The beautiful man

The beautiful man

Friday, 31 December 2010

Lunch Time Reading

Quick post as I am way behind in MA writing schedule now..........

The Handmade Marketplace by Kari Chapin  easy to read some great tips and a very user friendly chapter on pricing and for those who know me that is very key. I will order a copy for the library at work. (Thank you Agsie for a perfect Christmas gift xx)


Wishing everyone a wonderful 2011 and thank you for sharing in my random thoughts and early attempts at blogging, hopefully I will improve.  Sharon x

Hat for the Upper Class

Whilst in Devon talk arose of a top hat and case that John's father had bought many a year ago that was in the attic, shortly to go on a journey to London, to John's sister's house for display. So it was taken out to all our fascination I particularly liked the box as I haven't seen one like this before.

The workmanship in the leather case is beautiful, it would be fascinating to find out more about top hats and their time and usage, this hat has obviously traveled extensively though equally it could be a different hat from the original.

Back to the idea of how we view and interpret an object we have preconceived notions of the Top Hat and the romance of the Upper Classes, it was reportedly introduced in 1797 by haberdasher John Heatherington, and caused ladies to swoon and to create such public disturbance meant a fine of £50, the hat quickly became de rigeur for the upper classes. So did the one pictured lead a life of glamour or intrigue, was it just for high days and holidays of a mill manager or the owners working hat. Does the object naturally evoke these thoughts and ideas or is it necessary to be given more input through objects and information to inform the interaction so it s not quickly passed by - oh its just a top hat.
"Hats are the universal head covering in England, even for working men, hats of the most diverse forms, round, high, broad-brimmed, narrow-brimmed, or without brims-only the younger men in factory towns wearing caps. Anyone who does not own a hat folds himself a low square paper cap"

Friedrich Engels The Condition of the Working Class in England 1845

Comments on the working class of Manchester and Salford when Engels from Germany was working for his father's cotton mill business in Manchester as a clerk; my husband is reading the book. There are some really fascinating excerpts about the clothing of middle and working class and descriptions on the cloth worn which defined your place in society. Fustion for the working class (which when looked up is linked to denim cloth) Broadcloth for the middle classes. Though not key to my work now on the MA definitely is something to park to one side for later as it fits with my research into the Trade Union movement and suffrage from the cotton mills of the North.

On the accessories front we see that the hat was ubiquitous then, as the mobile phone is now; accessories move with form, function and fashion.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Other ideas for display

More snow meant different ideas to explore. I wanted to evoke the object in a different way and as I am exploring a range of accessories footprints sprung to mind.
Halifax snow
Devon snow, Christmas Day
The idea of either just leaving the bland spaces of the footprints or having a shoe amongst that doesn't correspond to the footprints, then photographing as the snow melted.

Or creating a different body form to 'exhibit' on that makes you look again. The shadow is elongated and we are drawn to look at it, so if we then draw images or photos of the accessories on to the form that could create something of interest also.

Hat Works Volunteering

I have begun to do some volunteering work at Hat Works Stockport, just general tidying and helping take down and set up exhibitions. December 6th was my first meeting with the head of curatorial services and to look at what I could do.  The museum has lots of inquiries on the history of items and their provenance so I will be involved in doing some research work and helping with the exhibitions. So first one was to change the What's Hot exhibition of Molly Bunce's work. One of the first key things you note as a maker of work is that we are less protective of it than a museum curator; it is ingrained within them to ensure all pieces are handled with gloves and correctly stored, so as I noted with volunteering with Leeds Archive I have a lot to learn. The process of numbering and packaging correctly is key, the administrative element is highly important, something else to note.
Good Golly Miss Molly piece
Good Golly Miss Molly, unique fabric distortion work
When Laura Kate Scott then brought her work for inserting into the cabinets then the process was observed from the other side, and watching the curator's face as Laura just popped her hats on the floor after they had been cataloged was interesting! So all pieces are described and the collection given a temporary accession number then signed for ensuring a value is placed for insurance purposes. Then to display I was offered to do it all myself but felt that it was important to learn the processes that Hat Works followed. The hats were 1940's inspired so it was key to create that look and add to the visitors understanding of what they were experiencing, a very different approach to Molly's which were left to stand n their own with the distortion technique being centre stage.

Working with the stands that are available and ensuring that the hats can be supported effectively to display them and not damage them are all key aspects to be looked at. The spacing in the 3 cases and how this works best with the hats to be displayed were all considerations, which were the iconic pieces to stand alone; which hats worked as a group and complemented each other; how did they view together. The exhibiting process is quite traditional (I would need to look further for ideas as to how to effect this), as the work of Laura has a 1940's feel this was fine and the ability to add other pieces from the collection to enhance the reading was very effective. The exhibition is on at Hat Works, Stockport until April.

Product or Identity

Looking further at the window displays there is the element of whether it is just a means to show the retailers product as in the past or whether a specific identity is being sold. In the 1980's Gap used this to their benefit as did the new designer jeans. Jack Wills has followed on from this notion and having now seen their store in Exeter as well as Manchester it is a total identity and means of belonging that is being offered.

Jack Wills, Manchester.
Gap, Manchester.
Gent's Outfitters opposite Town Hall.
Though looking at Gap of today and the Gent's Outfitters maybe Jack Wills is combining the two. the nostalgia of past shopping experiences yet displayed for the savvy 21st Century shopper, and again as with Selfridges there is a curatorial approach to display which the Paul Smith empire has also used to profit making success.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Shop Displays

Louis Vuitton
Harvey Nicks
As part of my MA work looking at the curator role and the way we display objects I needed to do a comparison with commercial displays so I did some window shopping around Manchester to compare what was at the forefront of visual merchandising.

It was interesting to see the different affect on seeing more of a conceptual, thought provoking window than those that used traditional means to promote their brand and product, but that is also dependent on the viewer, their background reference points and whether they are aware of the brand and its iconography as with Vuitton's logo paper bags.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Winter Wonderland

Thursday 8th December was the first soiree at The Yorkshire Wedding Collective Harrogate, under the backdrop of the remaining snow the boutique glittered and looked very welcoming and Christmas like. The evening was lovely lots of couples being able to look around at the wide range of opportunities to make their wedding day special and chat about what they were hoping for, far more welcoming for all participants than your average wedding fair. I do need lessons in communication at this type of occasion though, so any tips gratefully received.
all photos copyright of Morgan Photography.

  For more details of the event visit

Friday, 3 December 2010

hats in the snow

Just a few of the bridal pieces made for the Winter Wonderland event at the Yorkshire Wedding Collective next week for more details. Using the finest silks, vintage silk veiling, beads, crystals and my favourite material felt.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Yorkshire Wedding Collective

I have been invited to be the milliner in the Yorkshire Wedding Collective, who are based in Harrogate. Exciting to be making hats, daunting as I am not wedding material so a whole new experience to take my design ideas into bridal wear. So if you know anyone who is about to take the plunge there is a Wedding Soiree on the 9th December at Bower Road, Harrogate at the Yorkshire Wedding Collective showroom. More information on

Knitting & Stitching Show

Harrogate to Halifax = 5 hours. I hope everyone got home safely from Harrogate on Sunday evening it wasn't a pleasant experience.

Saturday, 27 November 2010


I had forgotten the way cats and millinery materials don't always go together especially when you have a deadline!

Knitting & Stitching Show

Missed last year's knit & stitch as was ill, so was unsure what to expect and how it was all going to fit in with everything else. The stand was really large and though downstairs, was with the other colleges so a real buzz from the number of people going through and lots of inquiries so fingers crossed.

Considering my MA topic and looking at curating, I have definitely got a lot of work to do to achieve a strong curation style for college shows. Though i did get floored when I saw the size of the stand and the little amount of stuff I had it looked ok. The first years work was really strong and when I was on the stand the feedback was very good. Not so keen on the snow though!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Weymouth again!

Round trip to Weymouth on friday to collect my son, a walk on Chesil Beach was sufficient respite to get me back in the car to drive home. The smell of the sea and sea weed and the amazing noise of the pebbles was good for the soul. The detritus threw up all sorts of thoughts on potential ways to view accessories in different lights.

Thursday, 18 November 2010


Congratulations to my HNC Millinery students who graduated today, I was like a proud mum (again) for many reasons' knowing how far they had all come, it was the first time we had been allowed to graduate with the other college students and looking at all 332 LCA student being launched into the world. It was also a first for me wearing a gown as I hadn't attended my own graduation, which led to a whole range of other reflective thoughts.

How selfish was I, as the first in the family to go into higher education but not let my parents share that. Looking at all the colours of sashes from each university they definitely should put in the prospectus the colours of the institution it could make a huge difference in ones choice! Pale pink with white fur or pistachio and gold, the options are endless. I did get excited by thoughts of actually attending a graduation if I manage to successfully complete the MA. So really need to get my head together and do some more work...........

Saturday, 13 November 2010


I have been in a quandary with the MA knowing where to take my work next and whether it will have millinery in it or not So it was with trepidation that I approached my tutorial this week as I felt that I had lots of storms whirling in my head with no clarity as to how to take the ideas forward. After emptying my brain (poor Melanie and Polly) there started to look as if there maybe a plan and what was detritus and sheer whimsy on my part that will need returning to later was removed and the right path identified. So for the moment I am going to look at accessories as objects and how they are perceived and how to change that perception potentially through different forms of curation, So need to look at exhibitions I think that work (Kensington Palace, Martin Margiela) and those that don't in my opinion. Take this and look at merchandising that works and that is often more directional than curating in galleries etc. Look to develop a collaborative exhibition or a way to exhibit my own work in a more directional manner.

So if you can pass on any exhibition/window display reviews they will be most welcome.

Pairings Symposium

Before half term and the chaos that was context presentations, I attended a symposium on an exhibition called Pairings at MMU. The concept behind the exhibition was bringing together practitioners of different disciplines from different institutions and those in their own practice and seeing what the results would bring. Several of the pairings presented their 'journeys' and they were really fascinating, you could feel the vibrancy and enthusiasm and the excitement that had been generated by the collaborations. My favourite work was that of Sharon Blakey & Ismini Samanidou and Clinton Cahill & Cate Watkinson there was a real dynamism to the pairings and this came through in the work. Well worth a visit if at MMU, in the library at All Saints in the Special Collections.
There was also a talk by Glenn Adamson curator of the V&A who edited The Craft Reader, his title was Affective Objects-Design & Reinvention of Craft, interesting notion that before the industrial revolution there was no 'craft' and that as the arena of craft and art continues to be questioned and reassessed it could be viable to look back at history pre 1750 when craftspeople had others to do their work.  He talked of Claire Toomey and how her work is emotionally charged with both Monument where she re assembled  ceramic shards on a grand scale, but then when the exhibition was dismantled the pieces went to Pilkingtons and were recreated into tiles, so the tiles could be anywhere. As in Trophy where she created jasperware birds in the V&A Medieval Gallery and invited the viewer to take them away an allegory of the loss of industry and creating a different way to interact with the audience. Also talked of the efficacy of objects. I found this a fascinating talk and look forward to the new book, it also made me feel a little ignorant!!!!!

Thank you

Bankfield Exhibition

S Daniels, P Chapman, J Mulqueen, S Flack,

S Casey, L Scott, F Dixon, L King, M Flanagan
Opening of the Not any Old Hat exhibition at Bankfield Museum, Halifax. Thank you to all those who have contributed to make it possible and to Bankfield for letting the hats take over again! So thanks to Sue Carter, Jayne Mulqueen, Marie Flanagan, Fiona Dixon, Ruth Doyle, Linda Ling, Linda Kitson, Jane Campbell. Judith Flack, Sue Daniels, Judy Tompkins , Pauline Chapman, Sheila Dryborough, Beth Hirst, Clare Spooner, Sue Casey, Marie Kay, Marie Hennesey Halewood, Julie Barham, Anna Gawronski, Laura Kate Scott, Christine Roberts Holland, Elizabeth Cousley and Helene Frank for their commitment to millinery and me!
J Tompkins, S Carter & C Roberts Holland with Bankfield collection hats

S Carter, R Doyle, P Chapman

J Mulqueen, S Carter, Me, R Doyle, F Dixon