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Meeting the Batemans

The trustees of the Mrs and Mr Bateman estate have once again curated a stunning experience showcasing a collection of artists, craftspeople and designers. Set to become an annual landmark in the world of design, the “I am Bateman” show on Blenheim Crescent, just off the Portobello Road in London runs until May 11th.

 

Mr Bateman's house of cards

Mr Bateman’s House of Cards

This year the show celebrates The Batemans and their relations. The installation journeys through the fantastical world of Mrs & Mr Bateman; comprised of seven vignettes depicting the individual stories and peculiarities of various relations. As the visitor travels through the installation, they are given insight into each persona through literal & abstract intimations; their interpretation allowing them to personally create the story that unfolds. The visitor becomes the voyeur. A concept dreamed up by the creative team of Natalie Tredgett, Clemmie Myers and Selena Baudry.

Painting by Selena Baudry

Dreamscape: ” Mrs Bateman discovered she had a love of space. She contemplated it by creating miniature paper rooms. Painting by Selena Baudry

Interior designer Natalie Tredgett, is renowned for her striking interiors, full of colour and light, she says “Living in colour! Both through my work and in my day to day life, I can’t imagine doing anything else.” Natalie has styled the interior of the Batemans imaginary world using signature colours created by Vanessa Konig especially for the event, beautifully crafted chairs using vintage fabrics, contemporary textiles and embroidery from amongst others Minnie Kemp and Pink House by Rebecca Cole. Each of the chairs represents a period in the Bateman family story.

Chairs by Natalie Tredgett

Mrs Bateman’s slipper chairs. “Whilst on her travels in Istanbul Mrs Bateman Stumbled upon this Pink House by Rebecca Cole Design.. she felt compelled to immortalise it in the form of her chair. Twinned with embroidered scenes by Minnie Kemp depicting the life of Mrs Bateman’s bull-fighting Great Grandmother, Conchita Limone.

The things they left behind

The things they left behind… “In a furious rage, Vincent ripped up her beloved clothing…. later he had his interior designer re-upholster a chair out of the remnants”

A new addition to the Bateman cast is The Groomsman. Enigmatically beautiful, his persona idolises Mr Bateman, and a fraction of his secret life is displayed as a room set in the show. fantastic wallpapers designed by Otteline Devries surround The Groomsman’s personal effects; art by Ian Vail, rugs by Emmy Elle Design and embellished garments from Nathalie Ballout

The Groomsman

“He saw himself in two parts: there was the side he showed to the world, and the side he hid from it…”

Mrs Bateman’s wardrobe has informed many of the style choices in the Batemans world, stunning vintage couture garments sourced by Lime Green Bow, who also have a boutique on the Portobello Road add a touch of glamour to the scene, enhanced by Sarah Hendler’s beautiful jewellery and millinery created by Jess Collett.

Mrs Bateman's jewels

Mrs Bateman’s jewels

Mrs Batemans fascinator

Mrs Bateman’s Fascinator. Jess Collett Millinery

Featured creatives:

Jenny Baines
Nathalie Ballout
Selena Beaudry
Dara Caponigro for Shumacher
Pink House byRebecca Cole
Jess Collett
Emmy Ellison
William Ellyard
Nannette de Gaspé
James Graham-Stewart
Paola Gratsos
Iva Gueorguieva
Sarah Hendler
Patrick Hughes
Zoe Jordan
Minnie Kemp
Karina Kochejeva
Vanessa Konig
Lily Lewis
Clemmie Myers
Nicole Myers
Lisa Penny
Clio Peppiatt
John-Paul Pietrus
Phoebe Rolls
Nathalie Seiller Dejean
Birgit Tabbarah
Barbara Campbell Thomas
Brad Thomas
Natalie Tredgett
Ian Vail
Frederike Von Cranach
Ottoline de Vries
Alice Walton
Margit Wittig

 

Collect 2018 – in search of textile crafts

The Crafts Council’s Collect 2018 launched at the Saatchi Gallery on the Kings Road yesterday with a superb selection of galleries and makers from around the world. With over 400 artists exhibiting the whole of the Saatchi Gallery is filled with work spanning the spectrum of the modern craft practice. Boundary pushing ceramics and glass pieces sit alongside contemporary jewellery and bookbinding. I did notice a distinct rarity of textile pieces overall, which was a little disappointing, so am concentrating my efforts in a celebration of the few pieces that are featured.
There were some exemplary pieces of constructed textiles to be seen in the Collect Open section of the show, notably work by Korean textile artist Jiu Jang who has created site-specific pieces for an installation symbolizing the divine power of Numen, which rules the “eternal cycle from birth to death in all natural elements on earth”

Jang uses natural fibres to create monumental “garments” layering, stitching and felting fibres and dying with the seeds of the ebony tree to give a rich gamut of charcoal greys and earthy browns. The tactility of these pieces is reminiscent of ancient artefacts and the scale of the work is an impressive testament to the craft and patience of the artist.

In contrast to Jiu Jang’s wholly organic fibres, RCA graduate Hannah Robson has created a series of richly coloured woven structures using metal threads woven with yarns to create self-supporting textile structures and large hangings with 3D surface elements. Hannah incorporates copper wires in the warp of the weave and cleverly constructs forms that spring into 3 dimensional forms once they are removed from the loom.

The tradition of the woven tapestry has been used by Jilly Edwards as a story-telling medium, she has created a series of thirteen tapestry segments, each representing a four week time span. Colours are inspired by skies, and landscapes around her Bristol studio and map changing weather patterns. Presented on a long table top, this tapestry is a subtle and sensitive example of constructed textile skills.

As a lover of stitch I was intrigued by the work of Emily Gibbs. Layers of coloured silk organza are hand stitched in the seemingly simple running stitch as drawings or “portraits” of fellow makers exploring the idea of portraits, looking at depicting the person through their workspace and tools. This series of embroideries is a celebration of the often underrated skills of makers encompassing crafts such as glassblowing, pottery metalwork and shoemaking.


Amongst the 40 galleries exhibiting at Collect 2018 I only found a brave three that featured any textile based work, notably 50 Goldborne has travelled far to find their textile based offering. The gallery exhibits the Ubuhle Collective from South Africa, which is reviving the tradition of beaded textiles as art. Millions of meticulously hand sewn beads form sumptuous images and patterns reminiscent of tropical flora.


Afke Golsteijn’s hand embroidered bird sculpture is shown in the Gallerie Marzee exhibit, with hand stitched silk as the flowing tail of this piece.

And the Katie Jones gallery is showing a selection of indigo-dyed pieces by renowned Japanese textile artist Shihoko Fukomoto.


I may of course have missed some pieces, but as I have an eagle-eye for textile art, it is a real disappointment that I had to search so hard amongst over 400 artists in these prestigious international gallery offerings for contemporary textile craft pieces, when we know that the world of textiles has such a rich craft heritage. Hopefully 2019 will be a better year!

Labour’s of love…

I have been periodically revisiting this beautiful vintage needlepoint tapestry of wild birds over the past few months, adding my hand beaded embellishment, and searching for the perfect reverse cloth for the cushion. Thankfully the Guy Goodfellow Collection has just launched a new emerald courway of their popular Fez Weave which coordinates perfectly, so at last the cushion is finished!

‘English Work’ at the V&A.

The current ‘Opus Anglicanum’ exhibition of Medieval ecclesiastical embroidery at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum took me way back to my student days when I was lucky enough to be of the generation when it was still possible to study Embroidery A’level. My lovely embroidery teacher allowed us to take off on flights of fancy with creative embroidery whilst instilling a respect for the timeless techniques of the past. It is hard nowadays to imagine a state school sixth form running an A’level course with only three students, but at the time we never even questioned it! Alongside our study of artistic and contemporary stitch techniques the history of embroidery was an integral part of the course and I was thoroughly absorbed for a while in the world of ecclesiastical embroidery and it’s techniques. The no photography protocol of the V&A meant me taking out my note book and sketching some of my favourite  fragments, and even this was time consuming, leaving me to speculate on the unnumerable hours that were spent actually stitching these pieces!

va-museum-opus-anglicanum-exhibition

bologna-cope

The language of this exhibition was not unfamiliar to me as a past student of ecclesiastical embroidery, although I did hear several people wondering “What is a ‘chasuble for?” or “Which is the ‘split stitch’ and which is ‘couching’? ” ( A chasuble is the highly decorated tabard that a priest wears over his normal robes whilst celebrating Mass) Split stitch and Couching are shown  here:embroidery-stitches

In the 13th Century, English embroiderers were at the pinnacle of embroidery workmanship. Church and high society aspired to commission their garments from the English embroiderers in London.   bologna-cope

Large embroideries like the  Butler Bowden and Syon Copes were made by highly trained professionals, both men and women. They were employed in workshops which were funded by merchants and noble patrons. The merchants took the profits, not the embroiderers who received only modest payments for their work. Most workshops were in London where the necessary capital was available and which was the principal port through which the imported materials arrived. The phrase ‘opus anglicanum’ was first coined to  describe the highly-prized and luxurious embroideries made in England of silk and gold and silver thread, full of elaborate biblical imagery.’English Work’ or Opus Anglicanum remained the most sought after work until well into the 15th century.

I was looking forward to the rare opportunity to see ‘up close and personal’ the incredible detail in the embroidered vestements worn in the Medieval Church. I found it sad to think that the hours of work that were put into the embroideries were lost on the congregation, as they would not have had time or opportunity to ‘read’ the pictorial stories depicted on the garments, nor would they have been able to see the minutiae of the stitches that created these incredible works of art. There are exquisite examples of intricate stitching and beautiful fragments of embroidery in this exhibition, but I did feel that it was a missed opportunity on the part of the V&A. In comparison with the recent exhibitions of the past year , this one fits the norm of a dry, old fashioned, ‘museum’ exhibition. I had the impression of wandering amongst embroidery and theological aficionados, who, albeit enthusiastic, certainly did nothing to enliven the atmosphere.

The staging of this exhibition is in a dry, traditional style, some of the beautiful work is presented so far back in the glass cabinets, that it is impossible to make out the details. There are fantastic stories depicted in many of the Church garments, none of which were adequately told in the labelling. The minute stitches really needed to be magnified, but there was no way of doing so. A short film demonstrated the technique of one style of stitching, but was small and nestled between two glass cases, so difficult to see if there were more than two or three people looking. All in all I left, even after my second visit, feeling frustrated at the lack of interactive or engaging display.

However, if you have any interest at all in the world of textiles or history, then this may be the only opportunity  for a long while to see such a comprehensive collection of some of the worlds greatest embroidered treasures, so essential viewing !

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