Artist Textiles at New Lanark

Horrockses Fashions c1949

Horrockses Fashions epitomised the traditional cotton summer frock in the 1940s and 50s. They were considered affordable, but were also worn by celebrities including the Queen, Princess Margaret and Margot Fonteyn, and the fabric was often designed by well-known artists. The dress on the left uses fabric by Alastair Morton and the other two are by Graham Sutherland.

Aztec by Patrick Heron 1946

The dresses and fabrics in this post are part of the exhibition Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol which began life at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London in 2014. Since then, it has been to the Netherlands, the USA and Canada, and now it has arrived in Scotland where you can see it at New Lanark until 29th April. Follow the link for details – I highly recommend it. Three things amazed me – how many of the artists I had never associated with textiles, how different their designs were to their other work, and how many of the garments could be worn today without looking out of place. See what you think!

Henry Moore

Salvador Dalí

Pablo Picasso

Joan Miró

Andy Warhol

A final selection

As with all the images, clicking to enlarge will reveal artist, title and date.

Do you have a favourite? Let me know in the comments. I would love to have that very first dress by Alastair Morton – and the waistline to carry it off!

Lanark and the Mouse Water

New Lanark
New Lanark

This time last year, I wrote about New Lanark and the Falls of Clyde. The other Sunday we were back in New Lanark, but this time walking in the other direction. However, as before, we started with the exhibition in the Institute for the Formation of Character – followed by lunch, of course. No walking on an empty stomach!

Currently showing (till 31st March) is Keeping Glasgow in Stitches. This series of banners was made to celebrate Glasgow’s year as European Capital of Culture in 1990. Each of the 12 panels was made by a different group and represents one month of the year. When displayed in order, a representation of the River Clyde runs along the top and they spell out GLASGOW – 1990. It made me feel very nostalgic, especially when reading comments in the Visitors’ Book from embroiderers who had contributed to the work.

The first part of the walk was on pavement – climbing out of New Lanark’s valley, we reached the original town of Lanark and walked down its main street. The imposing church is St Nicholas with its statue of William Wallace.

After passing through the town, we took a small country road above the Mouse Water, dropping down to cross it by the bridge in the picture below.

Mouse Water
Mouse Water

From there, we climbed up the other side to Cartland Crags  and followed Mouse Water again, with good views back to Lanark, until it reached the Clyde at Kirkfieldbank.

Here, we crossed the Clyde twice, first on the 1950s road bridge which carries the A72, then we immediately went back over the much more picturesque Clydesholm Bridge which dates from the 1690s. This is now pedestrianised and forms part of the Clyde Walkway.

It was now a straightforward route along the Walkway to New Lanark, a nice cup of tea and the car – but it wasn’t exactly an easy riverside stroll. The banks of the Clyde here are steep and forested, and the path zigzags up and down several times. (My Fitbit told me I had achieved 145 floors that day, one floor being equivalent to about 10 feet.)

Our route on this walk came from a new purchase – The Clyde : 25 walks from source to sea by KR Fergus. It’s one of a great series published by PocketMountains which a) aren’t all about mountains but b) do fit into your pocket. Another series we like, which we first bought in the Lake District and have since added several Scottish titles to our collection, is Hallewell’s Pocket Walking Guides. If either of these series publishes guides to where you like to hike then I highly recommend them.

Linked to Jo’s Monday Walks. Head over there for worldwide cyber-hiking.

 

New Lanark and the Falls of Clyde

New Lanark
New Lanark

New Lanark was built in the 1780s by cotton mill owner David Dale to house his workers. His son-in-law, Robert Owen, became a managing partner of New Lanark in 1800 and expanded the business while also implementing a series of social and educational reforms designed to improve the quality of life of his workforce. Today, the village is owned by a trust – the mills have been turned into museums and a hotel, and many of the millworkers’ homes have been restored and reoccupied.

Our most recent visit was not to view the mills – we’ve done that several times. We wanted to see a tapestry that was on display, and then have a walk up to the Falls of Clyde. Tapestries are quite the thing at the moment – last year, I wrote about both the Great Tapestry of Scotland and the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry. Those two were similar in that they had a theme but each panel stood on its own. This one told the story of the Battle of Prestonpans in 1745 (when Bonnie Prince Charlie defeated the government army) so it was like a giant comic-strip. Here’s just a flavour:

I also loved the banners round the walls:

Then it was off for our walk. We’ve done this before too, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much water in the Falls – the immense power which was available to the mills is obvious. We followed the Clyde Walkway past Corra Linn….

….as far as the even more spectacular Bonnington Linn.

We then looped back on the woodland trail and had a last stroll round the village before starting the climb back up to the carpark….

….via the Old Cemetery, reflecting on Robert Owen’s words as we went. Truly a man ahead of his time.

I’ve added this to Jo’s Monday Walk collection.

Scottish Diaspora Tapestry

In May, I posted about the Great Tapestry of Scotland. Now, another fabulous tapestry is visiting the same venue – Anchor Mills in Paisley. The Scottish Diaspora Tapestry is on show until the 22nd, then it’s off to Inverness. 25 communities across the world document their Scottish connections – catch it if you can! Here’s just a flavour.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland

Anchor Mill in Paisley, near Glasgow, has long been in the background of my life. I remember it from the pre-motorway days of the 1960s when our family drove past it every summer on our way from NE England to visit my grandparents in Greenock. Now that my parents live in Paisley I drive past it every week on my way to visit them, but until recently I have never been inside it. Most of the buildings have been demolished, but the former thread mill now contains businesses and flats. At the moment it is also home to Threading West, the only West of Scotland exhibition of the Great Tapestry of Scotland. It’s hosted there by the Paisley Thread Mill Museum until 8th June, then it moves to the Scottish Parliament in July. If at all possible, I urge you to see it.

The 143 metre-long tapestry, strictly speaking an embroidery, was created from a design by artist, Andrew Crummy, by 1000 stitchers working in groups all over Scotland. It tells the story of the country from the Ice Age to modern times, but rather than give a chronological account I’ve grouped some of my favourite panels into themes. We took loads of photographs, so it’s really hard to decide what to leave out! Generally speaking, I enjoyed the 19th and 20th century panels best.

Towns and cities

Glasgow, of course, Paisley with its famous pattern, and the tenements which are ubiquitous to Scotland’s older towns and cities. Scotland’s post-war new towns are represented by East Kilbride (where I used to work) and Cumbernauld with its references to the film, Gregory’s girl which was filmed there.

Politics

I had a huge list here, but I’ve restricted myself to the Act of Union between England and Scotland in 1707 and the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 (maybe an extra panel will be needed after the Independence referendum in September?) and some scenes from Trade Union history.

Women

There were many panels about named men, but I can only remember one about a named woman. (Please correct me if I’m wrong!) Elsie Inglis was one of Scotland’s first female doctors and is remembered for her work setting up field hospitals in the First World War. There were several more panels about women’s lives – and I was pleased to notice the detail from the Glasgow City of Culture panel (bottom right) acknowledging Glasgow Women’s Library which grew out of that event.

Education and culture

By the sixteenth century Scotland had four universities (St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh), when the much-bigger England still only had two, and John Knox was dreaming of a school in every parish. By the 19th century this had more or less been realised, and a look at the detail on some of these panels will show us punching over our weight ever since. (Not that I’m biased, oh no.)

Science, technology and industry

Marvel once again at the invention and innovation coming out of this small nation of ours!

Margaret’s panel

And finally (sighs of relief all round) – the last panel, both on the blog and in the exhibition itself, is one on which I actually know one of the stitchers. Margaret Harrison, friend and erstwhile boss, contributed to this representation by Strathendrick Embroiderers’ Guild of the resurgence of Gaelic culture. She did the fish and Gaelic text which took 24 hours of stitching in all – this gives some idea of the amount of labour which went into the whole project. (Note also the wee joke with three ducks joining the flight of geese.)

If you haven’t fallen off your perch with boredom yet, I can recommend another couple of blogs I’ve come across about the tapestry – Karie at Fourth Edition and Ailish Sinclair – but my biggest recommendation is: just go!

Costumes and quilts at Dalgarven Mill

Something seemed to go wrong with the weather settings over Scotland this Easter – yes, four days of sunshine. Unheard of for a holiday weekend! We made the most of it to get out and about, and on Saturday visited Dalgarven Mill in Ayrshire which had been recommended to me as a good place to go. We weren’t disappointed, although given that its title is Museum of Ayrshire Country Life and Costume, I was expecting something larger and more “official”. What we found was much better – a little gem.

There has been a mill on this site since 1203, with the current buildings dating from the 19th century – the water wheel has been restored and still turns. Until recently Dalgarven was family owned – it has now been passed to a trust, but the family still runs it and we met three generations on our visit. The granaries have three floors of exhibits with artefacts from rural trades of the past, room settings and a magnificent costume collection (most of which is in storage – Victorian costumes are currently on display.) I liked the informality of the information, telling us how items were obtained. For example, a knife grinder was purchased at auction and then, as is often the way of things, another was donated shortly afterwards. The kitchen cabinet in the pictures below belonged to an old lady who was so wedded to it, when she moved to modern accommodation she made her family rip out the fitted kitchen and install the cabinet instead. There was also a temporary exhibition of beautiful quilts by Rosalie Furlong and, last but not least, a café. I had looked into other places to eat (there’s a hotel just down the road) because museum catering is not always great, but this was amazing; freshly cooked – and home baking to die for! You will note that didn’t last long enough to make it into the pictures.

Carrying on beyond the mill, a single track road with passing places takes you to the Blair Estate. This is private, so leave your car outside – however, walkers are welcome and it’s well worth a stroll round the grounds.

Finally, we took the long way home, dropping down to the coast for a walk on part of the Ayrshire Coastal Path at Portencross. We were just too late to get into the castle, but enjoyed the views in the late afternoon sunshine.