Sunday, 20 June 2010

All done and dusted

Here are some of Matthew's lovely images.


Here we go...

So, the big installation day finally arrived last week. Here we all are, with spirit levels and screwdrivers aplenty. You can see the table in it's sections before the whole thing was joined into it's seamless whole.
I am really pleased with the lovely 18th century blue I chose for the gallery walls, which really helped to set the context for the work, and to transform the space into a banqueting room.

And here I am adding the finishing touches - paper tapers for all the glass candlesticks.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

House work

I have been doing lots of hemming and lots of ironing in the last couple of days, finishing off the napkins. They are all sewn on old linen damasks, and I love the way that the damask patterns appear and disappear depending on the light. I have had two sets made - one with a grey ground and black stitching to sit on the table, and a second white set , stitched in silver grey which will hang in the gallery so that visitors can see the complete designs unfolded. Here are some of my favourites.


Alice Archer, who has embroidered them for me has done an amazing job!

I have also been working on the leaflet which will accompany the show, and will give a brief biography of my guests. Writing it all up, I have been really struck by quite how interconnected they all are - everyone has some direct link with at least one other person, and some of them, like Walpole and Pope link whole networks of characters.

Last Saturday there was a nice little article on me in the Guardian. It was about the studio, and weaving in particular, so not directly about this project, but there is a nice follow up slide show on the Guardian website at

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The Greatest Plainess of Structure

St Mary's Church in Twickenham is just along the river from Orleans House. It was designed by John James - the original architect of Orleans House. Of course John James' part of Orleans House no longer stands. The only remaining part of the house - the Octagonal banqueting room - was added later to James Gibbs' design. So it is interesting to get a feel for John James's style and taste. There's a lovely lightness and elegance to the church - it exemplifies James' belief that

"The beautys of architecture may consist with the greatest plainess of structure"

Though the columns perhaps show a little more fancy...

The church boasts a number of very illustrious parishioners over its history. Amongst my guest list for 'Place Setting' are Alexander Pope, his nurse Mary Beach, and the actress Kitty Clive - a favourite of both Walpole and Garrick.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Delightful Ham

I was at Ham House the other day, doing some research into a few of the characters that have lived there over the centuries.

While I was looking around the housekeeper's rooms, I came across this beautiful little fireplace with the most charming tiles.

I also really love the legs which support the marble counter top in the dairy - oh what wit!
And not forgetting that Ham too has some beautiful plasterwork.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Structure and Strata

The table base for the piece is being constructed by Matt Cockrem. He has built a skeleton sub-structure, which he is now cladding in archive boxes. The overall effect reads like a random pile of boxes, tumbled and jumbled. There's something almost slate-like about all the different angles and facets.

Matt has played an integral part in the development of the piece, both as an amazingly skilled fabricator and maker, and also as a really valuable sounding-board for ideas. I feel very fortunate that he's working with me.

Here he is, building up the side of the table.

Over the weeks, I have been slowly collecting the cultery and glassware for the table top. I have built up a random collection of silver and cut and pressed glass - to match the random mix of my guests. Most of the pieces come from Deptford market - an extraordinary resource of flotsam and jetsam.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

work in progress

On Monday, Matthew Andrews, the museumaker photographer, came to shoot in the studio. I love the images he took - 'specially the details of the work in progress. Really sensitive, beautiful work. Here are some of my favourites.

This is the link to Matthew's website: