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Pictures, Fabric and Furnishings at Two Exhibitions

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Yesterday BiL and I did one of our 'Let's Take in a Couple of Exhibitions' visits to central London.  Yes, Dear Reader, I realise it was Valentine's Day.  I duly left a card and some special chocolate where H could find them when he got back from work yesterday afternoon.   There was a card on the dresser for me when I got home last night!

  So - we headed, yet again, to the Fashion and Textile Museum to their display of the work of Josef Frank - Patterns-Furniture-Painting (on until 7th May this year.)  Do check the link, Dear Reader.  They've arranged a slide show of some of his fabric designs.  Good fun, I thought, though they seem, inexplicably, to have omitted BiL and my favourites.  BiL did himself a Frank screensaver for his phone of one of them.

  Most of the fabrics had wonderful flower and plant designs, often with each individual flower in a block being different.  There were plenty of butterflies fluttering through the flowers and goldfish in the ponds.  Many of these designs were Frank's reaction to the awfulness and horror going on in Europe at the time

  Quick Bio - Frank was born in Vienna, he saw the way things were going and, being Jewish, got out in 1933.  He and his wife ended up in Sweden, where he had a long and successful career designing fabrics etc for Svenskt Tenn, the Swedish interior design firm.

  There were lengths of the famous fabrics.  Although some could well have been modern printings from the original designs - this wasn't specified (BiL marked them down on this!)  There were also chairs, sofas and couches covered in the famous fabrics (probably not original) dotted around the display all with a nearby notice 'Please feel free to sit'.  w00t!  I thought, and promptly did.  On the whole they were even quite easy to get up from too!

  It is thought that Frank was influenced somewhat by the designs of William Morris (and other Arts and Crafts people).  They had a few pieces of cloth, wallpaper and even a chair, from Morris & Co's firm.  Of all the fabrics on display BiL and I decided that we most liked the 'Seaweed' fabric (and armchair) designed by Deare for Morris & Co!  Though I thought Deare had gotten something seriously wrong in his design.  The pretty blue flowers may well have been design inspirations but they most defintely weren't botanically correct.  Seaweed doesn't have flowers.  Ever!

  Frank also enjoyed watercolour painting, of which there were many on display.  I particularly liked one of a stand of silver birches (go see the exhibition, Dear Reader) and there were a group which we reckoned were painted in parts of London (though not the obvious 'sights'.)  As Frank visited London in 1963 this was a definite possibility.

  The Frank display took up most of the exhibition space.  Continuing the 'Swedish Designed Fabrics' theme, in the small room upstairs was Full Circle and Recycle - 21st Century Swedish Textiles.  These were lengths of graphic, often brightly coloured, furnishing fabrics.

  And, as if this wasn't enough, there was a small collection of gowns (10) from the Zandra Rhodes archive collection in a side room near the entrance.

  Good value for money, I thought, as well as interesting.  I also appreciated that they'd actually managed to turn the heating down to a suitable level, even up in the gallery.  So I commended them on that on their 'what did you think of the display?' form.  That and the comfy and frequently occurring seating!

  We had lunch in the FTM café, which was delicious, as usual.

  Then off (good thing I took my stick) to a bus stop and a bus to the Tate Modern.  I quite liked the look of the outside of the new extension brown bricks, horizontal bands of windows and lots of funny planes and angles.

  Inside the Tate Modern is effectively two buildings joined at the basement, ground floor and fourth floor levels.  I think it was originally a power station, hence the names Switch House and (sorry, forgotten it.  Memory?  What's one of those?)   This, naturally, made for slight difficulties getting around, but there you are, that's Architects and Designers for you!

  We went and sat for a while (I got out the current sock and knitted.)  We both decided that, while the internal structure of the gallery as a whole wasn't bad, all that functional, almost Brutalist, concrete construction got on our nerves and just was not pleasant.  Particularly down in the basement where they'd adapted the old oil tanks, with absolutely minimal changes - like including lighting and loos!

What we were there for was to view The Radical Eye - Modernist photography from the collection of photographs of Sir Elton John.   Check the link, Dear Reader, there are a few photos shown.  This included works such luminaries as Man Ray, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Johan Hagemeyer, Herbert Bayer, Willem van Loon, Irving Penn, Dorothea Lang, Imogen Cunningham, Margaret De Patta and many others (all famous, some of whose names even I recognised!)

  Some of the photos, being from the early 20th century, were produced by various archaic processes eg:
'Bromoil on acetate silver paper' (or something like that.  Knew I should have written it down!)

  'What's that?' I thought.  'Good thing BiL is a photographer,' I thought.  'I'll ask him.'  So I did.

  'Ah.  Yes.'  Said BiL, thinking hard.  'I knew all this thirty years ago.  Unfortunately can't remember now.'  Why is there never a time machine available when you need one?

  The photos were all mounted and framed in gold or silver coloured 'picture' frames, ie: the kind of frames you'd more often expect to see around painted pictures.  Some of the photos were really small - actual contact prints (see the man swimming pic on the 'Supporting Content' in the link - it was actually about that size, in a larger than A4 mount and frame!)

  We found it an interesting exhibition.  BiL reckoned it was a well displayed, well curated exhibition and - having been firmly of the 'white mount, plain black frame' school for photos, found himself won over by the display, frames and all.  I'll be interested to see how he frames things henceforth!

  After that we needed sustenance and a sit down.  To the Bar, which also serves coffees and teas.  BiL had a very acceptable mocha and I a pot of Assam.  I thought tea was needed (for me) and anyway, you get two and a bit cups of tea from a pot, often for less than the price of a cup of coffee!

  I proceeded to continue knitting the sock, even with one bamboo dpn making a bid for freedom.  Fortunately it leapt onto the floor, not the grill-like sections near the windows.  Then we took in the Shop, the arrangement and stocking of which BiL thoroughly approved (what with having worked in retail, among other things.)

  And thence, by bus, to Waterloo, where I had a coffee while waiting for the train.  Then home.

  The only downside was, after all that walking and standing around, my knees and left ankle were very upset and eventually took two aspirins and a paracetamol to shut them up enough for me to go to sleep.  Ah well.  They're quiet again today.  Must get into walking around more.  Losing weight wouldn't go amiss either.

  And that was yesterday, many thanks to BiL (in his guise as Native Guide.)  Two exhibitions ticked off the list.  Possibly another trip in the planning.  How was your day, Dear Reader?
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
cheerful cheerful
Current Music:
Pictures at an Exhibition - Prokofiev
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