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.

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