Sunday, 17 October 2010

London day out - packing it all in

Rest of the family all occupied, so a day out in London on my own - no-one to say " this is REALLY boring". Starting from the lovely person I sat next to on the train, who had read many of the same books, to the return journey on the bus where all timings worked, what a fantastic day.
First stop, Bermondsey Street SE1 to the Fashion and Textile museum, and on the way interesting patterns: reflections in the pub window, swirls on the sandstone paving and underlighting with a changing rainbow of lights under the railway bridge.

Then intriguing buildings with some history, The Time and Talents Settlement

Bonkers shops only found in a prosperous city.

Trying on wantable shoes from United Nude, and then to the Horrockses exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum. On until 28th October, get there if you can. Beautiful clothes, moving reminiscences, fabric samples, insight into the textile designers' processes, well laid out and spacious rooms. The textile designs were particularly interesting to see, especially the architectural prints printed out lengthwise down the fabric bolt to allow 5 yards of skirt to have a continuous design around the circumference. The designers of the fabrics evidently had very free rein within the company and could take influences from exhibitions, nature, architecture, and even food.

An added bonus was the "Design and Gerontology" exhibition which is a collection of garments made as a result of GCSE students being challenged to produce clothing that included aspects of how the human body is affected by ageing. Very interesting final garments were produced, although some of the students need help in how to articulate those ideas when speaking about them.
After a quick coffee in the bright cafe, on to the London Glassblowing Workshop to see Essence: an exhibition of studio glass from the British Glass Biennale. Amazing pieces here, but it finishes on Wednesday. An added bonus is that Peter Layton runs glassblowing classes in the same space, so you get a view of his teaching and how students are getting on with their glassblowing. The techniques are very tactile, which seems strange for a molten object that could burn your hand off if handled incorrectly. My favourite piece was this, a 2 inch think piece of glass densely rippled on one side to allow the light to come through in differing shades of amber. Beyond my price range though and I also forgot to get the maker's name.

Next stop The Handweaver's Studio, in Finsbury Park. ( On the way, London juxtapositions: women in full black chadors alongside hordes of home fans going to the Arsenal home game at the Emirates stadium.) The Handweaver's Studio sounds as if it is full of hemp and sandals, but it is full of the most incredible yarns in all textures, colours and weights. Sold by weight, and with many high tech and specialist yarns like soluble, super-stretchy, holographic, meltable ( is that a word) it is heaven. Beautiful winds of wool tops, carded for weaving and felting are strewn around in baskets, just waiting to be picked up and stroked.

The shop's assistants are fellow fibre enthusiasts and really understand the need to handle a yarn before buying it. displayed among the wonderful shelves, are woven textiles of the highest quality in silks, linens and rayons, colours bounding everywhere. This is a must visit shop for all textile enthusiasts.
After a bagel, eaten on the tube ( certainly got value out of my travelcard) , off to the Sir John Soanes Museum. This has been on my list of must sees for too long, so it was wonderful to finally get there. The sense of anticipation builds as it is necessary to queue on a Saturday. A highlight for me was the astonishing picture room, and the guide evidently delights in revealing its hidden aspects to visitors. The original Hogarth paintings of The Rake's Progress are here and it is possible to get very close to see all of the hidden detail.

The candlelit vaults are unique and not for the claustrophobic.

On the way back to the tube, a chance passing of Shepherd's and Falkiners, and some time inside to ooh and aaah at the stunning hand-made papers: Japanese, Italian , French and British. the peacock in the window, made entirely of paper did not photograph well, but this close-up of the tail gives some impression of the delicacy of the papers inside.

Lastly a quick whizz around Covent Garden and environs: hats in the window at Stephen Jones, themed for the London Film Festival
fabric origami and vintage sewing machines in window displays.

Home for 6pm, mind buzzing.

1 comment:

  1. A great day in town - this resident needs to follow your itinerary, though I'm sad to have missed the Horrockses exhibition - it just slipped past me...
    Thanks for the heads-up about Handweavers Studio new location - it's within walking distance for me.


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