Hawthorne & Heaney goes to Ocean Liners: Speed and Style

Spanning across 8 rooms the V&A museum’s exhibition, Ocean Liners: Speed and Style, takes us back to an era of opulence and lifestyle travel. Walls painted in moody grey tones, wooden floors, all paired with ocean sounds create an atmosphere of warmth and comfort.

 

Starting off with a brief history of ocean liners and their links to immigration they quickly move forward to when immigration quotas were introduced,and the start of the liners we came to know today. Bold display of large posters and magazines advertising trips and destinations adorned the walls, these originally were to entice the people with money, advertising this lifestyle of travel and luxury that previously they had turned their noses up at. All of the posters touched on a feeling of brightness and a new modern age.

Hawthorne & Heaney goes to Ocean Liners: Speed and Style London Hand Embroidery

 

Hawthorne & Heaney goes to Ocean Liners: Speed and Style London Hand Embroidery

Hawthorne & Heaney goes to Ocean Liners: Speed and Style London Hand Embroidery

As you walk around the first room there are models of ships and detailed drawings of the impressive building these companies invested in to further enhance this idyllic way of travel.

Moving on through, the exhibition touches more upon the furniture and interior design of these magnificent ships many of which were inspired by the arts and craft movement and often a showcase of the country’s goods, such as the British Queen Mary was a showcase of British woods. Wall panels and furniture, mainly chairs, continued through the exhibition as these are a good way of tracking style change within eras. There was a sense of nostalgia in each of the rooms, as videos of life on these ships are played throughout.

Hawthorne & Heaney goes to Ocean Liners: Speed and Style London Hand Embroidery

 

Hawthorne & Heaney goes to Ocean Liners: Speed and Style London Hand Embroidery

 

Hawthorne & Heaney goes to Ocean Liners: Speed and Style London Hand Embroidery

Hawthorne & Heaney goes to Ocean Liners: Speed and Style London Hand Embroidery

Hawthorne & Heaney goes to Ocean Liners: Speed and Style London Hand Embroidery

Further on through they discuss the importance of liners throughout World War 1 and 2 as troop transport and delivering supplies and the addition of new engineering advancements to the liners as aircraft travel superseded them. There is also a Wooden panel fragment from an over-door in the first-class lounge on Titanic.

Hawthorne & Heaney goes to Ocean Liners: Speed and Style London Hand Embroidery

Embroidery and craftsmanship were very apparent throughout, even more so when it came to the last section which focused more on the liners as they became a vacation/leisure activity. This is when deck chairs were being introduced, lounging by the pool became popular and games such a deck curling were installed on deck.

Amongst the collection of swimwear, and Louis Vuitton luggage cases are outfits and objects from Miss Emilie Grigsby, a well travelled American socialite, who’s wardrobe is not only stunning but ahead of the times in many aspects.

Hawthorne & Heaney goes to Ocean Liners: Speed and Style London Hand Embroidery

Hawthorne & Heaney goes to Ocean Liners: Speed and Style London Hand Embroidery

Hawthorne & Heaney goes to Ocean Liners: Speed and Style London Hand Embroidery

 

Hawthorne & Heaney goes to Ocean Liners: Speed and Style London Hand Embroidery

Hawthorne & Heaney goes to Ocean Liners: Speed and Style London Hand Embroidery

Hawthorne & Heaney goes to Ocean Liners: Speed and Style London Hand Embroidery

Overall the exhibition is nostalgic and beautiful with a large mix of tastes and periods, taking influence from various cultures. We would definitely say this is one not to miss as it is a masterclass in style.

The Ocean Liners: Speed and Style will be running at the V&A until Sunday 17th June. Prices are £18.00 for an adult and £15.00 for a student with concession tickets available.

Hawthorne & Heaney in Conversation with Laura Lees

Hawthorne & Heaney in Conversation with Laura Lees London Hand Embroidery

Fellow embroiderer, artist and designer Laura Lees is usually found creating highly colourful, fine art pieces furniture pieces but she took a little time away from her usual pursuits to speak with us about her work:

 

Hawthorne & Heaney: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today, we’d like to start by asking you the question we get asked quite a lot of how did you get into embroidery originally?
 
Laura Lees: I applied for a city and guilds embroidery course when I was 17 and fell in love with it then. I found my skills at drawing not exceptional but confident. I found a new level of ability with the needle and thread superior than that of drawing with a pencil.
H&H: And what is it that inspires you?
LL: The way you can transform something from the ordinary to the extraordinary. I love the feel of the threads, the sound the scissors make when they’re cutting fabric, the quality of line and the battering noise and speed of my beloved Bernina industrial sewing machine. most importantly, I love the clarity of heart and mind, the skill involved and the the fact that i am always learning.

H&H: What would you like your students to take away from your class?

LL: A real sense of achievement, pride and enjoyment.

H&H: Where can we see more of your works?

LL: I am preparing for an exhibition to take place at the end of the year, inspired by dutch author Joris Luyendijk s book ‘Swimmimg with Sharks’ which demistifys the financial world of the city banks. This resonated deeply with me, having amongst many others lost my fashion label in the 2008 crash.  I explore the ‘smoke and mirrors’ architectural language of finance by descending on what must be the least understood environment in Europe: the City of London. Taking the habitat of the so-called and self-described Masters of the Universe as my inspiration and translating the visceral world that lives and survives by opacity into tangeable abstract textiles.

H&H: Anything coming up in the pipeline you can share with us?

LL: I have recently launched The Mighty Stitch corporate workshops, The Mighty Stitch embroidery workshops teach teams a new skill, engendering engagement and motivation, ultimately creating a bespoke embroidered piece of art for your workplace. • Simple, supportive instruction • No experience needed, anyone can take part
Participants are encouraged to be playful and experimental – the workshops facilitate collaboration, communication, storytelling, mindfulness, and, most importantly, making a mess! Enhanced work environment we all need a bit of that, i think .

H&H: Thanks again, I’m sure we will be seeing much more of you with all that come up!

 

Hawthorne & Heaney in Conversation with Laura Lees London Hand Embroidery

Laura also has a Workshop coming up in April which will give the participants the opportunity to be a part of Laura’s work as the pieces created on the day will be encorporated into a new piece which will be exhibited at the RIBA as part of the London Festival of Architecture. Follow the link to secure your place for this intriguing and unusual opportunity:

Hawthorne & Heaney in Conversation with Laura Lees London Hand Embroidery

‘The Riba workshop is a full day, immersed in urban embroidery.  We will focus on how a city evolves through its inhabitants by learning freehand machine embroidery, hand stitching and applique. The outcome is to create an embroidered image of a building or architectural structure.  

Afterwards, I will explore how a city is fabricated by stitching together the individual and diverse pieces made by workshop participants into a new work to be exhibited a the RIBA as part of @londonfestivalofarchitecture

All artwork will be returned to the participants after the exhibition.
This workshop is part of the programme of events inspired by the exhibition ‘Mies van der Rohe and James Stirling: Circling the Square’. 

Urban Tapestry with Laura Lees, 22 & 23 April, 11am to 4pm
RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London, W1B 1AD
Booking at architecture.com/Workshop

Hawthorne & Heaney in Conversation with Laura Lees London Hand Embroidery

All images credited to Laura Lees