In which it is revealed just how shallow I am



Last week I had a fantastic time in Oxford and London.  I was in Oxford to give a talk to the lovely Oxford Embroiderers, and London for a meeting of a research team.  While I was in Oxford I thought I would use some spare time to go to a show.  The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford had Francis Bacon and Henry Moore juxtaposed.  I sat in the exquisite museum restaurant before going in:


I thought to myself that although I love Henry Moore’s sheep and London Underground sketchbooks, I can take or leave the sculpture.  I actively dislike Francis Bacon’s work after a trip to his major retrospective a couple of years ago.  So, why am I going, other than I feel I should.  What a waste of a sunny autumn afternoon for me at least.  So I had a stroll to the Art bookshop in Oxford and a volume on art and the New Materialism almost leapt into my hand.  I am currently using this theory in my work so this was absolutely perfect for me.  A sign from the universe, in fact, that I had done the right thing.

The next day I went with my lovely friends Beatriz and Alison to the Bellville Sassoon exhibition at the Fashion Museum in London:


I absolutely loved it.  I couldn’t carry the catalogue home because I had too much stuff from the talk in Oxford, so I have ordered it, and I will be doing some work with it, I am sure.  Photography was allowed, so I got some pictures.  What I loved was the geometric arrangements of beads.  I loved the whole thing so much that I came out feeling refreshed and delighted as if I had been eating lemon sorbet.  Perfect.  The photos were taken with an iPhone rather than camera and at least one is blurry, but they gave me inspiration for weeks to come:






I’ve never really known what to do with those scallop-shaped sequins that you often get in mixed packs but this is an interesting pattern.

I think that the grid patterns were very reassuring somehow.  All’s well in the world when the beads are so clearly under control, a new take on the aesthetic beauty of effiency:





I also loved the painted coats from the Indian collection:



And this one where the client insisted on including her pet dog:


This more recent dress showed a fantastic sculptural quality through the manipulation of the cloth:




This one is almost entirely made of beads stitched onto a sort of beige net:




I couldn’t help but wonder if it was heavy to wear.

The one I would have had, though, would have been either this seventies hippy dippy gem:



or this one:



Maybe the one with sleeves would be better, but this fabulous yoke cries out to be reinterpreted in some way.  Watch this space.

A small added bonus was that Mr Sassoon was there in person, looking remarkably fit as he is somewhere around 80, in an elegant midnight blue jacket.  He seemed delighted about the whole thing and happy to pose for photos and talk about techniques.  Being British I was far too reserved to approach him.

On the way home, I was bored on the train so I started to draw beaded flapper or shimmy dresses with the Vellum app on my phone:

IMG_2797 IMG_2798 IMG_2803 IMG_2802 IMG_2800

Joyful end to a joyful day.


6 thoughts on “In which it is revealed just how shallow I am

  1. Your drawings in response to the exhibition are certainly precious! I was also there and I miss half of the “sensations” you mentioned, except perhaps for the exquisite details, structure and flow of the dresses!

  2. its not shallow to avoid ane xhibition by someone whose work you know you dislike. I was in oxford saturday and I didn’t go to that one either (can’t wait for the kevin coates exhibition though, he’s my favourite silversmith)

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