Friday, 30 March 2012

Magnificent magnolia

I've recently found a new route from the station to work, down a street which has some really amazing magnolia trees. They look really spectacular at the moment, although their beauty is sadly short-lived.

Here's a design from the Silver Studio Collection which features magnolia blossoms. It's a design for a printed textile from 1927. The colours along the bottom indicate the number of rollers that would have been required to print it.

Design for a printed textile, by the Silver Studio, 1927
Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture (SD6086)

Personally I'm not sure that the little blue birds add much - their colour is a little too vibrant - what do you think?

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

What have our recent visitors to the MoDA Study Room been looking at?

Its been a few months since we last shared with you more examples of the fascinating research taking place in the MoDA Study Room. So here is an overview of what our recent visitors have been looking at:

Academic Hilary Hinds is based in the English Department at Lancaster University, and is currently researching the history of twin beds during the late nineteenth century, through to the 1940s. Hilary has already published a fascinating article based on her research for the Design History Society Journal, and wanted to visit MoDA as part of the continuation of the project. In particular she chose to focus on trade catalogues produced by furniture manufacturers and retailers, and household guides and manuals. These included 'Pearsons Home Management' (1904) , 'From Kitchen to Garrett' (1889), 'The Complete Household Adviser', 'The Happy House', 'Harmswell House Encyclopaedia' , and 'The Homeowner's Handbook' (1930s) - what collectively could be described as advice literature. Hilary was hoping that this material would give her an insight into the extent to which manufacturers and retailers were selling and marketing twin beds, and how a married couple's sleeping arrangements were being discussed in the advice literature of the day.

Another frequent visitor to MoDA is Guilia Ricci, artist-in-residence based within Middlesex University's Fine Art department. After previously looking at abstract and geometric designs produced by the Silver Studio from the 1930s, Guilia has transferred her attention to bold geometric wallpaper patterns from the 50s & 60s, including the Palladio series, initiated by the Lightbown Aspinall branch of the WPM in the 1950s.

First time visitor, Diti Vora, MA Textile Design student at the University of the Arts, has been looking at trade catalogues as part of her research into the importance of lighting for interiors and textile design, and the history of the living room.

Harriet Atkinson, Phd student at the University of Brighton, has been looking at the Charles Hasler Collection. We're really excited that Harriet has been able to make use of this collection, as its probably the least known about or used collection we hold. Harriet is looking at a number of graphic designers and typographers, many of whom would have moved in the same circles as Hasler. We look forward to finding out how her research progresses.

Hollie Price, Film Studies PHd student at Queen Mary, University of London, has been looking at some the lifestyle/interiors magazines that we hold including House & Garden, as part of her research into representations of the 1940s home.

It's great to see visitors exploring all areas of our collections. We look forward to receiving more visitors to the Study Room, and will of course keep you posted as to who comes in. In the meantime it is Maggie's last day at MoDA before she goes on maternity leave and I am sure you will join with me in wishing her best wishes. Whilst Maggie is away, Louisa Knight will be supervising all Study Room visits. More on Louisa to follow.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Katagami Style - MoDA goes international

This week we have sent ten items from MoDA's collections to an exhibition in Japan,entitled 'Katagami Style - Paper Stencils and Japonisme'.

We have a large number of these Japanese stencils (or 'katagami') which are part of the Silver Studio collection. They date from the late nineteenth century, and were probably acquired by Arthur Silver as sources of inspiration for his designs for wallpapers and textiles. They are approximately A4 in size, and were used in the process of printing Japanese kimonos. They are amazingly intricate, with very fine detail which would of course have all been cut by hand.

Other collections of katagami exist in museums across Europe, many of which are also lending to this exhibition. The exhibition in Japan will look at the ways that these examples of Japanese craft had an influence on European art and design (including Art Nouveau and Art Deco) during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

We're really pleased that some of our items will be seen on an international stage. If you happen to be in Japan this year, you will be able to see the exhibition at the Mitsubishi Ichikogan Museum, Tokyo, the National Museumof Modern Art, Kyoto, and the Mie Prefectural Art Museum. It has been curated by three professors from the Japan Women's University, the Bunka Gakuen University, and the Kyoritsu Women’s University. We’re delighted to be sending some of our Japanese stencils to this show, as it is a small but important contribution to international scholarship.If you are able to see the exhibition then post a comment to let us know what you think of it.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

A 'diverting history'

We've recently been looking again at some of the wallpapers in our collections that were based on children's book illustrations. And we've been looking at some of the many books in our collections which contain brilliant illustrations - it's really interesting to see the common threads between book illustrations and wallpapers, both in terms of style and in terms of technique and production. We think that more students studying things like graphics and illustration would use our collections, if only they knew what we've got. So, we're embarking on a project to make some of this into an online exhibition (once our new website is finally launched!) If you, or anyone else you know would be interested in applying, please email Zoe Hendon for more details. (NB closing date 1st April 2012).

More posts on this theme will follow over the next few weeks, but we thought we would start with a wallpaper based on John Cowper's poem The Diverting History of John Gilpin, first published in 1782. It was featured on the recent edition of Radio 4's Poetry Please programme, or you can hear it on Youtube.

The poem (said to be based on a real-life incident), tells the story of a wealthy London draper, who borrows a horse from a friend. He plans to ride from London to 'The Bell', at Edmonton, to celebrate his wedding anniversary - but the horse has other ideas!

Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture (SW1375)

The wallpaper dates from around 1910, and shows different scenes from the poem, with horses galloping in all directions: it would have been an exciting decoration for a child's bedroom. The poem was first published in the Public Advertiser on 14th November 1782 and became famous within a few years. The poem's popularity was increased by the quality of the illustrations which accompanied the text. George Cruikshank, "Phiz" Hablot Brown and Randolph Caldecott all illustrated various versions of the poem. The designer of this wallpaper was probably influenced by some of these earlier illustrations. I really like the poem, and I think the wallpaper gives a good sense of the frantic gallop and all the chaos that ensues.

Look out for more posts on a similar theme, coming soon...