The beautiful man

The beautiful man

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Hat Works Presentation

As mentioned in an earlier post, I was invited to judge the inaugural hat competition, on 20th April the museum held an evening for the 20 finalists in amateur and professional classes, and what a wonderful evening it was!!! (Just realised that it sounds like I have a very glam existence which is not the case, I have been really lucky over the last few months)

The museum sent us all off into three groups for an evening exploring the museum. First up was looking at the hat exhibitions and the interesting recycled pieces that they are showing at the moment.

Next was the wonderful catwalk showing all 20 of the finalists. I really enjoyed it, the hats came down first and then again with a description about the designer and the inspiration which worked brilliantly an idea that I'd love to use myself.

Finally it was a visit to the workshop area, Ruth and I sneaked off as we had done that part a few times before. Then I had the scary job of presenting the prizes to the winners, I felt very sick and was unsure that any words would come out of my mouth never mind the right ones! Also the nerves about disappointing 18 people in the room. So the winners were.....Professional Runner up-Lorna Muir. Winner-Molly Bunce
             Amateur Runner up-Judith Flack. Winner - Laura Ann Scott
Much clapping and a few sad faces, role on two years time when at the moment the museum thinks they will run it again. The exhibition opens June 9th until Christmas.

Day at Bankfield Museum

Last year the City & Guilds group created Millinery Miscellany. an exhibition showing the variety and possibility of what us milliners can create. It was a popular exhibition and the museum curators were really pleased which was fantastic, even more so for me to have many dreams fulfilled in one go. (I fell in love with the museum when I first came to Halifax, 14 years ago, and June Hill the then curator inspired me to explore the many possibilities of textiles, first being a felt making course with Heather Belcher).

Miriam Scargall the curator has created a proposal to do another exhibition around the historic millinery collection, Miriam and I looked through the collection and chose a selection of headwear from 1860-1960. Miriam kindly got the hats out for myself and several students to examine, photograph and draw to use as a starting point for new work to be created for October. There are many possibilities of what we can create and no limitations, which often can be too broad a starting point so we will need to work together with ideas and support the work that we design and manufacture.  

All images shown courtesy of Calderdale Museums and Library Services  

Awards Dinner, London

As mentioned earlier my very talented former student Jayne Mulqueen was awarded a City & Guilds Medal For Excellence last month in Leeds, so I was lucky enough to be invited to the main celebration for all 90 medal winners this year at Lancaster Gate Hotel, London. Which also meant a great opportunity to pay a visit to my favourite museum the Victoria and Albert. The latest exhibition there is the British Quilts retrospective, so I was there with the crowds promptly waiting for the doors to open at 10.00am. A wise move as I got straight into the exhibition and it wasn't too busy that came half an hour later!!
As an overview it really made me want to stitch, inspired me to look at flat textiles as opposed to the hats which I haven't felt for a while, and as always with quilts I am in awe of the technical dexterity and patience in creating a patchwork form, all that paper pattern making, stitching fabric around the shapes and then piecing them all, one can see how it was a craft for the genteel lady.
There was a lot in the exhibition that I found inspiring from the tailors' and soldiers' quilts to the prisoners co-operative quilt, I was even surprised pleasantly by the Tracey Emin piece. The ones that were really exciting were the contemporary work, I really liked the audio visual pieces especially the needles reducing to one left in the hand. The text quilt was also a stand out for me and the Applecross piece, shockingly I haven't remembered the names of the artists so need to do some research on that asap! Well worth the investment of time and money.
Then I went next door well after a welcome respite in the beautiful tea rooms! To the Strawberry Hill exhibition, based on Horace Walpole's house in London and how he is deemed to be the first curator of relevance and put forward many ideas that are used in curating now. 

After cultural saturation I did indulge in  some retail therapy, then off to dinner, I did like the new hat created rapidly on Saturday night with a feather from Lotherton Bird Garden and the new Kansashi flowers.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Hats & Feathers

Deadline of 5.00pm for a black straw hat and it feels forever since I actually made a straw hat! I managed to get the right block shape and used straw stiffener as opposed to the usual water based stiffener which did work much better creating a more flexible straw as opposed to a rigid hat which felt more fragile. I needed to extend the crown with buckram as the client wanted a small crown but has short hair so an elastic is of no use, so had to create a 50's look in a different way.

While waiting for the parts to dry I started to create a piece for the City & Guilds dinner, so looked through the feathers from Lotherton and washed them. It was interesting as to how the feathers held more relevance and interest after seeing them on the actual birds, also I could understand the attraction that the Victorians had for having the whole bird on their heads and the many cultures who revere birds and their plumage. Washed and removed dead flamingo from the peach flamingo feathers and left them to dry, now just need to imagine an intriguing way to use them.

One of the other books I bought was on Japanese flowers which `i began experimenting with in and amongst creating the hat so quite a productive day. Whilst keeping an eye on the RYA website for race results..........

More Procrastination!

Still working through the MA paperwork and making a straw hat and realising that my blocks are not the right shape will need to use one from college.  Maybe there is the issue that I panic and worry too much about my own abilities and getting the hat right that makes me leave everything to the last minute and not concentrate effectively on my time management which would reduce my stress levels, I would think more clearly and possibly have less wrinkles!! So went to get the block and also had a delivery of new books for the textiles and millinery classes for inspiration.

One of the new books was on making stupid sock creatures which inspired Kai and he created the following with a little guidance but not much (hence the procrastination)

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Swan Lake

Good friday spent grappling with the paperwork for my MA learning record and getting more confused and panicked on the way. So i went back to reading my notes from the beginning and had a minor eureka moment, when looking at Barbara Rawlinson's notes and realising that I need to find a clearer question. As I have traversed from one idea to another and one book to another I have lost the actual perspective of what I am trying to find out and what is feasible to find out as opposed to thinking that I can tackle all thought processes and ideas NOW! So clarity of question really, something sparked by the first group meeting when I said i did millinery and the tutor leading the work mentioned hats for the races, red rag to a bull really. I quietly think that my work is more than that and that hats can be more than that and yet I am not really developing the strategy clearly enough or shouting loudly and succinctly that the hat is a viable and variable medium. So the question -Are hats only for the races? Can millinery work in other platforms?

Well to be mulled over for a day or two. Went to see Mathew Bourne's Swan lake at the Alhambra, Bradford and it brought to the point even more the importance of hats in creating illusion, spectacle and defining character in film, ballet, theatre so why not art.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Lotherton Hall

I had another meeting!! This time to discuss the Revival workshops and see if they were happy with them all, they were very happy which was fabulous, and I really enjoyed them. I had another look round the exhibition which was lovely, so many things to see and appreciate how good a curator Natalie is, the juxtaposition of pieces is perfect and you are drawn to see all the objects.

Then I had a lovely hour wondering around the bird garden with Kai and being totally inspired by their beauty though a little saddened when watching the Eagle Owl desperately try to fly for the sky through the cage roof.

Lots of images to work with for my MA practical as i develop the Ruffled Feather work further

Future Opportunities

I had a meeting at Bankfield Museum to work through some ideas for a hat exhibition in the Autumn. I realise how much I love being in the back rooms of museums and how inspiring they are. The meeting was in the clothing store it was wonderful, really atmospheric and the desire to explore all the boxes, sadly not this time. We set plans for the Autumn and selected some hats for students to work from as their inspiration and as a way to illustrate how headwear had changed through the decades. So the process begins April 19th.