And to show "how domestic craft becomes 'a form of agency' and cultural capital for many women."
Went along with Katherine Eves, keen seamstress (what a word!) who has been helping me throughout the summer. We loved the 40s swimsuit.  The woman who created this couldn't actually sew. She cut out the pieces and her husband stitched them together - excellent team work.
The 40s swimsuit

Chhaya's embroidery
Background ... the swimsuit
Sugar paper captions

A nice touch - an unusual Visitors' Book
Katherine Eves, absorbed ...

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Zahra Ahmed's stunning tunic sari

I have just written a piece for the website and created a photo gallery there - but I think that the blog has a different readership. So am repeating here... Zahra Ahmed was a recent winner of the British Sari Story competition (seeking a radically different way of wearing the sari and a design to challenge traditional thinking
Her short-skirted sari impressed the judges, and the sari retailer RCKC which made up the design in India. Zahra, from Peterborough, is  - amazingly - still at school, in the final year of A levels.
"I based the shape and design of this sari on the edgier and more urban sytle of British girls today. This is why I shortened the length of hte sari. It could be worn like this, or with leggings or skinny jeans for the more modest wearer."

The sketch that inspired the pallau...

And the pallau design: "There are straight sharp lines all over the fabric... randomly placed. I drew the lines so that they ressemble disco laser lights, which adds an energetic and modern feel to the sari."

A tear sheet of 'British' images in Zahra's sketchbook...

Zahra adjusting her sari, made up by RCKC (sari retailer) in India, at the Knitting and Stitching Show, Alexandra Palace, October 2010.

Zahra with her mother, at the Show.

Friday, 22 October 2010

More news from Harlesden - a bag and a rug

Hannah Walker reports on this week's class at the Asian Women's Resource Centre in Harlesden. The work seems to be going really well. Several women have already completed work, which will go on display at Willesden Green Library early next month, as part of Islamic Awareness Week.
And people are still bringing in other examples of their work.

Hannah has sent photos and background:
Daxa brought in a bag she made nearly twenty-five years ago when she was a young girl in India. It's decorated in small pieces of plastic that are glued on to the fabric's surface and is a type of embellishment that she learned from her mother.
 Pearla also brought in another rug she is making, this time using thick rug wool. Perla's 'Magic Loom' also makes crocheting easy to do and with this device, she plans to make a bed spread.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

A Gormley statue modelling the Bridging Arts bag

Thank to Josie Harris for this lovely photo from an icy northern beach ....
Statue by Antony Gormley. Crosby Beach, Sefton.
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Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Two pieces of news

First - there will be no class at the Asian Women's Resource Centre in Harlesden next week as it is half term.
And secondly - a new course will be starting in Harrow in the New Year. Ten weeks, again, studying the same packs designed by Hannah Walker. For details, please email me.

Plants and patterns

Today really liked the print on Dolce and Gabbana dresses for the new season. A plant (no idea of the name).

Then realise that I have one... A present some weeks ago.

And I spotted this same plant in a restaurant in Budapest, in September. Obviously very on trend...

Monday, 18 October 2010

Needlepoint not drugs

How Jerry Hall spent the long evenings on tour with the Rolling Stones: "Drugs? I promise I never did them. They frightened me to tell the truth. When we were on tour and the rest of the band were getting up to whatever they were getting up to, I would go back to the hotel room and get out my needlepoint.". Speaking at Hayes Literary Festival on band member Keith Richard's memoirs and reported in The Times
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Sunday, 17 October 2010

Iseult sewn into her dress

In Cornwall for the weekend and back to the legend of Tristan and Iseult.
Iseult, about to be thrown on to a burning pyre in punishment for her illicit love, looks pretty stunning (hair falling to her feet, bound with gold net) and dressed in a tunic 'of dark grey silk sewn with small
stitches of gold thread'. Apparently in the Middle Ages some garments had to be sewn on each time they were worn.
Like (they say) the dress worn by Marilyn Monroe when she sang Happy Birthday
to President Kennedy at Madison Square Gardens in 1962.
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Thursday, 14 October 2010

Another birthday present

This time a pillowcase embroidered by my daughter for a friend .....Cowboy pattern bought in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, this summer
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Sunday, 10 October 2010

Packed up and waiting for the taxi home

Terrible traffic!
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Crowds of visitors

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Katrina Williams at the Knitting and Stitching Show stand

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Sarah and students

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At the class

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Sarah Homfray's sari design

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Pictures from Sarah Homfray s class

The goldwork umbrellas on Sarah's sari design have attracted loads of attention. No surprise that she has Royal School of Needlework training! We are very lucky that she is able to teach a class for us, demonstrating these techniques.
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Visitors from a school in Golder s Green

The last day of the Knitting and Stitching Show....
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Saturday, 9 October 2010

Looking at Katherine's book

Our intern Katherine Eves' book is attracting a lot of interest. Here Sabahat (whose name means 'the wind') takes a look. Sabahat wants to be a fashion designer and is at the Knitting and Stitching Show as a birthday treat.
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Our very first backer

So lovely to see Vashti Waite from Brent Council, visiting the show with her son (pushchair just visible). Vashti was the very first person we pitched the British Sari Story idea to in 2006. She gave us instant support. Without it, the project might never have got off the ground.
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Friday, 8 October 2010

Congratulations to runners up

The judges had a tough job. Amber Ayub of Cardiff created an exquisite butterfly sari and Sarah Homfray of Kent a breath taking umbrella design with crystal bead rain drops on white gauze floating over it. Pictured: Sarah's goldwork.
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British Sari Story overall winner

Sharen Kaur modelling her winning entry. A sensational revamp of the sari that drew loads of attention all day. Sharen based her design around a traditional English garment, the corset. The pallau draped forwards here from pleated top leggings. There are various ways of wearing this ...
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British Sari Story competition runner up

We have the results! Runner up Zahra Ahmed with her mother and her mini skirted sari. The judges thought Zahra brilliantly shortened and transformed a traditionally long garment.
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Sewing workshop

More activity at the Knitting and Stitching Show...a workshop with the Royal School of Needlework based on British Sari Story finalist Sarah Homfray's design.
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Thursday, 7 October 2010

Once again, I couldn't make the class at the Asian Women's Resource Centre in Harlesden. And every week it seems to get more interesting. Hannah Walker, who led today's class, sent over some pictures and info. Thank you, Hannah  - what would we do without you?
"This week students brought in pieces of their own needlework. Khalima brought in a bedspread that she had embroidered with wool, a needlework technique known as Crewelwork. Her seventeen-year-old daughter who studies art and design at college designed the flower and vase motifs. 
"Pearla brought in examples of her knitting and crochet work that included a long knitted scarf, two beanie hats and a crocheted rug sampler made of wicker twine. From the sampler she plans to make a large rug for relatives living in the Caribbean. Using the same material will mean the rug will be ideal for higher climates where rugs need to feel cooler under the foot than ones made of thick rug wool.

"Pearla also brought in a very small baby’s cardigan that she crocheted in bright yellow wool. She kindly gave this to Eleanor, a student in our class who is pregnant.

"At only three weeks into the course two very keen students, Kunsum and Chanchal, have finished their exhibition embroidery – a piece we are asking every student to complete using their own design.  They have both produced a beautiful motif embroidered in the stitches we covered during weeks one and two: stem stitch; running stitch; chain stitch; French knots; sequin embellishment."

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Brand new British saris

At the Knitting and Stitching Show all day, setting up our stand. Fabulous space again by the entrance, thanks to the generosity of the organisers. Two of the new British saris have arrived. Pictured here - a detail of a butterfly covered sari by Amber Ayub of Swansea.
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Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Count down to the Knitting and Stitching Show

Excitement is mounting. Picked up saris and garments from RCKC's Wembley shop today. They are simply exquisite.
A last minute dash to Shepherds Bush market for velcro and pins - and we are pretty much set for the installation tomorrow. Katherine Eves, our tireless intern, helped prepare the mannequins this morning. Was so pleased to get hold of Nyla, formerly stylist at Asiana magazine, who is going to help us drape. Not that these radically new saris need much traditional draping. But Nyla is a wizard when it comes to presenting clothes.
We aim to judge the shortlisted entries on Friday afternoon....

Monday, 4 October 2010

Opening sentences and a birthday

Take advantage of a long bus journey into work (because of the tube strike!) to finish a pillowcase for my son's birthday. Maybe the quote (from Hemingway) is a bit sombre ... The opening sentence from A Farewell to Arms.
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