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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

 

Baroque opulence at the London Design Shows

Every September, by force of habit, I find myself searching for that key trend in the new collections in the London design shows. This year it almost pounced up and bit me – Chiaroscuro is the order of the season. Be it in the stunning grouping of dark green foliage tones, as in the Forest design from Cole & Son wallpaper on display at Focus in Chelsea Harbour or the strong contrasts of colour in the beautiful Wildwood collection by Parker & Jules, showing at Decorex this year for the first time. The contrast of light and shade dominates across both the  home furnishing and fashion collections this season.

Cole & Son wallpaper

Cole & Son Wallpaper

Parker & Jules.

Parker & Jules

The continuing trend for dark wall tones, from petrol blues through to rich jade greens makes perfect backdrops for dramatic lighting as seen in the moody stand by Ochre at Design Junction and at Vaughn’s stunning Decorex display. Farrow and Ball have released new colours including Paean black , a red-toned black and De Nimes, a deep washed denim colour, both of which give a rich backdrop to their warmer colours in the new palette. Little Greene, also have deep forest colours in their new ‘Green’  range which showcased at Decorex, with a display of rich foliage and their new wallpaper collection based on historical designs.

Ochre lighting

Ochre Lighting

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Vaughn

Little Greene Paints

Little Greene paint colours

Rembrandt and Caravaggio would have been delighted to witness their influence in the interior design industry with deep shades contrasted with flashes of bright colour highlighting the drama that colour can create in a room. The House of Hackney exemplified this in their Pop-up in Chelsea Harbour Design Centre for Focus 2018. A baroque display of their papers and textiles gave a much needed touch of drama to the show. The stunning display of passementerie from Watts of Westminster was a show stopper at Decorex, as well as Focus, the sumptuous hand crafted braids and tassels carry their rich colours with the elegance and confidence of an experienced courtier .

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House of Hackney

 

Watts of Westminster

Watts of Westminster

With the focus on rich greens, of course the jungle plays it’s part and several design companies featured exotic foliage and fauna. Charlotte Jade presented textiles and wallpaper drawing upon the influences of the tropics and echoed the foliage trend seen at many companies.

Charlotte Jade

Charlotte Jade

 

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House of Hackney

Immersed  in all the deep, rich foliage I couldn’t help wondering what will come next? It struck me that to every action there will be a reaction, and that the hot colours which are currently only seen as highlights in these deep colour schemes must soon come to the fore, and then I visited the London Design Festival at the Truman Brewery, a very different tropical animal indeed. Those hot pinks and golden yellows that were just peeking through the darker forests in West London came out with a burst of joy and here we go – what comes next might well be a tropical paradise, of a very different sort.

 

 

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!

Makers Tales at the Guy Goodfellow Showroom

This week sees the official launch of the ‘Makers Tales’ series of artisan showcases in the Guy Goodfellow Collection Showroom in Chelsea, London.

Sarah Burns, who works under the name ‘Dora Fabrics‘ is a devotee of natural dyestuffs and has spent the last few years searching for native plants in the fields and hedgerows around her Sussex studio on the South Downs, and experimenting to develop an array of sumptuous colours that you would never imagine coming from plants such as the humble Ash tree or bramble.

Sarah escaped her life in the city working as an economist to follow her creative dreams, and re-trained as a printed textile designer, moving out of London to the idyllic countryside of Sussex. 

The designs in the Dora Fabrics collection are reminiscent of 1950’s woodcut prints; simple, graphic designs that originate from Sarah’s observations of her local surroundings. The graphic qualities of the prints are belied by the gentle colour palette created from the naturally dyed base cloths that Sarah creates.

For the ‘Makers Tales’ show Sarah has dyed sumptuous lengths of crunchy silk with dyes from the weld plant, which gives a glowing warm yellow, walnut and Ash bark which has given a rich pewter grey-green. Colours change depending on the mordant (or fix) that is used and on the fabric base, so Sarah’s dye recipe books are like a bible of invaluable observations.


When talking with Sarah, the joy of what she does is infectious and luckily for us she offers courses in dyeing where we can all experience the excitement of the unknown, foraging for plants, chopping, boiling and testing to our heart’s content in the fresh air of the Sussex countryside. Coming away with ranges of colour swatches and a new found respect for nature’s incredible bounty.

Of course, if you don’t fancy the process of dyeing then Sarah can be commissioned to create lengths of hand dyed linen or silk to suit your colour scheme, but be aware that the nature of the method means that you may need to wait until a particular plant comes into season, as in the world of Dora Fabrics Mother Nature dictates the seasons and their colours!

Sarah can be contacted via: http://www.dorafabrics.com

The show runs until the 14th June 2017

Textiles in the Archives

I was recently invited to attend a lovely evening hosted by Poppy Szaybo, a textile artist and archivist at the London Metropolitan Archives near Mount Pleasant.

In all the many years I have lived in London, I am ashamed to admit having never visited the Archives before, and was delighted to find such a fantastic resource for historians, researchers and genaeologists, not to mention artists, who often neglect their intellectual stimulus in favour of practicalities of producing new artwork!

The theme of the evening was ‘Fancy costume – the art of dressing up” and the talk was given by Charlotte Hopkins who works for the archive. We were a small group of creative people all with a common interest in textiles and history.

The lecture took a long and sometimes sideways look at the fascinating subject of ‘dressing up’ and it’s traditions in European and English society, from the Pleasure Gardens of Vauxhall to photographs taken by students at the London College of Fashion in the 1970’s.

One of our primeval instincts, completely acceptable in childhood, but modified and subverted in adult life is the need to ‘dress-up’ or take on another transient identity for the pleasure of ‘pretend play’. The escapism and anonymity of dressing up burgeoned in the 17th and 18th centuries, becoming part of upper class social life, and often viewed at the time as a pathway to depraved behaviour. Aristocracy and high society families spent large sums on having beautiful costumes created, and there was a large industry of costume and mask makers in London. The lower and working classes were more inventive in their creations for dressing up opportunities,

The Lord Mayor of London hosted masquerade balls for the children of the professional classes, and no expense was spared in the creation of their children’s costumes.

The London Metropolitan picture archive’s online resource ‘Collage’ allows free access to thousands of the documents and images in the collection, and is a fascinating resource for historians and artists alike. Tiny snippets from historic documents are available to view on request, old newspapers, photographs and illustrations are a rich resource of inspiration and a little window into lives led in another era. 


I loved the tiny catalogues of prices and business cards that had been taken out for us to handle, listing prices for ‘ladies undergarments’ and necessities !

We were lucky enough to be shown into the strong rooms of the archive, deep in the building. 

Long corridors filled with shelves and files, all housed in custom made archival boxes, with one member of staff purely responsible for creating these custom made boxes! The wonderful aroma of ancient documents and slightly musty books pervades the space. What look like really old bound books are stacked on some shelves, but on closer inspection date back only to the 1950’s, maybe the mere fact of them being in this environment has given us a preconception of their antiquity!

London coroner’s court records are stored here, with files containing both the mundane and the macabre details of lives prematurely reaching their end. A sobering view as we peer into the corridors of files. Illustrations of dress design and fashions were displayed for us to see, and I was delighted to find plates of Leon Baskt illustrations amongst the pages of the London Illustrated News from 1913. Radical costumes for the time, unstructured and body hugging in comparison with contemporary fashions.

I could happily return (and probably will!) To explore more of this fantastic free resource, but leave you to explore either through the virtual portal of  ‘Collage‘ or in person, do let me know if you find a treasure!

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