One lovely spring day in March, website like this I found myself in the company of fellow Amelia’s Magazine writer Satu Fox (see her quilt here) on a trip to see the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Quilts exhibition. I was excited and intrigued to see what form this exhibition to take – thinking as I travelled along the Piccadilly line through the swarms of excited tourists: how to display quilts? How to convey their memories and the time taken to craft them without overwhelming the audience with text? Fascinated by the process of recording oral history I was keen to experience history that had been stitched, adorned, tessellated, hung on walls and spread across beds.
It turns out the exhibition is simple in concept; quilts are laid on beds or hung upon walls, spilt into bite sized chunks of quilting history namely: Making a living, Meeting the Past, Virtue and Virtuosity, Private Thoughts – Political Debates and the Domestic Landscape. Enabling the visitor to move between quilts – viewing the changes between quilts from different areas, houses and for different purposes. Throughout, modern quilts are interjected amongst the archive; their use of structural materials a stark contrast to the homely nature of the rest. It is intriguing to see the consideration of quilt as an art object due to the stance of the modern artist, however I think an unexplored potential of this exhibition is the latent object hood inherent in quilts. They are expressions of being confined to a single space of existence. Modern artists differ perhaps because they make a more aggressive exploration of the notions of femininity and the worth of different types of work. Art and Craft (A debate intensified during the establishment of the Royal Academy of Art under Joshua Reynolds) have long been in argument about their ‘status’.
Whilst I found it difficult in the exhibition to do anything other than absorb them visually, the exhibition is well documented with the quilts placed into context through accompanying letters.
Not surprisingly, considering the emphasis placed on an idea called home, the exhibition is incredibly popular. Quilts is reminiscent of the permanent exhibition at the Geffrye Museum, a fascinating insight into the development of the modern home. Quilts enables us to trace the development of ideas on comfort, sleep and protection whilst demonstrating a continued desire for beautiful objects. Whilst I can no longer read the illustrations present on them, these quilts act as memory holders for lost stories and precious family moments.
Quilts is an interesting glimpse into the V&A’s extensive collection, and exictingly the museum are encouraging people to upload their quilts onto the website developing a new archive of homemade quilts from the 21st Century. They are also hosting extensive workshops on making quilts, the hidden history of quilts and a variety ways to make quilts find more information here.
You can also read the curator of Quilts blog.
Quilts 1700 – 2010
Until 14th July, £10 adults, £6 students, free for members
All photography by Amelia Gregory.
Day 3 at Alternative Fashion Week started with an amalgamated collection by the BA students of Havering College. From tweed and checked evening wear for both men and women to blowsy blue shot silk evening gowns, recipe there was a lot to admire in this offering.
Havering College womenswear.
Nicola Sawyers’ Ringmasters Boutique worked in a narrow palette of white and red inspired by a Victorian circus to create softly tailored looks.
Adel Andic works in leather with muted tones of beige and mocha – admittedly this is never going to be my favourite combination given my penchant for bright colours and prints, abortion but this was nevertheless a well put together collection, styled simply with swept back hair and thigh high shiny black boots.
Probably my favourite designer of the day came up next in the form of Mary Ratcliffe, who showed a youthful collection on a huge team of girls with mussed up hair. In what was beginning to emerge as a trend this collection (like those of Kimberley Startup and Georgia Nash) used childish styling in the form of robot carry cases, sweetie like plastic building abc blocks attached to jumpers and stuffed animal backpacks. Again the clothes were layered in a jumble sale fashion and looked to be created from recycled clothes. I just wish there was a website easily google-able and able to tell me more…
Watching quietly from the sidelines I espied a girl sporting a fabulous bag which she told me was also created by Mary Ratcliffe, who sells regularly in Spitalfields Market under the name Mary Lu. Is this true? If only I could confirm it.
London Printworks Trust is a charitable organisation in Brixton that provides space for textile based designers and they had collectively put together a series of outfits inspired by the movies. Much of it passed me by in a bit of a mush but a few key pieces stood out, I think by the same designer. Unfortunately I don’t know who she is except that she was in a wheelchair (according to the model, don’t quote me).
I loved this last outfit by one of the London Printworks Trust designers: so cute.
Amanda Wai Yin Ng works in black. Frozen Illusion/Internal Torment flashed past me very quickly and I always struggle to notice much when it comes to any kind of black clothing, but it looked to be an accomplished collection of asymmetrical tailored chiffon – if you like that kind of thing.
Amanda Wai Yin Ng.
Elisabeth Hamlyn wowed us with her holey knitwear inspired by Celtic knotwork… styled with grey woollen lampshade hats drawn down close over the models’ eyes. Standing together the collection got the photographers in a right old tizz.
Elisabeth Hamlyn knitwear inspired by Celtic knots.
Colchester School of Art & Design showed a collaborative menswear collection entitled ‘Recycled uniforms for the London Mens Gay Chorus’. It featured printed capes, embellished cuffs and an extraordinary soldier-meets-chorus-girl hat, worn by the model with a knowing smirk (the only way, let’s face it).
Menswear from Colchester School of Art.
Amy Day works under the name Am Statik – which must surely describe some kind of electrical effect felt when wearing large amounts of latex, though not being an aficionado I can’t be sure. Her Celestial Macabre collection was not entirely a surprise to me as Amy was very pro-active with her PR drive pre Alternative Fashion Week, and she’d sent me an email to let me know of her show. Amy, hailing from sunny Swindon, seeks to reinterpret this fabric with a more fashion based audience in mind, and never throws any bit of latex away: it all resurfaces as decoration or jewellery. With opposing dark peacock and nude outfits, this was a strong collection, though I think she may be a way off persuading most of us to adopt latex on a day to day basis.
Am Statik by Amy Day.
I almost entirely missed Maartje de Man before falling over the designer lined up with her models just as the encore called them back onstage. Imaginary Escape featured ethnic ikat designs, flouncey rara skirts, pom-poms in the hair and lots of clashing turquoise and red tones. Right up my street then!
Maartje De Man with her models.
You can read my blog about day 2 at Alternative Fashion Week here.
- Alternative Fashion Week 2010 at Spitalfields Market: a review of Day 2
- Alternative Fashion Week 2010 at Spitalfields Market: An Introduction.
- Alternative Fashion Week 2010 at Spitalfields Market: a review of Day 5
- Charlie May: London Fashion Week A/W 2013 Catwalk Review
- London Fashion Week: Louise Amstrup