Now looking at this opening photograph you’re perhaps asking, ‘Is this preparation for a literary function?’ ‘Has Agnes decided to write, make, craft a book about painting silk?’ Well, actually no.
Yes, you’ve guessed correctly – it’s silk painting, but not scarves. Technically the work is being drawn and painted in a similar way, but it has a different starting point. Initially, wearing my art historian’s hat, I revisited my thoughts and interpretations on the Ranworth rood screen. I reread my notes and thoroughly looked through my 100 plus photos of the beautiful yet gently faded apostles and saints. Then I worked up some ideas.
After painting a couple of muted and faded pieces I decided to stick with the time-worn old gold tradition but add in some rich crimsons and deep blues. I think these colours would have been familiar to a medieval cloth merchant, however, including so much zingy turquoise might be too 21st century for a 15th-century sensibility.
Oh yes and the show – it’s a Parallax Art Fair, in Chelsea Town Hall, London, in February 2016.
From the spring of this year, the British women’s fashion brand ‘Jigsaw’ has been running an ad campaign with the strapline “For life not landfill”. There has been a media wall running along the walkway at Oxford Circus underground station showing Jigsaw posters in front of an enormous photograph of a landfill mountain.
It is an interesting theme for a contemporary fashion brand to highlight. The snappy slogan, “For life not landfill”, also appears at the top of a series of magazine advertisements showing vintage clothing paired with a new, Jigsaw garment. Naturally, in other parts of the world and in our past the idea that we would consign cloth to landfill would be an outrage. Clothing was worn, restyled, passed down, patched and repaired. Textiles were routinely recycled.
My mother was a great collector of scarves and when she died I inherited some of her ‘heirloom’ pieces which poignantly (but I guess not really surprisingly) included some of my early work. So here is my version of ‘For life not landfill’. Top of this blog post photo shows silk scarf (1993) paired with my vintage navy blue wool and cashmere coat purchased secondhand in 1988. And, below, same crepe de chine silk scarf with contemporary linen shirt and suede skirt finished with a leather belt (1975).
But our best family clothing heirloom is a brick-red, mid-weight wool waistcoat made by my mother in the 1950s. She made this waistcoat and also a skirt from a wool coat. She had originally bought the coat from a shop on Oxford Street, London, when she first started work. She passed on her waistcoat to me when I was a teenager.
I would post a photo of it, but the waistcoat is now with my daughter back in London. However, I’ve still got the original paper pattern which my mother used. So, that’s a coat restyled to a waistcoat and worn by three generations – 1948, 1979 and 2015!
And, finally, a quick reminder whilst we are on the theme of buying quality, so-called heirloom pieces, it is ‘Buy British Day’ this Saturday, October 3rd which coincidentally was my mother’s birthday.
Scrolling through multiple images from the last clutch of fashion shows it struck me that hair and make-up was moving towards the austere or even harsh. Several shows have models with pale faces featuring that modish special accent, heavy, dark eye-brows. The look is completed with the face framed by tightly styled and restrained hair.
Here this model from a recent Chanel show featured in Vogue UK looks quite irritated in colour, but positively scary in black and white.
Some of these looks combined with the contemporary model countenance, the ‘blank stare’, made me think of mugshots for police records rather than the refined world of haute couture.
However, looking through some of my own recent shots, both in colour and as black and white, I think you can see that it is the facial expression, particularly round the eyes, that makes the tone of the overall image menacing or not and not really the hair or make-up or those eye-brows!