Thursday, 9 October 2014

Historic Magazines given new lease of life

MoDA’s Preventive Conservation Officer, Emma Shaw, explains how the magazine collection has become much more accessible to users.

The collections of the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture include some fantastic magazines dating from the early twentieth century.  They are frequently requested by students and researchers because they are interesting from a variety of angles, including both their content and their typography and design. 

However, until recently it was difficult to allow people handle many of these magazines because they were simply too fragile.  After all, they were printed cheaply on thin paper and never intended to be read nearly a hundred years later.  In many cases the paper was discoloured, many had small tears, and the covers were frequently torn, creased and dog-eared.  

Some of the staples holding the magazines together were severely rusted, broken, or missing. The rust had stained and corroded the paper, causing holes and increased brittleness at the centre folds. As a result many cover pages had detached.

MoDA's policy is to try to make all of the items in our collections available for use in our Study Room by students, researchers and members of the public who visit by appointment.  So we were keen to see what could be done to improve the condition of these magazines, and we made it a priority in the last academic year.  We’re delighted to report that twelve boxes containing over two hundred magazines were returned to MoDA this week after a labour-intensive program of conservation by expert paper conservator Sonja Schwoll and her team.

Sonia and her team used some innovative conservation techniques
which involved gelatin and Japanese paper to repair the damaged magazine covers

This work makes the magazine much more accessible to users both now and in the future.  They are all now robust enough to allow for handling in our Study Room according to our conservation guidelines, and available to students and researchers alike.   We're very pleased with the work Sonja has done and we'll be aiming to get another batch of magazines from MoDA's collections conserved in the coming year.  

And as it turned out, some of the magazines were immediately in demand the day after they returned from the conservator. Author Lynn Knight came to MoDA to carry out research for a forthcoming novel. Among the things she wanted to see were copies of Woman's Life and Housewife magazine from the 1920s and 1930s, two of the recently conserved titles. Thanks to the work undertaken, it was straightforward for Lynn to access this material, and she was thrilled to be the first MoDA researcher to benefit from the work undertaken.

If you are interested in the techniques of paper conservation and want to know more about how Sonja and her team transformed these magazines from their previous dog-eared state, you can read the full report here.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Job Vacancies at MoDA

We're delighted to be able to announce two vacancies at the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture.

We're looking for a Collections Manager to be responsible for supporting all of the museum’s activities through management of the collections database, Museum Index+.  MoDA’s collections are used extensively for teaching and research, exhibition and publication, online and via social media.  You will need to be enthusiastic about extending the highest professional standards of collections management to all of MoDA’s collections and associated information, in order to facilitate their access.  You will have a good general knowledge of MoDA’s collections and associated scholarship, and an enthusiasm for communicating this in order to support student learning and public access.

We also want to recruit a suitably qualified and experienced Curator to promote and facilitate access to MoDA’s collections for learning and research.  This post would suit you if you are enthusiastic about promoting MoDA’s collections within the University and the wider HE sector.  You will need a good general interest in the areas covered by MoDA’s collections, and a sound understanding of how to relate this to student learning needs.  You will need experience of designing and delivering high quality learning opportunities for students within a museum or HE context.  You will also be required to support students and researchers in the museum’s Study Room on an appointment basis. 
Job descriptions and application forms for both posts are available on the vacancy page of the Middlesex University website.

Closing date: 17 October 2014
Proposed interview date: 29 October 2014

We look forward to receiving some really good applications!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Middlesex graduate is part of Hasler Gallery project

Robbie Shepherd, one of the participants in the Hasler Gallery Project, tells us how he's doing so far.

"I have recently graduated from Middlesex University with a BA in Illustration.  I love drawing; for me its a form of expression and I find it therapeutic.  I like to draw without any set boundaries or plans and so my work tends to just come to mind as soon as I put pen to paper.  For me drawing provides a place where you can explore your own unconsciousness.

I came to the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture (MoDA) to look at some of the Silver Studio's Art Deco designs.  Some of the drawings seemed to relate to my current exploration of loose marks and patterns using pen or brush and abstract faces.  I wanted to explore a more abstract and care-free aspect of my drawing, 

pencil design for textile, 1930s, from the Silver Studio Collection,
Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture, Middlesex University
I found that quick or long strokes of a brush provided interesting marks and character. The other interest I have is texture which in the past I introduced digitally in some of my pieces.  I really liked the way some of the Silver Studio artists created texture through rough charcoal and brush strokes. 

If you’d like to look at some of my work, please look at my website"

It's great to see Robbie and the other participants in this project using MoDA's collections to develop new work.  Some of this work will start to go on show in the Hasler Gallery in North Finchley's Grand Arcade from November.  In addition, the graduate participants will be showing some of their own recent work from 11th October.  More details to follow soon.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Peggy Angus: Designer, Teacher, Painter

The exhibition about the artist and designer Peggy Angus at the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne finishes  on the 21st September, but you can still catch it if you hurry.  It's worth a trip to the seaside to see it.

wallpaper designed by Peggy Angus, around 1965
Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture, BADDA4726

Despite being a contemporary of Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious, Peggy Angus was less well known as an artist and designer until a few years ago.  We held an exhibition of her work at the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture, back in 2003, focusing on the designs for tiles and wallpapers that she developed after the Second World War.  The current exhibition takes a look at these as well, but shows how they the were the logical extension of her ideas about art, and creativity, and their centrality to everyday life.

An excellent and well illustrated book to accompany the current exhibition is available now.
And we still have a few copies of the publication which accompanied our own exhibition, Patterns for Postwar Britain - the Tile Designs of Peggy Angus, by Katie Arber, which is referenced in the current book, and can be ordered from the Middlesex University online shop.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

"Inspiration Examined" at the Chelsea degree show

MoDA's Head of Collections, Zoe Hendon, finds out how MA Textile Design students from Chelsea School of Arts used inspiration from MoDA to inform their degree show work.

It's always a pleasure to see how creative people use the collections of the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture  (MoDA) for inspiration.   It's something we're really interested in, because it's clearly something we want to encourage to happen more.  I've recently been working with Linda Sandino from Chelsea School of Arts on a project funded by Share Academy in which we interviewed seven MA Textile Design students from Chelsea.  We videoed them talking about their approach to objects from MoDA's collections and the different ways in which they were able to use the objects they chose to inform the development of their creative practice.

We're still working on our findings, and we'll put some of the video clips up online soon.  But in the meantime, it was great to see some of those same students at their degree show last Friday night.

Alex Beattie

Alex Beattie was particularly inspired by some of MoDA's 1920s wallpapers.  His textile designs, featuring acid-bright colours and dream-like landscapes show a clear progression from some of the things he looked at when he visited.  But for Alex, his inspiration wasn't just in the emulation of motifs and colours - in his video interview he talked in a really interesting way about looking to MoDA's wallpapers to help him resolve technical issues to do with the creation of the illusion of depth and perspective in his designs.

Linda Sandino (left) and Darshini Sundar 

Darshini Sundar came to MoDA in search of block printed textiles and geometric motifs; her work involves developing traditional block printing techniques with workers in the south of India.  I was really impressed by the way her textile designs used natural dyes and simple shapes to create deceptively complex patterns. 

textiles designed by Darshini Sundar 

For many studio-based students, the history behind the objects in museum collections are not their primary interest - they are often more concerned with techniques of making, with colour and with motif.  Jaswant Flora was unusual in that her interest was in the history of cotton as a commodity, and in the physicality of objects.  She was also interested in the idea that textiles can tell a story, and the idea of mark-making and narrative.  She commented in her interview: "...MoDA helped me a lot because it did make me understand how I could apply it [my textile design] into a narrative as well"

Jawant Flora

It was great to catch up with all of the students at the degree show, to see their final work and to hear a bit more about their visits to the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture influenced the development of their ideas.  We wish them all the best for their future careers, and hopefully we'll see them at MoDA sometime again.

Monday, 1 September 2014

More "In Conversation" afternoons at MoDA

Over the past few months we've been running a new series of events at the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture (MoDA).  These are informal talks lasting about an hour and a half, which offer an opportunity to see a selection of objects from the museum's collections, and discuss them with a member of staff.  We're aiming to provide an overview of the collections and provide a bit of background to what the museum holds.

These events will be running about once a month, and we're now pleased to announce some more dates for the Autumn.  This time we've chosen a number of specific themes, so that each event will have a particular focus.  Places are free, but limited, so please sign up for the ones that interest you:

On September 24th the "In Conversation" afternoon will be a look at some of the wonderful examples of wallpapers from the museum's collections, with MoDA's Assistant Curator Maggie Wood.
Reserve your ticket now for the September date

'Sahara' wallpaper designed by Edward  Bawden, 1928,
Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture (SW 2236)

On October 30th Maggie will be turning her attention to the development of suburbia in the interwar period, with a look at some of the museum's estate agent brochures.
Reserve your ticket now for the October date

Image taken from a poster advertising Halifax Building Society, 1930s
Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture (BADDA4719)

On Friday 21st November, MoDA's Head of Collections, Zoe Hendon, will be looking at the way in which designers who worked for the Silver Studio were influenced by the art of Japan.
Reserve your ticket now for the November date

Japanese katagami stencil depicting chrysanthemums and bamboo stems,
Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture, K2.28

We hope these events will give a flavour of the wide variety of objects and themes we cover at the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture.  Places are limited, but don't worry if you can't make it this time - we'll be running similar events again in the future.

These events are aimed at people who have a general interest in MoDA's collections, but who don't have a specific research question in mind.  If you would like to see the collections for your own research or personal interest you are welcome to make an appointment.  You don't need to be formally associated with an educational institution, but you will need to give us an idea of what you want to see.  Please contact Maggie Wood to discuss your interests in the collection and to arrange a time to visit.  

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Hasler Gallery - project underway!

Zoe Hendon, MoDA's Head of Collections, introduces the five creative practitioners who have been selected to take part in the Hasler Gallery project:

The Hasler Gallery, part of North Finchley's 10 Grand Arcade project is now open, and the project is well underway.  We're delighted to have found five excellent designers/artists who will be making work inspired by the collections of the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture over the next few months.  

I thought I'd tell you a bit about each of them here, and I will introduce the five graduates who'll be joining them in next week's blogpost. 

Aviva Leeman
Aviva will be drawing on the designer Charles Hasler’s interests in typography and print processes, with a specific interest in his collection of everyday printed ephemera.  Aviva's practice is typically site-responsive and she is conscious of the location of the gallery in a shopping arcade at the heart of a town centre – a place teeming with public lettering, visual communication, and material detritus of people going about their domestic, business and leisure pursuits.

Aviva's work uses different material forms and contexts, combining installation, public art and participatory strategies, and design methodologies. She has shown work at and developed commissions for Hatfield House, Pump House Gallery, County Hall, the Southbank Centre and Norwich Castle Museum. 

Jo Angel
Jo Angell is proposing to create a multi-layered wall or ceiling suspended art piece. Panels will be designed using two materials and processes – digitally printed fabrics and laser cut fine wooden veneers.  The inspiration for the piece has come from two facets of the Silver Studio’s collections at MoDA: Japanese Katagami stencils and Art Deco period drawings.

After an initial career as a graphic designer, Jo returned to Central St Martins to follow a lifelong passion in textiles and studied for an MA in ‘Textile Futures’ from 2006-8.  Jo’s varied design work has included award-winning wallpaper designs for Graham & Brown, a prototype window display for Louis Vuitton and an innovative shade canopy for the Chelsea Flower Show which won a gold medal.  Jo also creates and sells her own digitally printed textile designs which are made into scarves and other accessories.

Katie Horwich
Incorporating elements of the architecture of the gallery, its surroundings and local flora and fauna, Katie’s starting point is the creation of a new series of katagami stencils inspired by the ones in MoDA’s collection, introducing an element of exotic chinoiserie to the Grand Arcade.

Katie grew up near the Museum of Design & Domestic Architecture and is inspired by the local landscape. She often works on location, sketching, writing and photographing.

Yemi Awosile
Yemi’s project will draw on the MoDA collection to create engineered textiles which echo graphic elements found within this historical archive.
Yemi is a Designer living and working in London producing materials for objects and spaces. Her practice is driven by industry led research, special commissions and collaboration across a range of disciplines within manufacturing, design and the arts.  Since graduating from Textiles Design at the Royal College of Art in 2008 she has established herself as an independent designer specialising in textiles and material finishes.

Leigh Cameron
Leigh’s work explores concrete and the possibility of radically changing our perception of this material. He works with this age-old material in an innovatory manner to develop and explore the proletariat tacit information hidden in a 2000-year history. This includes developing a new context and aesthetic dialogue, considering concrete as a material; investigating its diversity, structural strengths and limitations; its weight, adaptability and content. 

For this project, Leigh intends to explore texture, colour, shape and ultimately the relationship of concrete to other materials, investigating colour, structure and light through patterns inspired by the collections at the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture

I think you'll agree this is a diverse and talented bunch of people, and I'm really looking forward to seeing their work as it progresses.