Stitched artist Bella May Leonard has come to the end of her residency with us and our Textilefest event on March 29th saw the unveiling of her artwork created in response to the collection. It has been a real pleasure to work with Bella over the past few months. Here is Bella’s final blog post about her time at Gawthorpe:

MARCH

"This month has seen the completion and final installation of my work made in response to Gawthorpe Textiles Collection. The project has continued to inspire me, even during the formal presentation and display of my work in the Hall itself.

In the final stages of making I have been referring back to older photographs and drawings I made to help inform my decisions of stitch, form and colour. Conscious of how the pieces read together, I have been working to complete them at the same time. Instead of showing them horizontally, angled vertically the stitch patterns could be viewed better than I had envisaged.

Lighting plays a crucial part in my creative, making process. Having completed the work before I needed to take them to Gawthorpe, I could experiment with lighting the embroidery from behind. New shadows and weight of the lines created new patterns and also made different colours glow. This was also apparent as we put the work in the display cases. Gentle lighting cast amazing patterned shadows on the calico backings as well as reflections on the glass. This built up more layers adding new interest for me, referencing the intentions I made with my drawings.

The opening day on Saturday 29th March was a great success! I spoke to so many interesting people who thankfully seemed to embrace my approaches to traditional stitch. It was great to see what I had been solitarily working on now exposed to the public. I very much hope Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth would have enjoyed seeing how her craft house collection is expanding into 2014.

Working with Gawthorpe over the last four months has been a highly informative experience and I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity. I would like to thank everyone in the Textiles Collection team for their generous support. Thank you!”

Here’s the link to Bella’s own blog, with more information about the project: 
www.bellamayleonardgawthorpehall.tumblr.com

For more information about Bella and her work you can visit:
www.bellamayleonard.com
www.bellamayleonard.tumblr.com

Stitched artist Bella May Leonard has come to the end of her residency with us and our Textilefest event on March 29th saw the unveiling of her artwork created in response to the collection. It has been a real pleasure to work with Bella over the past few months. Here is Bella’s final blog post about her time at Gawthorpe:

MARCH

"This month has seen the completion and final installation of my work made in response to Gawthorpe Textiles Collection. The project has continued to inspire me, even during the formal presentation and display of my work in the Hall itself.

In the final stages of making I have been referring back to older photographs and drawings I made to help inform my decisions of stitch, form and colour. Conscious of how the pieces read together, I have been working to complete them at the same time. Instead of showing them horizontally, angled vertically the stitch patterns could be viewed better than I had envisaged.

Lighting plays a crucial part in my creative, making process. Having completed the work before I needed to take them to Gawthorpe, I could experiment with lighting the embroidery from behind. New shadows and weight of the lines created new patterns and also made different colours glow. This was also apparent as we put the work in the display cases. Gentle lighting cast amazing patterned shadows on the calico backings as well as reflections on the glass. This built up more layers adding new interest for me, referencing the intentions I made with my drawings.

The opening day on Saturday 29th March was a great success! I spoke to so many interesting people who thankfully seemed to embrace my approaches to traditional stitch. It was great to see what I had been solitarily working on now exposed to the public. I very much hope Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth would have enjoyed seeing how her craft house collection is expanding into 2014.

Working with Gawthorpe over the last four months has been a highly informative experience and I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity. I would like to thank everyone in the Textiles Collection team for their generous support. Thank you!”

Here’s the link to Bella’s own blog, with more information about the project:
www.bellamayleonardgawthorpehall.tumblr.com

For more information about Bella and her work you can visit:
www.bellamayleonard.com
www.bellamayleonard.tumblr.com

So many delightful textiles and other treats to see at Gawthorpe

Our 2014 open season started with a real bang at the weekend with textile enthusiasts and novices alike flocking to Gawthorpe Hall for Textilefest on Saturday 29 March.  We have new work by contemporary lace artist Angela Davies:

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and some stunning new work from embroidery artist Bella May Leonard:

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Designers and hobbyists alike can be inspired by Gawthorpe Textiles Collection by downloading exclusive patterns from Debbie Bliss, Kate Davies, Claire Montegomerie, Emma Varnam and Jane Ellison:

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Designer and Gawthorpe regular, Jane Ellison is also running a series of knit and crochet workshops throughout the Spring and Summer.  For booking information click here

We have also been working with our museum partners across Pennine Lancashire to create a collections trail across our nine museums that links the treasures in our glorious venues.  Here is a sneak peak:image

10 Days until Textilefest!

Here at Gawthorpe we have been extremely busy getting everything ready for Textilefest, where the Hall, and our textile galleries, re-open to the public. After months of hard work it is very exciting to be able to share a sneak peek at some of the amazing items new to the displays this year.

In just 10 days you will be able to come and marvel at the new items on display, as well as some we just had to keep out from last year! There are beautifully precise embroideries from China and Japan, vibrant beadwork, delicate whitework, intricate jewellery and fashionable 19th century fabric samples along with exciting new work inspired by the collection.

To find out more information about Textilefest and book a ticket visit the Eventbrite page here.

Our artist -in-residence Bella May Leonard is now at the exciting making stage of her artwork commission. Here’s her blog post for February:

FEBRUARY

"In the last past week, inspired by my accumulated sketches of patterns and stitches, I have drawn up new designs onto Illustrator.  These files have then been laser cut into perspex, so I have a clear but precise base for my stitches.  I have decided to challenge the display of my work and arrange the two main pieces horizontally, so the three dimensional loops and shapes of the stitches are emphasied.  Having also looked at skirt boarders and table runners, this linear presentation has filtered into my designs.  Similarly to the baby’s bodices I have been drawing that lie flat in front of me, my perspex pieces will form two shelf-like layers. It is the bright, energetic stitching I can build up that excites me - linking to the three dimensional strap work of Gawthorpe’s ceilings, particularly in the Dining Room.

I have also been very attracted to smocking and how the stitch sits on the top of the pleating.  Using plastic covered wires I have mimicked the linear folds and then stitched inbetween, under and over with contrasting colours.  This has been interesting as I am not actually piercing any fabric but working out a weaving technique.

Now well into the making stages of my project, the embroidery and materials themselves have taken over the initial designs.  The threads of washing line and wool provide bright colour and a contemporary comment on fading yet preserved textiles that have inspired them.  My choice of colour combinations are directly influenced by a select few textiles I have enjoyed.  However, using collected pre-dyed yarns and wires, the pieces are energetic and form a new response.

My approach aims to physically expand the exquisite embroidery I have found into more sculptural and expressive pattern.  The process is very slow as the big stitches take time to be threaded back and forth but the challenge is methodical and satisfying of course when it goes well!  I am excited for the work to be installed in Gawthorpe itself, surrounded by the historic interior and other textiles on display.”

Here’s the link to Bella’s own blog, with more information about the project: 
http://bellamayleonardgawthorpehall.tumblr.com/

For more information about Bella and her work you can visit:
www.bellamayleonard.com
www.bellamayleonard.tumblr.com

Knit and crochet patterns inspired by historic textiles collection

On the 17th February 2014, the anniversary of Miss Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth’s birth (17 February 1886), Gawthorpe Textiles Collection launched an exclusive range of downloadable knit and crochet patterns, under the newly created brand Miss Rachel’s Craft House Patterns. These patterns have been inspired by Miss Rachel’s lifetime passion for needlecraft including embroidery, lace and costume gathered from across the globe.

The first patterns released under the new Miss Rachel’s Craft House Patterns brand have been created by a group of five of the country’s most prolific and influential designers and makers, who were invited to spend a day at Gawthorpe Hall, with unlimited access to Miss Rachel’s extensive collection.

Taking personal inspiration from a day spent in the archives and in Miss Rachel’s Library, handling some of the lesser known items in the collection, the designers Debbie Bliss (pictured above right), Kate Davies (above, middle), Jane Ellison, Claire Montgomerie and Emma Varnam created a new garment or accessory of their own; these items have now been translated into patterns, which will be sold via our ravelry shop to help sustain and secure Miss Rachel’s legacy and the on-going work of the charitable trust.

These incredible designers were introduced to the collection and like so many of our visitors came away inspired and brimming with ideas, enthused by the enduring philosophy and passion of Miss Rachel.  She believed that creating something beautiful, through the mastery of a craft or skill was life enhancing, as well as practical and educational.  The sale of these contemporary patterns will help secure this remarkable collection for generations to come. To buy patterns click here

Debbie Bliss has created a knitting needle case (inspired by a 20th century sampler)

Kate Davies has created a stylish Tam (inspired by a bed cover embroidered by Miss Rachel)

Jane Ellison has created a hat and mittens and a scarf (inspired by notebooks in the textile archive with knitting annotations and samples)

Claire Montgomerie has created a spring capelet (inspired by a tiny fragment of crochet)

Emma Varnam has created a cushion cover (inspired by a large soldier’s quilt)

Debbie Bliss, commenting on the project said, “It was a tremendous privilege to be asked to part of the Gawthorpe Textiles Collection project, to see and handle some of this amazing collection.   Hearing about its history and the redoubtable Miss Rachel was wonderful, as was seeing the other designers excited about creating their different pieces. It was a truly memorable day.”

The items created by the designers will will be on display when Gawthorpe Hall reopens to the public on 29 March 2014 with special textile-related events.

In the spirit of Miss Rachel’s vision for her collection our textile skills workshops this year are designed to get people stitching, creating and sharing craft skills.

This year local stitch expert Rabia Sharif is leading a series of sewing workshops for us.

Rabia is a designer with real creative flair, working with hand embroidery, beadwork, Kantha work, feltmaking and fashion design. Her work is included in Hand Stitch Perspectives, Alice Kettle and Jane McKeating’s recent acclaimed review of contemporary hand stitch. We have also commissioned work from Rabia; her stunning stitched textile panel celebrating the life and work of our Collection’s founder, Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth, welcomes visitors to our textile gallery.

Rabia offers lots of tips, encouragement and personal attention during her friendly workshops, as you start your journey into creating and sewing your own designs. You can embroider a keyring on April 12th, appliqué a placemat on June 14th and patchwork a pincushion on August 9th. For a taster workshop with Rabia, come along to our Textilefest opening event on March 29th and stitch a Suffolk Puff fabric brooch.

And a big thank you to Pennine Fabrics in Nelson for supporting our appliqué workshop with some lovely felt fabric!

We also have a series of knit and crochet workshops coming up with Jane Ellison, and our very popular curator sessions exploring costume and textile treasures from the collection.

For more information about all our events and to save money with our Early Bird ticket price click here.

Happy Birthday Miss Rachel!

To mark the anniversary of the birth of our collection’s founder, Miss Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth (1886 - 1967), we are launching our new brand for Gawthorpe Textiles Collection.  

We will have more surprises coming later this week, including the launch of a new collection of knit and crochet patterns which will be available to purchase in the next couple of days…  The patterns are inspired by items in the collection and have been designed by five UK-based designers - Debbie Bliss, Kate Davies, Jane Ellison, Claire Montgomerie and Emma Varnam.  Proceeds from sales will help us continue to care for the historic textiles collection and deliver inspiring educational programmes.  

Watch this space, and here is a sneak peak of the designs which will be on display when Gawthorpe Hall reopens to the public on Saturday 29 March 2014.

Our artist-in-residence Bella May Leonard has been busy researching the collection. Here’s her latest blog post:

JANUARY

"This month I have found most of my inspiration from Whitework hand and machine embroidery. The delicate needlepoint and embellishment in the collection provides a library of rich and diverse patterning I have been eagerly recording with drawing and photography.

The minute scale of the tops of baby’s bonnets and bodices is incredibly fine. I am drawn to their delicate nature and in response enjoy altering and experimenting with scale back in my studio. The drawings I initially do inspire new patterns, which I have been translating into bold stitch or into designs using Adobe Illustrator.

Reflecting on the textiles I have already been looking at, I am now testing stitches I had not tried myself before. I aim to use this opportunity to expand my own knowledge of stitches. Exploring the potential for a stitch in my own work, I will hopefully give others confidence in using the stitches more expressively themselves.

I have begun sampling with acetate and large wools to build up 3D work in response to my initial sketchbook drawings. The exciting process to collect threads and yarn has now begun as I am thinking specifically about what my final pieces want to look like. Finding the right colours, textures and thicknesses is really important, as the clear perspex I will work into provides only a subtle structure to the main focus, the stitches themselves.”

Here’s the link to Bella’s own blog, with more information about the project:
http://bellamayleonardgawthorpehall.tumblr.com/

For more information about Bella and her work you can visit:
www.bellamayleonard.com
www.bellamayleonard.tumblr.com

We launched our 2014 events this week!
This year our themed Exploration Days bring the Gorgeous Georgians, Vibrant Victorians, Elegant Edwardians, and Twinkling Twenties, Flirty Thirties to life. In the wonderful setting of the Miss Rachel’s Library at Gawthorpe Hall, you can explore the collection in detail with the curator, and learn more about our historic textiles and costume.
And in the spirit of Miss Rachel’s original vision for her collection, our textiles skills workshops this year are designed to get people stitching, creating and sharing craft skills. With expert guidance from Jane Ellison and Rabia Sharif, our workshops offer beginners and improvers the opportunity to learn embroidery, appliqué, patchwork, knitting and crochet.
Visit our events page to check out our Early Bird ticket prices!

We launched our 2014 events this week!

This year our themed Exploration Days bring the Gorgeous Georgians, Vibrant Victorians, Elegant Edwardians, and Twinkling Twenties, Flirty Thirties to life. In the wonderful setting of the Miss Rachel’s Library at Gawthorpe Hall, you can explore the collection in detail with the curator, and learn more about our historic textiles and costume.

And in the spirit of Miss Rachel’s original vision for her collection, our textiles skills workshops this year are designed to get people stitching, creating and sharing craft skills. With expert guidance from Jane Ellison and Rabia Sharif, our workshops offer beginners and improvers the opportunity to learn embroidery, appliqué, patchwork, knitting and crochet.

Visit our events page to check out our Early Bird ticket prices!

With Arts Council funding, we have commissioned stitch artist Bella May Leonard to create a new artwork in response to our collection. Her artwork will become part of the collection and will be displayed in the textile galleries during 2014. 

Bella will write a monthly blog for us while she researches at Gawthorpe and develops ideas in her studio:

DECEMBER

Commissioned by Gawthorpe Textiles Collection, it is possible for me to have access to Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth’s beautiful embroideries, lace, costume and textiles.  I feel so privileged by this incredible opportunity to not only see the work but also have the chance to respond to it. 

In the last few years I have been particularly interested and influenced by hand embroidery.  After my second year of Art School, I decided to defer my final year and in my own time, take the year to look at hand embroidery in other cultures myself.

At the end of December 2011, I arrived in Mumbai.  Traveling by train and bus to Gujarat, I stayed in the top half of the state for eight more weeks before traveling south again to Mumbai.  Gujarat politicians at the time were (and probably still are) pushing all aspects of village hand crafts, such as indigo dying, bell making, leather work and so on, to the tourist industry.  Staying for a week or more with each NGO (non-governmental organization): Kala Ruksha, Shrujan and QASAB, I could teach myself about the different communities and their techniques, as well as try a bit of weaving with plastic!  This was a fantastic chance to gain first hand experience of embroidery skills where they were traditionally practiced.

I was taught some Aahir, Jat and Soof stitch techniques by a local woman employed at Shrujan.  Despite laughing at me because I used scissors to cut threads when she always used her teeth, the one on one tuition from a skilled craftswoman was invaluable.  However, I also began to understand the complexities of how techniques were being lost as women were inevitably modernising their lifestyles.  Foreign tourists and middle class Indians are targeted to provide a monetary demand for the handiwork, but this obviously changes the motivations behind learning, teaching and practicing the skills.  Companies can preserve the embroidery but there is a fundamental change in the makers intention and therefore quality - either less neatness and care taken, altered styles or excess working on the piece as it is made for a rich Western tourist.  Like here in England, embroidery is now a past-time or exchanged for money, not compulsory for a dowry or to prove yourself as a young woman.   Having witnessed this changing attitude in Gujarat, it is great for me to find Gawthorpe striving to preserve textiles, with the intention to teach and keep the skills connected to the modern art world.

This last month has been spent exploring Gawthorpe and its textile collection to find inspiration for my own work.  There is so much I would like to use!  With my drawings and photographs, I can start in January to make physical work in response to the patterns, designs and colours I have seen.  I will take the opportunity to visit the site throughout the next month, and use the library for further research.  My interest in hand embroidery is still very strong, but I am finding inspiration from all kinds of textiles, as well as the Hall’s architecture and history.

And here’s a link to Bella’s own blog, with more information about the project: 
http://bellamayleonardgawthorpehall.tumblr.com/

For more information about Bella an her work you can visit:

www.bellamayleonard.com

www.bellamayleonard.tumblr.com