Thursday, 27 November 2008


I've just got back from Birmingham, after very kindly being invited to talk about Sampler-Culture Clash at the Dress and Textile Specialist's annual conference. It was a nerve racking gig talking about the project in front of such expertise, but it seemed to go down well and the participants were very supportive.

I really enjoyed the day, having the opportunity to meet curators from museums across the UK and Ireland and to talk to them about samplers in their collections. I particularly enjoyed the talk by Linda Fairlie and Bruce Morgan from East Ayshire Council about their collections, including the ayrshire wool blankets, with their distinctive stripes. I have a few which I still use, courtesy of my mother (who was born in Glasgow, with her extended family all living in Ayshire and mostly working as miners). I got home and checked the label of one - The "C.B.4" Loudoun Cheviot Bath Blanket, which is great and says "Made under the shadow of Loudoun's Bonnie Woods and Braes".

Also, the story of the UK's last Jacquard loom punch card machine - tragically no longer in service. It would be so fantastic to get that up and running again, and to work with the operators to create new punch cards based on some of the (binary) patterns we've been creating recently. Apparently, the man who last operated the machine is also a pianist - it would be great to meet him. Wherever you go the connection between textiles and music raises its head.

I'm looking forward to following up by visiting several of the museums to find out more about their sampler collections. One idea with Sampler is to tour the project across the UK, producing new work specific to each location, so today was perfect to start to make those connections.

Thanks to everyone at DATS for inviting me, and in particular Zelina Garland (DAT's Chair and Curatorial Services Manager at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery) for all her help.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Well coming back

"Well coming back. 1990..chubb rock jumps upon the scene" - one of my favourite hip hop tunes Treat 'Em Right by Chubb Rock

I've finally had a some time to go through the videos of the first workshop we ran way back in May. I thought I'd share some of the events and discussions that took place during that week, so you can get a better idea of what we've been up to.

This was the first time that all the collaborators had met and, as such, was the very start of the process to explore whether we could bring the worlds of embroidery, music/dj-ing and spoken word together, using the common word "sampler" as the starting point.

Day 1: 19 May 2008.

Clare Browne very kindly hosted the first day at the V&A Museum - deep in one of the textile archive store rooms. The idea for the first day was to enable the collaborators to meet each other, introduce themselves and their work, and then to learn more about some of the samplers in both the V&A's and The Embroiderers' Guild's collections - the techniques, the meaning of motifs, the evolution of sampler making and the social context in which they were produced. These samplers would be used as the initial inspiration for the rest of the week's activities.

So to kick thigs off here's the first clip from day 1, with Clare reading from A Schole House for the Needle..more to follow.

A Schole House for the Needle

Here's the full text

A Scole-House for the Needle by Richard Shorleyker was first published in 1632 as a pattern book from which the embroiderer could work. You can purchase it from the Embroiderers' Guild's on-line bookshop.