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:

Friday, 16 April 2010

Punch Drunk

I have spent the last few weeks, punching and stitching the archive files for the table top. There are 48 boxes in total, and I have just finished the 42nd, so the end is finally in sight for this stage. It has been something of a Herculaean task!

Here are just a few of them laid out on my studio floor.

Before the boxes are stitched, each one needs to be punched with holes. The back of the punched lids are very pleasing, with a series of raised bumps and holes, a little like braille.

The next stage is to start on the place settings themselves. These will be set into the 'portholes' in the table top. Each setting will have it's own quilling motif, referencing the plasterwork and papier mache ceilings of Orleans House and Strawberry Hill.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Embroidered stories

One of the key elements on my table is a set of twenty-four embroidered damask napkins. Each guest will have their own nakpin, which will in some way reflect their lives and narratives.

The guest list spans four centuries from the grandest to the most humble circles. One of the places will be set for Mary Beach. She was Alexander Pope's nurse, and he commissioned a memorial stone for her in St Mary's Twickenham. The church was designed by John James, who was also the first architect of Orleans House. James built the main part of the house, with the octagonal banqueting room (the only remaining part), added later by James Gibbs. I like the way that Alex Pope's name features as large on the stone as Mary Beach's.

Another guest on my list is Mistress Elizabeth Mayo. She was the mistress of the hotel on Eel Pie Island in the 19th century and was renound for her pies. Local legend tells that she made eel pies for Henry VIII, but as he died several centuries earlier, we can take that claim with a large pinch of salt.

Eel Pie Island still has a whimsical if slightly faded charm about it.

Just before Christmas, I was lucky enough to have a chance to look at the extensive collection of woven linen damasks at the V&A. There are some wonderful examples of narrative designs from the 17th and 18th centuries. Hunting and battle scenes, views of London, and even a wonderful trompe l'oeil tablecloth with an extraordinary surreal woven banquet complete with wine goblets, plates, cutlery and even some very fine lobsters.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Ruffs, Cuffs and Collars

As part of the remit of the museumaker programme, all the projects include elements of community participation. One of these for 'Place Setting' has been a series of workshops with children from Ham.

Ham House is the oldest of the trio of houses referenced in 'Place Setting', and was built in 1610. The third owner, William Murray, lived there from 1626 to 1655. He was the 'whipping boy' for Charles 1, and formed a close friendship with the future king.

Our workshops were focused around the theme of Elizabethan and Stuart ruffs and collars, drawing inspiration from 16th and 17th century portraits. Over the course of the workshops we created a series of ruffs, which are featured in our own portrait gallery, inspired by the long gallery at Ham.
Here are two of our star portraits.