first became aware of the decoration and engraving on suits of armour, when I created a puzzle for an education pack, designed for use in the White Tower at the Tower of London. This puzzle was based on a beautiful suit and horse set belonging to Henry VIII. I was fascinated by the elegance and intricacy of the craftsmanship used to decorate what was essentially an item created for conflict. I often remembered these beautiful objects and so when I began designing scarves, I approached the Royal Armouries with a view to incorporating them into one of my designs. I also liked the idea of taking something so solid and substantial and turning it into something delicate. I originally viewed hundreds of exquisite items in the Armouries’ collection but finally narrowed it down to about 10 and this scarf is the result of 3 of the items.... Because of the importance and value of the objects the Royal armouries provided the original images as photographs. I then worked on digitally, cutting away the unwanted areas and working on the clarity and finish that I wanted. I then laid the finished “fretwork” design onto a brass background which helped to emphasize the metallic finish of the original objects . It took almost 3 weeks and the creation of over 120 images to come up with the final version.
.The main decoration is from object: iii.1358. Back plate and tassettes 1620 in the War Gallery Leeds.
Other decoration taken from: Object vi.6 Horse Armour given to Henry viii by Maximillion I, decorated by Paul Van Vreland and displayed in the Tournament Gallery at Leeds. Object vi.4 from the Silvered and Engraved armour belonging to Henry VIII and displayed on the horse armour in the White Tower, Tower of London. (I haven’t included the provenance of this item, because I believe it has recently changed)
I also worked on a second design which will go into production next year sometime.
n 1890 Thomas Edison unveiled a new invention he had called the “Vita phone”. Although we would not have recognized it at the time, this was to be the birth of the modern movie industry. By the 1920s men like artistic, genius George Mileus and pioneers like W. D. Griffiths had transformed this medium from arcade novelty to art form. Not until the invention of the internet would the world experience anything so revolutionary. These early films would come to define a entire period in time; its aspirations, art, architecture and fashion, all encompassed by an era of icons which would come to be known collectively as, “Silver Screen”
We often talk today of “Icons”, but never was this term so apt than when used to describe these early stars. This was to become the age of the first “Global Celebrities” and no one personified this status more than the occupants of this new design. In Greta Garbo, we see the first enigma, in Clara Bow, the first Sex symbol, and Rudolph Valentino, the very first screen idle . When Rudolph died prematurely in 1926, at the age of 31, his worldwide fans were inconsolable. Over 100,000 mourners came to view his coffin, and there were reports his untimely death had prompted several suicides. In an attempt to control the overwhelming, crowds, two funerals were organised, one in New York, the other in California. It’s hard to imagine any modern “celebrities” having such an effect.
Of course to truly understand the impact of these early films, you must view them in the context of their age. This was a post-war world in the grips of a depression. Only 41 years had elapsed since Alexandra Bell had first called his assistant on the telephone, and 35 since Marconi had invented the radio. And, unbelievably only 12 years since Henry Ford produced the first production car. The films got their name from the silver paint theatre owners used to aid reflection, but this paint also served to give the films a luminescent and ethereal quality. Little wonder then, that when an army of kohl- eyed beauties swirled across these luminous, screens in a blizzard of bleary sequins, that the audiences were so utterly captivated.
It had never been my intention to create a design using these photographs. I’d been working with the fabulous Tudor portraits and had gone back up to the gallery to do some more research. Just by chance I’d popped into the Gallery cafe to have a cup of tea and had sat down under a framed, black and white portrait of the silent movie star, Lillian Gish. I was drawn by the portraits’ ethereal quality and the softness of the photographers’ lens. Anyway I carried on with my trip around the gallery, but I just couldn’t get this image out of my head. By the time I had left that morning, the new design was already forming, so when I discovered the gallery had been bequeathed a large collection of these images, it didn’t take much persuasion to work with them. I’m extremely proud to have collaborated with the National Portrait Gallery on this design. The images are taken form a collection of photographs acquired by the Gallery in 2010 when Patrick O’Conner bequeathed his collection of 780 music hall, theatre and film stars.
found these amazing covers from the 1930s – 40s, in the Mary Evans Picture Archive. I had gone looking for images from WW1 and one of them had caught my eye. I eventually sorted through around 300 of them to arrive at the final 8. At first I was drawn by their spectacular colour, but I also became captivated by their bonkers text, which I couldn’t help incorporating into the end design. They were originally painted for a publication called, “Amazing Stories” and are from the heyday of “Pulp Sci fi”, the 1930s and the 1940s. The artwork is attributed to the staff illustrator at this time, Frank R Paul. Although today we might think of the word “Pulp” to describe something of little merit, In the 30s and 40s these magazines were the breeding grounds for heavy weight writer such as Arthur C. Clark, Isaac Azimov, Edgar Rice Burrows and H.G. Wells. In his article “the golden age of Pulp Fiction”, the author Mike Ashley uses the word “ephemeral” to describe the quality of the product, but it is also a perfect word to describe these covers. Never intended to be taken too seriously, they are of their time; a snap shot into a pre space age, and for the most, a pre war period in history. Viewed from their perspective, the artist lets us glimpse a Technicolor world full of wonder, and infinite possibilities. Of course post space age we know the universe to be constructed of base minerals and swirling gases, and although it can be cataclysmic, it is also cold and silent. It is still a place of infinite beauty, but just not quite so Technicolor, and I can’t help feeling just a little sense of loss knowing that, in fact, “Ganymede” isn’t populated by “cat like people who ride about on lizards”.
The value of Original I've spent a large amount of my working life in museums, archives and galleries and it never ceases to amaze me what you can find there. These days we all take for granted the ease and speed with which information reaches us, and I’m no different. We are all so used to googling images on demand that it’s easy to forget that, “somewhere”, there is an original that “someone” is looking after for us. It could be argued that the digital age makes images and information available to the masses, and of course this is undeniable, but the danger of the reproduction, is that is can somehow devalue the original. There is no substitute for actually making the effort to see an object in the flesh. It‘s only when you occupy the same physical proximity as its’ creator that you begin to understand the object. From this view point you can see how the brush strokes are formed, or how the writer of a medieval, manuscript got board and doodled in the margin. Anyone can listen to a piece of Mozart and enjoy it, but if you get a chance to see one of his original, hand written, manuscript s, held in the British Library, you can see the scrawled, notes almost tumble over each other on their way to the page, and then you can truly understand how driven he was. I suppose my point is this: It’s use them or lose them...Archive like Mary Evans and all our amazing, museums are custodians of our shared cultures. They diligently preserve continuity between what “was” and, what “is” ...for those who would hope to build what “will be” and they should be protected at all cost. My 14 year old son would say “what’s the point? it’s just old stuff”, and of course he’s right, but this “stuff” grounds us, and it teaches us tolerance, because it is only when viewed from another point in time, can we truly gain perspective on our own.
once owned a peacock called Raja. If I’m honest I’ve always been a little bit obsessed with peacocks ever since I went to London zoo at the age of 4 and a keeper gave me a feather, and then again at 8 when I went to Warwick castle with the school and saw them roaming around the grounds. I think I’m mostly mesmerised by their iridescence, because I’m equally fascinated by butterflies and jewel beetles. so when the chance came around to have a peacock of my own I didn’t need to be asked twice. In my head I had pictured Lazy, summer days with my family in the garden and the peacock roaming around pecking carelessly on the lawn or sunny himself n the adjacent fields. And one spring day my dream was realized when a courier turned up from Leeds and delivered Raja, together with a peahen we named Jazmin. When they first arrived they were 6 months old and I watched on in absolute amazement whilst they changed from plain brown birds to magnificent Persian creatures. Every day a new splash of colour would appear and gradually, over the course of two years that spectacular train of feathers developed. Jazmin also acquired turquoise eyeliner and a sheen of emerald that she could flash or hide at will. So, did he spend the long lazy summer days sunning himself in my garden?, did he heck, my goodness he was thick. It turned out there was only two things driving Raja forward..Jazmin, and custard creams. He would follow her around like a balloon on a long string, drifting off in the breeze then running to catch the poor thing up. She was definitely the thinking side of the partnership and the truth was, if I had control of her...I had control of him. Every now and then she would look me in the eye as if to say “Can’t you do something about him?” However, there was about 4-6 weeks every year when a switch would go in his head and even the little sense he had disserted him . We would get a little warning that this phase was about to start because Jazmin would disappear completely, the chickens refused to leave their coop, and Raja would become obsessed by our yard broom. Every May, Like clockwork, he would fly straight onto the roof of the only people in the village who weren’t’ so keen on him... and bellow right down their chimney, goodness only knows how loud this was by the time it reached their open fireplace. On Sundays he would sit on the roof of the little arts and craft, village, church, then, like an image from a William Morris design, he would squawk along to all the hymns. And despite the fact that we are surrounded by fields and tall trees with ample amounts of substantial things to perch on, he would insist on squeezing himself onto the 3” ledge that was my neighbours bathroom window ledge, just in time to frighten the pants off her as she pulled her curtains. Every now and then during this time, the same church would decide to hold a flower festival. A small army of willing volunteers would spend days creating marvellous wreaths and swags full of flowers and berries to adorn the outside of the historic building. Raja would perch himself on the well opposite and you just knew he was thinking... “Buffet!”. I quickly learnt to lock him up at the first sign of florist’s wire and oasis. I spent two and a half years chasing Raja around, offering to replace newly, planted, lime green plants that had caught his eye, or laying elaborate trails of custard creams just to get him back from where ever he’d had got himself stuck. Or walking into my bedroom to find him sitting on the back of the chair, because with the whole of the countryside to wonder around , why wouldn’t you squeeze through the smallest of openings into which ever house took your fancy? There wasn’t a day went by when I wasn’t caught up in some drama or calamity caused by him, and there isn’t day that goes by that I don’t miss him. It remains to this day one of the biggest privileges of my life that I once owned a peacock called Raja. So where was I? Oh yes that’s right, scarves. I was inspired by Raja’s fabulous train to create my peacock scarf. Although most of the design is created by painting and working on the images, the eye of each feather remains Raja’s.
o I’ve finally started my blog! I know it’s usual to use your blog to keep everybody up to date with new projects and products, I thought however, it would be worthwhile just using the first two or three posts to talk about how I got to where I am, and to talk a little about the designs I already have on the site. Hopefully in the process I can answer some of the questions I'm often get asked.
A lot of the background information on me can be found in about the designer, but in short, my background is in costume and design. Within this role I have often had the need to produce small amounts of bespoke fabric when nothing else could be found. Although this would usually be hand painted or screen painted, the notion that, if you can’t find what you want...you make it, is not new to me.
As you will discover one of my passions is history, so The “Wars of the Roses” design was a pure indulgence on my part. I was researching the period, and had spent the previous weeks clambering over Garter stalls at St George’s Chapel Windsor and pouring over books on heraldry in the British Library. Although the research had nothing to do with design, I couldn’t help thinking that some of this stuff would make great fabric, so the designs were already starting to develop in my head. And so I fancied a scarf that would reflect the beauty and vibrancy of the images I was seeing, but when I looked, I couldn't find anything, so in true costumier fashion, I thought I’d make one myself.
Medieval art and illumination is full of icons and hidden messages, and I wanted my scarf to give a reference to this, so the finished design...for those who care... depicts a brief history of the struggles during this conflict.
In short, The Wars of the Roses were a dynastic struggle between two branches of the same family. Over the period of 30 years they met up and down the country in a series of scuffles, grudge matches and full blown battles. In the beginning it was a struggle to control the crown, in the end, a struggle for the crown itself. By the end of this conflict, the crown had changed hands 7 times and only one of these kings had died naturally in bed.
I wanted to create a design that told a little bit of this story and to pay homage to all of these kings, from Henry VI, through Richard III to the final victor, Henry VII, who was to become the master of iconology as spin. With a background of chain mail, and a nod to the layout of the heraldic flags used to such effect during this period, the royal emblems of all the kings are laid across the design sandwiched between the constantly changing red and white roses, which have come to depict the two branches of this feuding dynasty. Like so many medieval conflicts, the causes of The Wars Of The Roses, were complex and deeply rooted in previous disputes, both sides often raging against something they would eventually become, and so the design also reflects this repetition of state, as it relentlessly repeats across the scarf. I had the best of times creating this design and It was so well received I ended up producing a small batch, and so the need for a website to sell them on arose...and so that’s it really...here we are!