Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Another Royal Wedding Story

With everyone's thoughts on the wedding of William and Catherine this week, I remembered that some designs in MoDA's Silver Studio collection have a royal connection.

The silk for the dress worn by Princess Mary of Teck at her marriage to George, Duke of York in 1893 was designed by Arthur Silver of the Silver Studio, and woven by Warner & Sons.

Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, SD12366

In true patriotic style, Princess Mary chose only British designers and manufacturers for her whole trousseau.  The design for the woven silk brocade of the wedding dress featured  roses, shamrocks and thistles symbolizing the nations of the United Kingdom.

Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture, SD12367

We don't know exactly how Arthur Silver came to be chosen as the designer of Mary's wedding dress fabric.  It will be interesting to see who has designed Catherine's dress, and to see whether the designer of the fabric gets mentioned at all!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Beautiful Books

Last week we finally finished a major collection care project - the protective housing of over 400 books in our Domestic Design Collection. We were aiming to provide protection for vulnerable books during the upcoming move. We also wanted to make the books more accessible to students, researchers and members of the public in the long term. We devised a collaborative project involving seven enthusiastic and talented students from the Camberwell College of Art FdA Conservation Course, who have been working hard on the project since January this year.

This work has lead to us to think more about books as beautiful 'things' in their own right. We have been focusing on the structural, decorative, and physical qualities of the books in what we used to think of as a subject reference collection, and we have unearthed some unexpected gems during the last few months.

Some of my favourites have included examples of our beautifully illustrated and printed cloth-bound books typical of the turn of the 20th century; and cover illustration styles and techniques which strongly evoke particular eras and trends.

These volumes were produced in the 1930s, 1940s,

and late 1950s.

Then, there has been the occasional volume that has contained some momento of its original owner (frequently a Silver family member), providing a personal link to the history of the Silver Studio and indicating the significance of the book to the original owner - a glimpse into someone's life.

Friday, 8 April 2011

MoDA features in 'Cult of Beauty' exhibition

Right now at MoDA we're feeling a bit sad, since this is the last day we're open to the public in this building.  But at the same time we're excited about the fact that some of our objects are featuring in a major new show at the V&A Museum in London.

'The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement in Britain, 1860-1900' opened this week, and includes four objects from our Silver Studio Collection.  Two are designs by Arthur Silver, plus one of our Japanese katagami stencils, and a design for a textile or wallpaper produced from the same stencil.

We're looking forward to visiting the exhibition ourselves, and can't wait to experience our objects in such a grand setting.

These objects originally featured in MoDA's Japantastic exhibition (September '09 - August '10)

Arthur Silver opened his London-based design studio in 1880, twenty years after the Aesthetic Movement emerged in Britain. An admiration and appreciation of Japanese art and design had become strongly associated with the Aesthetic Movement during that time, and Arthur Silver shared this passion for all things Japanese.

For further details of the Cult of Beauty exhibition see the V&A website