The beautiful man

The beautiful man

Friday, 27 July 2012

The Art of Exhibition Labelling

My wonderful and talented (step) daughter, Agatha kindly joined my volunteer status for the exhibition and agreed to get into my head to decipher what look the exhibition graphics should have.
As a designer one is always aware of how difficult it can be to get the information from a client as to what they actually want. We all communicate in different ways and miss communication often happens, we are all too aware of that facial expression if our reading is slightly off course.
So it was really interesting to see how differently the process can be with a relative who can be on the same wave length and has the same visual language reference points, it is far easier.

Agatha had seen the space when visiting The Finishing Touch so knew the constraints and what the space was like.

The Finishing Touch Introduction Panel
 We had a title - Hot Heads - Inspirational British Millinery and a mission to create a cutting edge exhibition so wanted the graphics and look emulate this but also not scare off regular museum visitors. Colour schemes were looked at and agreed quickly then it was the typeface.

Working in an art college and having relations in Graphic Design I understand the nuances of type to a degree, so I am fortunate, often one forgets that we are in a privileged space as many don't and graphic designers walk a fine line. I loved the font that was purchased for the logo, others were not so convinced.

Hot Heads Graphics  - copyright Aggie Bainbridge
 I am so glad that they let us stick to our guns and that I was dogmatic in that this was right for the exhibition look, as it does work in putting across what the exhibition is about.

A great result down to a lot of very hard work and late night emails as the quality of images wasn't always right and some images were over deadline, a few more grey hairs!! A huge thank you to Agatha as she was incredible in her approach and determination and her wonderful designs.

Noel Stewart panel - design Aggie Bainbridge

Next Stage of the Exhibition Process

Not the new exhibit, just more preparation.

Setting up Hot Heads was an exciting process, daunting in that we didn't have all the hats! Being on the phone to one of the designer's PR's to check for the arrival of the hats, to be told that they were about to be selected and could we send a car to collect them, (from London)! Was definitely a surreal moment, especially when working so well with other designers. All a very interesting learning curve.

What shall we put where?
 We had quite a few of the hats, just three designers absent. Good to evaluate afterwards as to how to do it better next time and manage the process in a different way.  Yet there will always be personalities to deal with.
so much to do

Karen Henriksen box of stunning headwear

A fascinating opportunity to look at other people's work

Working out the best cases for the work - Zara Gorman

Zara Gorman - sculptured wood

Checking the locations for Edwina Ibbotson

Close up of rolled fine straw flower - Rachel Trevor-Morgan

Saturday, 21 July 2012

New Exhibition Begins

' I hold in general a belief that courage is the shortest route to the good life. As a matter of fact I believe courage is synonymous with the good life. I see fears as normal and rational in my life, but fear does sometimes try to hold me back and try to stop me from actions that make life rich and rewarding. To live a fully engaged life I feel I need to exercise some measure of courage. Courage to me is a willingness to try.' Waltraud Reiner, Australian milliner and inspirational tutor.

These words echo exactly how I felt when I drove to Hat Works ready to begin the next installation. Knowing that 'sticking one's courage to the sticking spot' (Macbeth) is so important to help us grow and learn, and as I have been rereading the Twyla Tharp book again, 'What was the worse thing that could happen' my family would still love me.

empty cases at Hat Works, Stockport.

Deciding where we need to put the cases
Quite a strange feeling to have the technician ask me where I wanted the cases to be? I realise that I am not quite there with the confidence of curator just yet as I didn't have a vision for it all. Or was it that my occasional feeling that winging it does sometimes work and gives new ideas take over. Cases were moved, lights installed and stripes painted. Our only real dilemma was that three of the milliners hadn't sent their hats..........As I reflect on this now after a very successful opening it seems quite funny because it did work out and you realise that there is usually a solution somehow, even if it had been to borrow a certain hat from Leeds Museum Archive.

Phew we have some of the hats - William Chambers - Latex Flower Head Piece

Our stunning colours - courtesy of Graphic Designer Aggie Bainbridge

Hats delivery from Rachel Trevor-Morgan

Thursday, 19 July 2012

End of an Exhibition

I have written little on this blog about my work at Hat Works as Guest Curator, due to a variety of reasons. This began when on my MA helping out answering research questions and being an extra pair of hands, then led to a project for my final course work to curate an exhibition on Trimmings for millinery. It was a fantastic experience so as it all comes to be taken down before the next one is put up it was a good time to reflect on what I had managed, with that fear that i wouldn't be able to do as good a job next time.

Items from the Ribbon Case - hat from Hat Works archive

Ribbon trims from Marie Kay

A selection of ribboned hats from the Hat Works museum

Stunning wood pieces from Emma Yeo in the New Materials case

Rebecca Thomas, William Chambers and Marisa Groom, one of my favourite cases

Fabric Trims a selection from the museum and Claire Spooner - Quaintrelle Millineryturban piece

Mitzi Lorenz - Cloche

Mitzi Lorenz - Orange melusine felt

Vintage feathers - Hat Works collection

Flower case

Graham Smith Feathered bomb hat

Audio coverage panel

My exhibition opening - very proud -

Close up of Mr Treacy's hat

I have spent many a lovely morning at Leeds Archive, it makes you stop and think and invites so many thoughts about the origin of objects and the lives they have had. I was invited to join the evening class students as they looked at feathered hats within the collection and were shown the damage the many bugs and creepy crawlies can do to feathered objects ( one of those itchy moments) a fantastic opportunity.
A flavour of the archive a place of magic and dreams

 I had seen the Philip Treacy hat that the museum had had commissioned for their Ruffled Feather exhibition in 2010 and knew how much it had cost and the trials and tribulations. It was still a privilege to see it so close and more importantly for myself to see its construction, how was the wire inserted, what was the ribbon that had been used? ( A stretchy velvet) How were the feathers added? Smaller quills support the main plumage. and what was the twist made of? It is so strange that the hat will never be worn, just live i its grandiose box and come out for exhibitions, an intriguing museum conundrum.
The underside of the Philip Treacy hat-key for every milliner to see how it was done

Close up on centre twist - Philip Treacy feathered hat

Ostrich feathers on Victorian Bonnet

My Ruffled Feather hat Property of Leeds Museum and Galleries - Very strange to have one's hat brought out to be examined.
 I was very fortunate that when I designed a piece for the exhibition I was approached along with Justine Bradley-Hill for the museum services to purchase my hat for the collection, a real honour.
But a funny feeling to have it there for others to critique and examine, all god experience.

hat by Justine Bradley-Hill

One so much wants to put the Philip Treacy hat on your head, strange that it will never be worn.
Stunning feathers - though not quite sustainable

A trip to Manchester

I was fortunate to go to Manchester for a training morning last month, looking at how objects in museums and every day life tell stories and enable history and ideas to be remembered. It was fascinating, looking at how a box of Kellogs Cornflakes could link back to the oldest horse, whose skull is in the museum, I will let you mull on that one. How as someone involved in museums or exhibitions can create new lateral ways to tell stories with objects. Something i loved as ever is being behind the scenes in a museum, there is that spark of wanting to find out more.

Inuit sealgut coat (kamleika)-pre 1925

a waterproof layer that would be worn over a seal skin coat

This was a really fascinating garment as it was practical, beautifully made, perfect design.

Couldn't resist the taxidermy!

Every time i see the garden at Manchester Museum I covet it.
loved these - just near Victoria Station, really made me smile

Thank you - A humbling moment

I have been fortunate enough to teach in millinery and textiles for the last 12 years, sometimes the reason that I do this gets marred by bureaucracy, tiredness and trying to fight to prove how important my discipline is.

Today the reality of why I do love teaching and why its important was once again brought into focus. One of those moments that you need to remember when its the middle of winter and you are creating an exhibition of student work on your own or when your course gets closed down. A student who spent a year with me called by the college to say thank you, thanking me for inspiring her when she was at her lowest point and enabling her to change her path. Such sentiments are truly humbling and sometimes we can lose sight of this or forget those teachers who did just that for us. (Mine was my 'A' level English teacher who introduced me to the poems of William Blake).

Another former student spoke to me last week with the words 'Thank you, you changed my life, and I wouldn't be doing what I am doing without your support and belief' There isn't much you can say to that, just cherish and use it to stoke the fire when the motivation is ebbing to keep fighting for the craft that does affect and inspire so many.

A truly amazing thank you gift x Thank you.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Kensington & Chelsea End of Year Show

If I hadn't had children and lived down South I would have attended KCC or aspired to, Kirsten may not have accepted me. Each year when I visit the end of year show I am inspired. The collections are well developed and show a high attention to research and manufacture, there is always something that leaves me excited and realising that millinery will always create something new. This year was no exception, in the new Hortensia Road building the exhibition space didn't have the same grandeur as the high ceiling room of old but the work didn't disappoint.

Beth Simpson (Lady Go Red)

Holly Gaiman (Holly Gaiman Millinery)

Kate Hughes (Kate Minola)

Jane Bailey

Myriam Lengline (La Dame au beret)

Rosanna Gould (Rosanna Gould Millinery)

Jo Miller (Milliner London)

Detail-Jo Miller (Milliner London)

Carmen Amander

Margaret O'Connor (Magasilk Millinery)