Tags: Artist Textile, Fashion and Textile Museum, Graham Sutherland, Horrockses, John PIper, Marc Chagall, Rockwell Kent
A largely visual post today, after my visit to the penultimate day of the Artist Textiles exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey, South London. The exhibition focuses on the work of 20th century artists such as Picasso, Alexander Calder, Barbara Hepworth, John Piper, Sonia Delaunay, Raoul Dufy and many others, exploring their work in the area of textile design. This was one way in which ordinary people were able to engage with, purchase and surround themselves with modern art – fabric for curtains, printed scarves and cotton print dresses were much more affordable and practical than large sculptures or paintings. Everyone could own a Picasso after he finally agreed to produce some designs for Dan Fuller of Fuller Fabrics in the 1950s.
The exhibition is beautiful and often works are on open display, enabling you to get up close to see the textures and colours of the fabric. Here are just a few of my favourites – all picked with the tastes and interests of Aunt Fanny, unsung hero of the Famous Five, in mind.
I think Aunt Fanny would appreciate these. She’s a keen gardener and as a woman of the 1930s/40s/50s/60s would have thought nothing about growing produce to feed her (very) hungry family. Vegetable Patch is actually a screen printed silk headscarf. Can’t you just imagine her donning this to pop down to the Kirrin shops?
This is a furnishing textile by Chagall. Maybe Fanny would like to cover her sofa, or make a nice pair of floral curtains for the bedroom from this. We know she enjoys flowers.
Country woman Fanny would probably drawn to this evocative harvest image of American Rockwell Kent’s screen-printed furnishing fabric. Kitchen curtains perhaps?
Perhaps Uncle Quentin took Fanny to Venice for their honeymoon? If so, she would no doubt like to be reminded of more romantic times by John Piper’s characteristically atmospheric screen-printed fabric, produced for Sanderson.
The Fashion and Textile Museum has previously devoted a whole exhibition to the Lancashire off-the-peg fashion company Horrockses, whose dresses were worn by royalty and housewives alike (Princess Margaret was frequently snapped in affordable Horrockses outfits). Aunt Fanny would have almost certainly owned frocks made by the company, who were hugely popular in the 40s and 50s. Here are details from these two dresses, in roses and snowdrop patterns. Mmmm.
Tags: brass rubbing, Coot Club, John PIper, M R James, Shell Guide to Norfolk
Most excitingly (for me at least), I have next week off work and am embarking upon a brass rubbing cycle tour of Norfolk. Oh yes. The past fortnight has been a whirl of finalising routes, booking B&Bs and trying to source brass rubbing equipment. The latter has actually been quite difficult, even in London, as brass rubbing is less fashionable than it used to be. Who would have thought?
Day one is Norwich to Happisburgh via a selection of the Broads and Norfolk churches. Day Two will encompass brass rubbing at Felbrigg and a visit to the hall, finally ending up in a barn near Holt and a trip to the Wiveton Bell. Day Three is Holt via Blicking to Heydon, a very charming little village where parts of one of my favourite films, The Go-Between, was shot. Day Four I return to Norwich from the west via a cycle path along an old railway.
I think my holiday is going to be something along the lines of Coot Club-meets-the Kirrins-meets-John & Myfanwy Piper (hopefully not M R James though – I have been cautioned not to dig up an ancient treasure or blow any whistles I might find). This year it will be just me and Timmy although Dick and I had a warm-up cycle around the Chilterns last weekend (Note to Self: do not take Brompton off road via muddy bridleways and woods). I will be armed with a 1950s Shell Guide to Norfolk (which promises to tell me about EVERYTHING worth seeing), my OS map (no. 133 only) and of course my brass rubbing kit. Wish me luck!