Tagged: Vintage Festival

Aug 04

In Elysian fields

Elysian pattern, Liberty

Elysian pattern display board, NT Collier Campbell exhibition

This is a little story about serendipity. Just before nipping home after the Vintage Festival on Saturday, a friend suggested I go see a free Collier Campbell exhibition currently on display at the NT. Timed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of two sisters’ design partnership (established in 1961 with commissions from Liberty of London), the exhibition contained beautiful pieces of original gouache artwork from the archives, plus examples of the final fabrics. What bliss!

I can’t go further without first confessing my ignorance. I’d heard of Collier Campbell, but didn’t realise the name referred to a pair of designing sisters, Susan Collier and Sarah Campbell. I knew that the name was behind one of my favourite Liberty patterns (log-cabin-ish Kasak, which used to grace the cafe tables at Liberty’s London store, and with which I  bonkersly covered the seats of my 2CV to celebrate passing my driving test). But I was truly delighted to discover at this expo that the pair were behind Elysian, one of my all-time favourite Tana Lawn designs.

Elysian

Elysian in some juicy colourways

Now, Elysian is the queen of florals, if you ask me, managing to be delicate but in yer face at the same time. But now I’m confused, because a quick google of ‘Elysian’ ‘Liberty’ and ‘Collier Campbell’ didn’t dredge up anything meaningful. And Liberty’s own site claims that Elysian was designed in the ’20s. Elsewhere it’s described as ‘at least 100 years old’. Did the sisters design it from scratch or maybe rework it? If anyone happens to know more, please leave a comment or get in touch because I’m burning with curiosity.

The exhibition made it clear that the sisters have prided themselves on being jobbing designers, anonymously bending their talents to the needs of of the customer, whoever that might be (they’ve worked variously for Liberty, Yves Saint Laurent, Cacherel, Jaeger, Habitat, M&S, House of Fraser). Their delicious sense of colour and exuberance of line has taken much inspiration from folk art. Sadly, Susan Collier died in May, after the exhibition was instigated but before it opened. But Sarah continues the pair’s work, and you can buy Collier Campbell branded products over here and currently at House of Fraser and M&S.

The exhibition was scheduled to end on 10th July so I’m not sure why it was still up last week. If you’re hoping to see it, it might be best to call the National Theatre first to check if it’s still there. I’m beginning to wonder if it was just a figment of my imagination: a Southbank mirage on a hot July day.

2011 Aug Minolta 006

As beautiful as it is mysterious

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Aug 03

All vintaged out

Barley, upcycling workshops curator

Mollie Makes... vintage strawberries

Heavens to Betsy! What a busy time we had at the big Vintage Festival in London! I haven’t been this exhausted in a long while, but it was worth it. Having packed everything up carefully for the courier Thursday, it was a relief on Friday to discover that it had all arrived intact, including the old family Singer featured here.

Vintage strawberry-making

Darling Buds to darling berries

Highlights: meeting the particularly wonderful crafting community on the upcycling workshops floor, especially curator Barley Massey of Fabrications, the Seaside Sisters, and Caroline from the Shoreditch Sisters WI; meeting so many of the Future Publishing craft publications team too, including the lovely Lyndsey (who seemed very familiar, and it took me a little while to figure out why);  seeing Wayne Hemingway in the flesh, from afar; being spoken to – very, very briefly – by TV’s Linda Barker (you know, the salt to Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen’s interior design pepper in the ’90s) from a-near [She is astonishingly tall and Amazonian, btw, and I felt just like a hobbit next her]; soaking up the fabulous swing music on the Saturday, especially the Czech orchestra whose name escapes me; seeing so many gorgeously turned-out vintage guys & dolls. There were more Horrockses frocks than you could shake a stick at.

2 vintage strawberries!

A pair of vintage strawberries!

In terms of strawberry-making, it was absolutely crammed and we ended up having to turn people away from the Mollie Makes table. We were filling large strawberries with lavender, and smaller ones with sharpening grit. For authenticity, I brought along lots of red satin: the preferred fabric for strawberry emeries of old. Some stunning strawberries were made, my favourite being the one below – tiny and delicate. You can see a selection over here on Flickr.

Possibly my most gratifying moment was when two guys (accompanying their strawberry-making girlfriends) embarked on extravagant red satin numbers themselves, and (even more gorgeously) one tutored the other because I was fully engrossed with workshoppers on the other side of the table. How brilliant! They both made very creditable strawberries, and both claimed to have enjoyed the experience, though I can’t see either of them volunteering to make a second one any time soon. But maybe it goes to prove that strawberry emeries reach the parts other craft projects cannot reach.

Truly beautiful vintage strawberry

Delicious tiny satin strawberry created by a former doll-maker.

I had a brief opportunity to explore the market outside, which was free entry to all. It was great to clap eyes on my It’s Darling! friend, Catherine Stokes, selling her china tea sets. And I got very excited by the Furniture Divasreupholstered chairs, especially the ones using melted-down kiddy-wellies to line the seats. They looked just like abstract oil paintings! So very cool.

Welly chair

Welly chair by Furniture Divas

Welly seat

Welly chair by Furniture Divas

Now I’m catching up on all the jobs I’ve been ignoring lately while riding the strawberry wave with Mollie Makes. If you’re waiting for something from me (an invoice/an article/payment/a submission/a response to a request to run a teaching workshop etc) now might be a good time to shoot me a quick email as I’m relatively footloose and fancy-free! Catch me while you can.

Vintage strawberries!

Happy strawberry-makers

Oh, and something exciting happened just before I headed home Saturday. But that will have to wait until tomorrow…

 

 

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