Just a note from all of us at Hawthorne & Heaney, wishing you a Happy Christmas and a great New Year.
We look forward to seeing you in 2019!
The studio is now closed until 4th Jan 2019, when we will be back as usual.
The 1930s followed the decade of the roaring 20’s, with the Wall Street crash in 1929, the years that followed saw a great deal of change for Britain and America. With the 1930s, came the beginning of WWII, the end of the Jazz Age and a dramatic change in fashion in accordance with the economic and political transformations of Western society.
This exquisite exhibition is based around a single collection (courtesy of Cleo and Mark Butterfield) consisting of 1930s daywear and eveningwear. The exhibition began with an array of classic dresses, would have been at the height of fashion in the 30s. The impact of the Art Deco movement (which took its name from the international Arts Décoratif et Industriels Modernes held in Paris in 1925) on fashion in the 30s was profound; it was characterised by highly stylised natural and geometric forms. Something that struck us as soon as we walked in was how much the fabrics used to construct the garments were angled towards the act of wearing; specific fabrics such as satin and crepe were used to glisten in the lights of a nightclub – the wonderful art of using materials for their glamorous properties!
Evening Gown, early 1930s, Satin. Wonderful ruffled open back gown with gathered bow motif.
Glamorous. Chic. Timeless. Three words that instantly spring to mind when a vision of floor length satin and crepe gowns appeared like a mirage through the walls of the fashion and textile museum. These liquid satin, bias cut gowns – pioneered by Madeleine Vionnet – ooze sophistication and sensual night-time glamour. On the dance floor of the 1930s, everyone was equal; all class, economic and racial differences were left on the side lines.
Cinema became part of everyday life in the interwar years; Cinema buildings popped up all over the country; housewives would be able to view a matinee screening and still be home in time for the children! The silver screen was an immense factor in the glamorisation of evening wear fashion in the 1930s and the rise of ready to wear garments; cheaper fabrics such as lamé were favoured over traditional embroidery, which was not quite as decadent but almost as lustrous.Evening gown, early 1930s, satin. The glamorous style was reinforced by Hollywood during a decade of luxurious films that provided the much needed escapism from the realities of daily life.
In the room called ‘Whistle! While you work’ it was clear that the major shift in working class women becoming mass consumers was aided by media outlets such as magazines, it was explained how this shift has been an important factor in how we shop today. The popularisation of department stores and the philosophy of ‘make do and mend’ in the austerity of The Depression also led to a much more accessible ‘Ready To Wear’ trend rising. This revolution in ready to wear clothing could be seen of as a factor in our current fast-fashion crisis.
The 1930s gave way to the act of shopping (usually in department stores) and window-shopping becoming part of popular culture. The advancement of technology and women in the workplace (pre marriage, of course, due to the ‘marriage bar’ forcing women to resign from their jobs when wed) meant that fabrics could now be produced on a much larger and therefore cheaper scale.
The finale of the exhibition wowed us with a patriotic display of all things red, white and blue to commemorate the coronation of George VI. An interesting note which helped us imagine the atmosphere of the day was added in the exhibition guide: ‘Hotels were full to the seams and many people who wanted to catch a glimpse of the royal coach resorted to sleeping on pavements and in the parks, creating camps and latrines, which author Virginia Woolf likened to scenes of the Crimea.’
The exhibition was a delightful insight in to all things 30s, from the glitzy gowns of the dancehall floors to the realities of women being barred from the workplace: a truly comprehensive experience!
By Jessica Strain. All photos by Jessica Strain.
Night & Day: 1930’s Fashion and Photographs
Fashion and Textile Museum
83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF
Open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 11am–6pm
Thursdays until 8pm
12 October 2018 – 20 January 2019
Children under 12 are free
The exhibition Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up is currently at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and we recently took the chance to visit. This unique show gives a detailed overview of Kahlo’s life: her family and heritage; her politics; her relationship with mural painter Diego Rivera; the near-fatal accident that caused her a lifetime of pain; and most importantly, how she constructed her image and the way in which she lived her life.
Upon Kahlo’s death in 1954, her husband Rivera locked up her most valuable possessions in the bathroom of the Casa Azul (The Blue House, their home in Mexico) and instructed that it not be opened until 15 years after her death. In 2004 this bathroom was opened, and the contents of the room went on display at the Casa Azul as a museum dedicated to her life. These objects are what now fill the exhibition space at the V&A, carefully shipped thousands of miles to be shown outside of Mexico for the first time.
The exhibition begins with old photographs of Kahlo and her family, some of which are adorned with Kahlo’s handwritten notes. Some simply label family members, whereas others are more personal: for example, on the back of Kahlo’s Communion photo she has scrawled “¡IDIOTA!” as she renounced Catholicism later in life.
The show continues through a series of rooms to Kahlo’s accessories: heavy jade necklaces; crescent earrings featuring paired birds, which are traditional of Mexican jewellery; and hand-woven ‘Rebozo’ shawls and ‘Morrale’ sack bags. These items highlight Kahlo’s pride in her Mexican heritage.
We then move on to Kahlo’s possessions, perhaps one of the most personal parts of the exhibition. Intimate items are on display such as used lipsticks and empty medicine bottles accompanied by letters to and from her various doctors.
Kahlo’s suffering due to childhood polio and a car accident at the age of 18 lies at the foundation of some of these objects. For most of her life she wore uncomfortable corsets to help support her back and alleviate pain, some of which were made of plaster and decorated with painting as Kahlo used them like a canvas.
Finally, the main feature of the exhibition is a stunning display case of Kahlo’s clothing. Kahlo is renowned for her combinations of indigenous garments from different regions of Mexico, and she was photographed in such outfits many times. To see them up close in real life is breathtaking.
Detailed embroidery is present in most of the outfits, from complexly shaded flowers and birds to cross stitch to traditional Chinese embroidery (due to Kahlo’s fascination with Chinatown when she moved to the USA with Rivera). The exhibition gives details of her most striking outfits, describing how she was followed by children when in the USA, who asked “Where is the circus?”.
There are some of Kahlo’s paintings – mainly self portraits as she used herself as a subject when painting from her bed – but the exhibition mainly focuses on Kahlo’s items and how she presented the complex layers of her identity within her life. It states that her wardrobe was not staged: she dressed up even when she wasn’t expecting visitors, and even when she was in bed rest.
Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up is a bewitching and intimate exhibition. The items on display are fascinating, and through them the personal details of how Kahlo naturally lived an artistic life – despite her misfortunes and pain – are revealed. A must-see for anyone interested in textiles, and anyone interested in Frida Kahlo’s complex and inspiring life.
Purchase tickets at the V&A website here.
Written by Laura Hill
As some of our regular readers may know, Hawthorne & Heaney has a sister company that teaches embroidery called the London Emroidery School. As the London Embroidery School we run classes at a range of time in specialised embroidery classes such as Tambour beading, goldwork and lace making.
Whenever the opportunity arises to get in a guest tutor, we love to an exciting textile artist in to teach one of their own designs, or a piece in their signature style. This October we have instagram sensation Mother Eagle, a.k.a. Katie Tume coming to teach a piece she has designed especially for us!
Katie’s work is influenced by folklore, mythology, burial customs and the old Gods. She is currently working on projects around our disappearing natural world, and lost species which have become her signature style. ‘The Surreal Stitches with Mother Eagle Course’ combines Katie’s style and techniques. She has created this new artwork for the course, and refers to the artwork as ‘the Divine Mushroom’.
Booking is now available for this class where you will be learn this original artwork from the artist herself. Follow the link here for more details and to secure your place.
All images are courtesy of @mother_eagle_embroidery
The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has a new Fashion exhibition now showing in their fashion and textiles area called ‘Fashion from Nature‘. The exhibition provides an overview of how nature is used in fashion as well as how nature is reflected by fashion, which gives it a broader range of items to show and issues to call into question.
Waistcoat, Maker Unknown 1780 – 1789,
Like most of the exhibitions held in this area, downstairs displays the historical items, talking about the production of fabrics such as linen and silk with videos showing the full process. From an embroidery perspective, there are a few real treats for the traditional embroidery enthusiasts such as this silk-shaded waistcoat featuring these gorgeously expressive monkeys.
Fish Scales Headband, Maker unknown, Circa 1800
There are unsurprisingly a number of pieces which include animal harvested materials which are undoubtedly beautiful but the issues surrounding their use are well discussed in the displays. These are presented next to some alternatives to the use of feathers and bones which help to stop the exhibition from getting too heavy as you may be surprised at when people started to discuss the place of animal cruelty in fashion. Some pieces are just surprising in themselves such as this fish scale floral headband from the Bahamas.
Pineapple Fibre Lace Handkerchief, Maker unknown
Some pieces are hard to believe they are what their descriptions say they are, such as the lace sample above which is made of pineapple fibres, an exquisite demonstration of how delicate this material can be used.
Cellulose evening Coat, Alix (Madame Grès), 1936
Upstairs, the pieces are all much more contemporary, focusing more on how fashion imitates and draws inspiration from nature rather than taking from it directly. The piece above is by Madame Gres which uses a combination of silk, cellulose fibres and artificial pearls to create an effect to imitate mother of pearl shell linings.
‘Cat Woman’ Dress, Jean Paul Gaultier, 1997
As the theme of this exhibition is quite broad, it is a great opportunity to see a hand-picked selection of great pieces from some legendary designers; Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood are all there as well as this piece from Jean Paul Gaultier which demonstrates how well skins can be replicated in other materials like beads.
‘Rootbound #2’ Dress, Diana Scherer, 2017
Finally, we are presented with some exhibits which explore some of the alternative materials and developments which may become viable alternatives for the future of fashion. There is a piece by Diana Scherer where she has been training grass root systems to grown into lace designs which is quite incredible. It is not a fully resolved material as yet but demonstrates potential opportunities in clothing.
This exhibition is quite heavily loaded with questions of the issues that fashion has caused in the past, destruction of animals such as osprey, turtles and whales or the poisonous effects of dying and military as examples; and the way we continue to deal with these issues in the future. Therefore it is one that you can expect yourself to have to think about as well as admire the pieces on display. Fashioned From Nature is on at the Victoria and Albert Museum until the 27th Jan 2019, tickets start from £12.00.
What were you doing last week? Specifically 9-13 May. Did you manage to catch London Craft Week? Well, it’s alright if you missed it, because we are here to share with you what we did and learned!
This festival that spans across London celebrates British and international creativity. Covering a vast range of disciplines, it brought together over 200 established and emerging makers, designers, brands and galleries from around the world.
We started our journey in the heart of English bespoke tailoring- Savile Row. The Row that is entrenched deep in history, famous worldwide, houses over 100 craftsman in more than a dozen bespoke tailoring business. It is a community that not only produces the esteemed English luxurious product but is active in training new craftsman. We had the chance to attend an hour-long masterclass pattern cutting at Henry Poole & Co. In the brief hour, taught by one of the cutters about dinner jackets, he engaged us on the construction of the trouser pattern. First, measurement was taken off a gentleman in the room, then he moved onto crafting the pattern. Primarily using the Centre Front Centre Back cutting system, where scales and mathematics are used to give proportions so as to draft for the body of the customer.
After the hour, we gained a heightened respect for the craft of tailoring. Behind one jacket, it involves roughly 10 artisans, who engage in the making of the various sections of the garment. They perfect the moulding and shaping of the fabric so that it sits perfectly on the body. Bespoke tailoring suits are certainly a class of their own in both elegance and comfort.
Next, we ventured down to Sloane Square, to discover Maria Svarbova’s photography series that was the inspiration behind Delpozo Spring Summer 2018 ‘Musicalia’ collection. We were blown away by the beautiful photographs, that has this retro-futuristic. The artist describes the series as having a sense of ‘artificial detachment’, although set in a retro environment, ‘the pictures somehow evoke a futuristic feeling as well, as if they were taken somewhere completely alien.’, the moment is frozen in time. In addition, the symmetrical composition enhances the ethereal quality.
Looking at the collection alongside the photographs, there is much resemblance in the colour palette. Creative director, Josep Font skillfully translated the swimming pool blue that ripples throughout the photographs, into the choice of the fabric and embroidery. Complimenting them with pastel shades of yellow, pink, and definitely the shocking red, there is a sense of a dreamlike atmosphere.
In addition, the geometric lines and stillness of the pool, reminds us of the intimate atmosphere at the atelier; cool, architectural and beautiful, a style synonym with the brand.
Lastly, we headed to the Loewe Foundation Craft Prize at the Design Museum, that will be held till 17 June. This exhibition best summarises craft and artistic endeavours all over the world. Exhibiting a range of international works that stretch across practices, such as ceramics, papercraft, woodwork to jewellery. Entering the exhibition, visitors are provided with an audio guide, that gives a detailed explanations about the works, aiding further appreciation and understanding of the craft in view.
One theme that ran throughout all the works exhibited is that there are continued efforts made to revive traditional techniques alongside pushing the boundaries of the skill. An example is a winning piece by Jennifer Lee, who mixed metallic oxides into clay to create colour, a technique that she discovered. Complimenting this avant-garde colouring technique, with an ancient practice of pinching and coiling clay, it resulted in the creation of a beautiful speckled surface. The varying gradient of bands that encircle the piece, resembles time frozen between traditional and contemporary.
Another work, that we truly appreciate is by Takuro Kuwata’s Tea Bowl. Unlike traditional potters, who often aims to hide any cracks in their work, Kuwata defies that norm. He enhances the impression of chaos, that is natural to the unpredictable nature of ceramics, by making it the feature point of his work. By combining porcelain with platinum and steel, he challenges the possibility of materials. The melted and crack surface of the work is complemented with the saturated green patina, that makes the work contemporary and elegant.
Embroidery is also celebrated at this exhibition! Richard McVetis, who is captivated by the meditative nature of the process, draws with needle and thread. He embroidered sixty cubes over the duration of sixty hours, materialising time into something tactile and visual.
Perched on 60 beams, the 60 cubes remind me of the globe of islands, but in a square. It is a rather fun way of curating the world and plays on the idea that the world is not round but square.
London Craft Week is truly a celebration of hands that spans multiple disciplines. It makes us cherish and esteem the time and energy that goes into crafting beautiful objects. Unlike mass produced items that are often regarded as disposable, the work of the hand interweaves personal stories and beauty into everything made. In this age of mass consumption and disposal, we are glad that there is a renaissance in the appreciation of creativity and craft worldwide. We at Hawthorne & Heaney, are definitely standing behind that resurgence and hope to safeguard the shared heritage of craft.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We like to keep our interests broad here at Hawthorne & Heaney so The British Museum’s current exhibition, Scythians: Warriors of ancient Siberia, looked appealing to us. On from the 14th September 2017 to the 14th January 2018 it looks at the nomadic tribes who flourished between 800 and 200 BC, displaying various examples of their gold jewellery, clothing, weapons and living equipment.
The exhibition is spread across 4 large rooms, with carefully illustrated videos and child friendly sections of signage. Whilst walking round there is a subtle soundtrack of wind blowing playing in all the room to really add effect the the visuals you see.
It starts off with a little introduction about the Scythians, which was a collective name for different tribes that spoke Iranian, and shared a similar lifestyle and dress. Little has been previously known about these people who controlled a vast region of northern China all the way to the Black sea, as they had no written language, but since burial sites have been found and the permafrost preserved most objects scientist and historians have started to piece together a look into their life.
They were sophisticated crafts people and fearsome warriors who lived in tents and herded sheep, tradition was a focal point around whatever they did, as they used to bury the dead with all they needed for the afterlife. They had a strong bond with their own horses and often they were buried along with the owners as they believed the bond carried through to the afterlife.
The jewellry on display was stunning gold that was usually either hammered and polished by hand or cast using a technique using cloth and clay. Gold was associated with the sun and power and most of the scenes buckles and decorative horse saddles depicted were scenes of mythical animals killing ordinary animals, this was believed to symbolise concern over preservation of world order. The items are remarkably well preserved and some still contain their original turquoise or blue glass inlays.
Opposite these there is a bit of information about Tsar Peter the first, who sent exhibitions to southern Siberia and found the burial sites. After this he ordered anything gold found around there was to be sent to him,where he documented and recorded and stored all the items. Some of the watercolours used to document the items are also on display.
What I found most interesting was the clothing and textiles that were displayed. One of the burial sites that was found contained what they believed to be a Chief and his wife. The clothing was elaborately decorated with punched, gold crouching panther pieces and a lot of the fur that they wore, a variety of squirrel, leopard, and other animals, was dyed using traditional natural dyes such as indigo and cochineal. Other items of particular interest were the highly decorated shoes, head gear and the fake beards the men were buried with.
The beards were of particular speculation because scans and the preservation of the mummified bodies showed that they were often clean shaven and both men and women were heavily tattooed. Applique onto woolen items were heavily featured as well although these didn’t survived as well as others.
What tribes they couldn’t make and produce themselves they traded and stole from other tribes. The most highly prized item was Chinese patterned silk, some of these fragments have survived. The exhibition also touches on the weapons and armour that was used, the bond with their horses and the influences from other cultures such as the Greeks, and Persians. Eventually they were superseded by other nationalities and tribes as new traditions got introduced the old ones vanished and formed what we know as the mongol tribes and others.
Over all the exhibition is really informative and covers a wide variety of interests and is running till the 14th January 2018 at The British Museum.
All photos are from The British Museum Blog.