Dolls in waiting




I went to my sewing group, St Andrews Quilters, last night.  We are between projects and while we are deciding what we are doing next, because we work on group projects, we were doing our own thing.  The main point of going is for the company, really, so I took along some doll parts to stuff as that requires very little concentration.  I have made up a pile of components for when I next feel like making a girl doll, and I think that the photographs are quite striking.  So nothing much to report as yet, but I quite like the photos of work in progress.




The fabric, by the way, is some sort of figured calico which has a paisley pattern impressed into it.  This makes it slightly raised and renders the cotton burnished and slightly shiny.  I bought it in Doughty’s furnishing fabric shop in Hereford.  The only problem with it is that it is not permanent and if you wash it you are left with, well, calico.  So these dolls will not be washable.



















Leadership through the medium of paper dolls






Well, I continue my doll making adventures, but this time with paper dolls which are much quicker to make.  I have been making dolls for a workshop that we are running at Anglia Rushkin University tomorrow (me and my Grate Frend Beatriz) about leadership.  I don’t know anything about it and am deeply sceptical of it as an idea or a magic bullet to sort out UK plc.  But I did enjoy making the dolls.  Here’s a selection as photographed by Beatriz.



Heroic leadership

Heroic leadership



Servant leadership

Servant leadership



Leadership Guardian Angel

Leadership Guardian Angel



Sustainable leadership

Sustainable leadership


Fallen Angel paper doll - nothing at all to do with leadership

Fallen Angel paper doll – nothing at all to do with leadership


There are a lot more, but this gives a good flavour of the project, which was a lot of fun.  It remains to be seen what the students make of it tomorrow.  I’ll be interested to hear what I have to say about leadership as well…







What I did at the weekend








It is very nearly my birthday and the Medieval Historian has to do work of national importance on that day, clearly, so on Sunday I had my official birthday.  We went to the recently refurbished and generally made-over Holburne Museum in Bath to see a small exhibition of sumptuous portraits: Painted Pomp: Art and Fashion in the Age of Shakespeare.   The exhibition is very small and is mainly portraits with a few examples of clothing of the period, as well as a pair of costumes from the Globe theatre and a video showing you how the clothes were put on, but it is really gorgeous.  The paintings  glow and if you are interested in textiles you can clearly see examples of just about everything you might be interested in from embroidery (including blackwork), beading, passementerie, pleating, pinning and printing.  It really ought to be called ‘Attention all lacemakers’, though, because there are wonderful examples of lace, both painted and in person, as it were, as well as lots of illustrations about how items such as ruffs were worn.  If, like me, you love decoration to the point of excess, it is sheer delight.  I was very taken with the pom poms at the knee in the example above with the gold lace hanky affairs hanging from them.  As the Medieval Historian pointed out, these people can not have done any work at all, and given that they changed their undershirts several times a day, they must have stayed indoors at court for most of their lives.

The paintings are now owned by English Heritage, and are  full-length portraits by William Larkin, painted around 1613-18.   The Exhibition is on until 6 May 2013, half price for Art Fund members.




This crop is the only other image I could find, but again gives a good idea of the lace and, in this instance, the rather wonderful proto-punk slashing on the underskirt.

Our enjoyment of the show was enhanced greatly, not, by a group of elderly Bath residents braying loudly all the way round, talking about their mother’s frightful snobbery.  Not having money is apparently no excuse for not having a pretty dress.  So I learned something there too.

Otherwise, there was a surprisingly wonderful exhibition of folded linen napkins, which sounds dull, but as they were folded into castles, fish, goddesses with cornucopia, and the double-headed Hapsburg eagle, they were genuinely delightful.  There was also a helpful video tutorial and hands-on station that would make Martha Steward jealous.

Finally, the remodelling of the museum has been a big success, I thought.  It looks like the same architect who did the Ashmolean and medieval wing of the VandA, all steel and glass, but the cafe is really lovely:




You really got a sense of being in the park, and in summer, I imagine, it will be lovely to sit outside.

Brayers apart, then, a lovely afternoon and highly recommended if you can get to Bath.






The Year of the Snake



Happy New Year of the Snake.  Apparently snake years are all about obstacles and difficulties, but my Grate Frend, Beatriz, has a much sunnier interpretation.  She considers the year of the snake to be all about sloughing off one skin and revealing another, metaphorically reinventing ourselves and being who we want to be.  I think I prefer that to a year of difficulties and sore trials, so I shall look forward to a new me emerging.

















I’m still here

long lady quilt

I am aware that I have not posted much recently.  This is because of the hailstorm of deadlines for academic pieces of work that I have had to meet – some more successfully than others.  I have been doing some textile work but none of it is far enough along to appear on the blog, so I thought that I would post an old one which I haven’t talked about before.  I looked up the photograph for a piece I am writing about the metaphor of Silver Hands in organisations.   I use the metaphor to mean the way in which we give up the human touch in organisations and keep people at arm’s length using all sorts of systems and procedures which masquerade as good service or putting customers first.  So, my conversation with a man in the call centre about my credit card which was ultra courteous but totally frustrating would be a good example.  I use the Grimm fairy story, ‘The Handless Maiden’ as a point of departure for the analysis.  I looked up the fairy story and got the idea for the project when I showed the panel to a friend who commented on the silver hands.  So that was a nice example of the arts-based research leading into something I wouldn’t have thought of – the holy grail of people who care about this sort of methodology.

This is part of a group of five small wall pieces which I made about secrets and confession for a workshop which never took place.  This, I think, is probably the most successful of them.  It started with Kristeva’s fascinating essay ‘Stabat Mater’ in which she writes about the Virgin Mary and her role to hear our confessions and to intercede with her son for us.  She explores her relationship with her son in parallel.  This is probably the only piece I have ever made which caused controversy.  It was shown at one of the Bristol Quilters’ Exhibitions, and offended at least one person because of its portrayal of the Madonna.  I was surprised by this.  Having been brought up as a high Anglican, I still have a great deal of reverence for The Blessed Virgin Mary and my portrayal of her is very respectful.  She stands on top of a bank of flowers, as is often the case in Roman Catholic churches in the Netherlands, as a mark of reverence, and my piece was made in that spirit.  My hero, Benjamin, was right: there is no way you can control the Nachleben or afterlife of a work of art or a piece of appliqué.  You shouldn’t even try.

it was really good fun to make because a lot of it was recycled.  So the pillars on either side were a piece that hadn’t worked out and the pocket on the lower left hand corner was a small purse made at a workshop.  The flowers she is standing on are a paper bag print under organza.  Her head is printed on a coffee bag and the arch is an insert into a camisole or t-shirt.  The band of lace at the bottom was left over from another project.  I liked the idea of bringing all these bits and pieces together to form something nice.

It was good to re-meet an old friend in a different context, and to find such a good photo of her.