Also for Selvedge, a short piece about the fishy work of Kate Jenkins’ Stitchmonger project
It’s time for another day out with Rowan. Last time we went to the Clothworkers’ Centre in Kensington. This time we’re going to the Fashion and Textiles Museum in Bermondsey to see the new Liberty in Fashion exhibition. The exhibition celebrates the 140th anniversary of the iconic design store. This is the first major retrospective of the 21st century on the pioneering retailer and design studio Liberty. At the cutting edge of design and the decorative arts since 1875, Liberty is celebrated throughout the world both as a department store and for its distinctive textile prints.
We’ll also be meeting and hearing from the indominatable Zandra Rhodes, designer extraordinaire and founder of the museum. Her studio is next door so she won’t have far to come.
Coming all the way from Herefordshire is artist Dee Hardwicke who will be giving us a workshop on designing an intarsia pattern with Rowan Tweed (all materials included of course). After all that inspiration there has to be an outlet (and some knitting). I can’t wait, which is okay as it’s on November 24, so really soon.
Interweave Knits’ Fall Issue is all about Blighty and the Best of British. I have a short piece at the back appropriately named Ravelings. As part of the research I went to meet the lovely Felix Ford who has written a great book about colour stranding and where to get your inspiration, the Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook. After reading it I rushed out to get a new sketchbook with squared paper and sharpened my coloured pencils.
Felix is also a sound artist and makes many field-recordings, something I hadn’t really considered before. My article is about the sound of knitting and how our environment can affect what and how we knit in subtle ways. Jobina Tinnemann’s composition Killing Time uses knitting as a way to recreate the sound of the landscape in Pembrokeshire where she lives. I was lucky enough to be part of one performance in Cardiff last year. All these things make our aural landscape more present and relevant.
Image above: Killing Time on Pwll Deri, Pembrokeshire. Photo: Philip Clarke
I enjoyed seeing the Hepworth Exhibition at Tate Britain last weekend and was interested to see photographs of the studio where she lived and worked in Hampstead. I’m happily staying in Parkhill Road a stone’s throw from Hepworth’s studio and lived next-door at No 8 the Mall Studios for a year.
At the bottom of our garden in Parkhill Road is an old gate that would have opened onto a terrace of Victorian artist’s studios. Hidden away in down a shady alley, the Mall Studios were purpose-built by Thomas Batterbury in 1872 with high ceilings, skylights and huge sash windows to let in as much light as possible. At No 8, No 8, Mall Studios was home to Walter Sickert (1860–1942) and the lease was taken on by John Cecil Stephenson (1889–1965) and then lived in by another painter. Up some steep stairs was a balcony with racks for storing stretchers and canvases – it still smells of turpentine.
Barbara Hepworth lived at No 7, Mall Studios, 1932 with her first husband John Skeaping and then with Ben Nicholson. Hepworth had triplets while living there though managed to continue to produce some work. The studios are quite small for a couple working at home with 4 children, though Hepworth shows great pragmatism in her letters that show she rented two other studios in the same row, one for Nicolson and another for the children and nanny. Photographs show her working in a low extension in the garden with a corrugated-iron roof, which is no longer there. Other neighbours on the Mall were sculptor James Oakley (1878–1959) at No 5 and writer and art critic Herbert Read at No 3.
Just around the corner were Bauhaus architect Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, Agatha Christie, László Moholy-Nagy and Jack Pritchard in Wells Coates’ Isokon Lawn Road Flats (1933). Alexander Calder and Naum Gabo, CRW Nevinson, Roland Penrose and Paul Nash were locals too. Hepworth’s cousin Jack Hepworth (1911-2003) lived at 22 Parkhill Road, exhibiting under the name Arthur Jackson. When Piet Mondrian left France, their artist friends found him a space to live and work in 60 Parkhill Road backing onto the Mall. Henry Moore also lived at 11a Parkhill Road and took over the No 7 when Hepworth and Nicolson left London for St Ives.
In 1940 the Mall Studios suffered bomb damage (you can see the location on Bomb Sight ).
These are exactly what the name implies: lace for necks. All are made with Irish crochet techniques from natural materials. Last year I had fun using only natural colours, but I’ve got a bit over-excited by the combinations this time round – they look great worn in sets.