Thursday, 4 August 2016

Antwerp Sunday

Sunday July 3rd 2016

Exploring Antwerp

Due to the last minute time booking for the Fellowship I hadn't done any of my usual research of places to eat, what to see? etc etc and had in my minds eye that there would be lots of time in between events to do such things. This wasn't the case so it was down to the usual intuition and a sense of not wanting to be where the tourists were!!!

So after MOMU there was a need to find lunch and we found a cathedral, a city museum, the river and a church and grotto along the way.

love the gold leaf
Antwerp Cathedral

and lunch

Saturday, 30 July 2016


Reconnecting with one's past fashion passions

MOMU Game Changers

In my late teens, I fell in love with the designs of Spanish designer, Sybilla. The fluid shapes, use of colour and drama. When I began to study millinery, I found her work again, as she also created some hats. So to see her work in Game Changers was welcoming, made me smile, dream and want to create once again. Her pieces in the exhibition showed her skill of fabric use, cut and how to clothe the body in other ways, yet not too different from the norm.Like her Spanish counterpart Balenciaga, she re-frames the silhouette. 

My favourite piece, i spent ages studying the cut

On my searches after the exhibition it was good to see that she has returned to fashion designing. Article in W Magazine.

Game Changers

Game Changers - MOMU Antwerp

Antwerp Day 2 July 3rd 2016

I am often in the head space that nothing can go wrong when you are in a museum.... 
Some may say that I just have my head in the clouds. 
But when you are in a really good exhibition, time does seem to stop. One reacts emotively to what is laid out before you. It doesn't always happen and sometimes it may happen with just one object. (The same thing happens when walking in nature or being visually aware in a day to day way too). At Game Changers, MOMU, this was the case for me. 

None more so than when in front of the pale, salmon silk, Balenciaga dress in the Technical Mastery case.

MOMU Sunday (continued)

MOMU Sunday (continued)

I was slightly Technically Challenged!

one of the films from the opening section

           Following this breathtaking opening was the chance to see a collection of Balenciaga dresses that one rarely has the opportunity to. The first case was a collection of iconic black dresses. Two of these were revolving to enable the detail front and back to be seen which worked so well. There were definitely two dresses here that I would love to try to recreate. Especially the piece with layered shoulders which had a similar silhouette to my most favourite dress. 


           Something that I learned after my visit here and the conversation with  the Collections Manager was the importance of perfect mannequin-age the idea that you just see the clothes, this is the holy grail of fashion exhibitions. At MOMU one has found this.

           The opening of the exhibition begins with the phrase ‘Tiger’s Leap’ taken from the writing of Walter Benjamin, fashion’s reflecting on the past to leap into the future. Balenciaga did this in the 1940’s creating a whole new silhouette for women. Far removed from the New Look from Dior, offering new readings of past shapes and continuing to experiment and push boundaries.  

The kimono always an iconic garment, recreated in many forms by many designers. Can it be challenged? Within the exhibition we see new ways of thinking and how the designers brought together for this exhibition have challenged the form.

I learned from the space between body and fabric from the traditional kimono not the style but the space Issy Miyake

The language brings to mind the context behind clothes and how we studying fashion continue to work with a different narrative.

MOMU Sunday

MOMU Sunday

Antwerp Day 2 - July 3rd 2016

           Remembering past free Sunday exhibitions the aim was to get to MOMU exactly on opening time, I had visions of queuing round the block like in Rome. No need to worry just the 6 of us at 10am. Same welcoming ladies as yesterday, simple system of lockers for leaving bags as in Tilburg and of up to the exhibition GameChangers

           Once again a good welcome by the entrance staff ticket checked and into an introduction of the premise of the exhibition and films of shows and dance from BalenciagaComme des Garcons, and more. To the right the first garments to set the scene of what lies ahead. The perfect juxtaposition of a Balenciaga silk gown and a Rei Kawakebu body dress. Instant lift to the heart, you know that you are in safe hands for the rest of the exhibition.
Rei Kawakebu 

Finding MOMU

Finding MOMU

Antwerp Day 1 - July 2nd 2016

The old town of Antwerp is a wonderful mix of twisted streets, cobbles and quirky exteriors. Arriving in sunshine then being rained upon is always an interesting introduction to a place. The beginning of finding MOMU was crossing the market place mid market, always a joy of smells, colours, textures and people. A fabulous market. Lunch from the Turkish stand. The most amazing wrap ever of goats cheese, vegetables, olives, dates and honey, washed down with mint tea, all for 5 euros. The mix of families, people of all ages and backgrounds queuing for food and sharing the experience, a perfect Saturday.

people watching

           On through the high end shops, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, mixed in with local designers. The Antwerp residents a different mix of clothes again to Tilburg. More dresses. Less make up than the UK, a more natural look in quality clothes. There seems an awareness of good quality clothes and footwear. The city was full of shoppers, tourists, day trippers, residents and had a great sense of energy and wanting to see more and explore more. The Cathedral visible from most quarters.
Antwerp Cathedral

Nearly there

great vintage inspired store
80's remembered

           MOMU sits on a triangular shaped block of buildings, near to the Dries Van Noten store. An open entrance way with a wonderful moving wall of images from former exhibitions and current promotion. Right next to it is a seriously fabulous book shop akin to the V&A’s book store. Walking in, the atrium is broad, spacious and light filled, designed in teak coloured wood, imposing, yet contemporary, enticing you in with its sense of spectacle. The two reception ladies were really welcoming and informative and became the key to my visit. Finding out that it was Uniqlo Sunday the next day which meant free entry to the museum rather than the usual entry fee and a free T-Shirt.... Then getting the direct emails of the two people I needed to speak to. So a gateway opened and a plan created for Sunday, meant more time to explore the streets of Antwerp.

MOMU entrance

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

On to Antwerp

On to Antwerp

Having already passed through Antwerp from Brussels to Tilburg  and the brutalist architecture of the station I was intrigued to see more. The earlier train proved to be the slow train passing through every village and town. As I found out later the Antwerp sales which always begin each year on July 1st are a big pull for the inhabitants of the Netherlands. It was a busy station. Intriguing with the vote that we just had in the UK that this ease of movement will be lost. This neighborliness and collaborative spirit.
Antwerp station is phenomenal coming out of the depths of three floors down up into the grandeur of gold and carved stonework, stations of old, promising adventure and excitement. The hotel was only 5 minutes walk away. Stations may occasionally need better sign posts or I need to map read better. The jaunt through the slightly scrubby streets to the west of the station didn’t promise greatness, hotel found, wonderful staff and a room of peace and quiet, the next part of the adventure could begin.

I was in Antwerp to explore MOMU the fashion museum. The challenge was that none of my correspondence had been replied to. So a Saturday afternoon jaunt into the centre to get my bearings and work out where MOMU was and whether there was another way to connect. Quite nerve wracking and angst creating thinking how would I build the research without a contact. Thoughts that I could just commute back to Tilburg if it really didn’t happen but not ideal.

I have never visited Belgium prior to this trip and was intrigued to explore and gain a sense of place and people. Antwerp felt safe, engaging, open and accessible. There is a sense of wealth with an exceptional range of shops and places to eat yet a society that works as a society. The first afternoon boded well for the week ahead whatever happen.

MOMU entrance
Antwerp skyline

Hats in the Wind - Winston Churchill Fellowship: Gallery 3 - the Lab comes to Life

Hats in the Wind - Winston Churchill Fellowship: Gallery 3 - the Lab comes to Life: Gallery 3 & 4 As you may tell from my posts so far the Museum and Lab at Textiel Museum Tilburg are interwoven. They share the same ...

Hats in the Wind - Winston Churchill Fellowship: More beautiful innovative textile pieces

Hats in the Wind - Winston Churchill Fellowship: More beautiful innovative textile pieces: A few more images The renewed interest in textiles comes just in time to save the textile industry from extinction. The TextielLab plays...

Hats in the Wind - Winston Churchill Fellowship: Gallery 4 - Design Challenges

Hats in the Wind - Winston Churchill Fellowship: Gallery 4 - Design Challenges: Gallery 4 The transition from accomplished highly professional textile pieces developed through commissions  into a sampling and trial...

Hats in the Wind - Winston Churchill Fellowship: The Museum Shop.....

Hats in the Wind - Winston Churchill Fellowship: The Museum Shop.....: The Shop You can always tell the quality of a museum by its shop and café.......Discuss? The joys or not of the obvious commercial...

Hats in the Wind - Winston Churchill Fellowship: The Damask Shed

Hats in the Wind - Winston Churchill Fellowship: The Damask Shed: The Damask Shed A trip through the gift shop I nearly missed this gallery space and I wonder if others would too, which would be a ...

Hats in the Wind - Winston Churchill Fellowship: Farewell Tilburg

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Hats in the Wind - Winston Churchill Fellowship: One More Thing from Tilburg

Hats in the Wind - Winston Churchill Fellowship: One More Thing from Tilburg: Pop Art Fabrics and Fashion – From Warhol to Westwood Temporary exhibition Textiel Museum, Tilburg The exhibition was on the ground f...

One More Thing from Tilburg

Pop Art Fabrics and Fashion – From Warhol to Westwood
Temporary exhibition Textiel Museum, Tilburg

The exhibition was on the ground floor in the museum located between the Lab and the historical gallery. Having had such openness of conversation and photography even with the commissioned pieces happening in the Lab it was strange to move to  space of no photographs. So my initial visit had some sneaky pictures, my second visit I asked and the guard was kind enough to say yes for educational purposes. Which with the complexity of the exhibition narrative and some innovative textile and fashion curation was really helpful to record for future reference.

The exhibition opened in the era of Rock ‘n Roll with some excellent examples of how textile print captured the zest and energy of the time. Textiles as an advertising and marketing a tool were presented through pieces from Bassett’s Liquorice allsorts, Bass Long Life Beer and Martini. This was innovative brand development and pieces that are often discarded. The Martini printed fabric had been made into a circular skirt confirming the sophisticated message of the drink and its standing as an aspirational brand.

sneaky photo hence blurred.......martini skirt

The hook of the exhibition were the pieces from Andy Warhol and Vivienne Westwood. I have a mixed relationship with Warhol. I am in awe of his ability to grab the zeitgeist of the time and be such an innovator. The taking of his work by Philip Treacy to create headwear breathed new life into over used visuals. So I stepped into this part of the exhibition determined to remove my pre-conceived thoughts and biases. I was justly rewarded. The textiles pieces were fresh and exquisitely created and charted the time pre fame when Warhol worked as a graphic designer and created textile designs. With the current vintage pattern trends the fabrics displayed were really appealing. I particularly liked the colours and shapes on the lemon print and the fountain pen print which had been made into a skirt. There were not many pieces in this part of the display but enough to tell the narrative, make one smile and look again at a designer who can be ubiquitous.

Warhol Lemon Print

Turning from the Warhol the exhibition moved cleanly into 1960’s design. The tabloid of fashion was well formed with excellent mannequins, displaying the clothes and the look. Fashion exhibitions can be difficult, a fine line between a shop display and museum narrative. The casing for the stands was beautiful. Sometimes it would be great to just walk into an exhibition and see the exhibition not the accouterments that make it. But I am away on research work, so I guess its allowed!!

Op Art dresses

Great range of Rabanne, Quant, Cardin and some hand made pieces highlighting how the look was taken on by teenagers and youths. The vitrines along side had stunning selections of jewellery and accessories which confirmed the pop art and op  arts impact on fashion and design. The scenography of the exhibition was well designed and implemented.
The two rooms to the right charted the next stage and how music played an influential role. There were some high profile pieces from paper dresses and the adverts that promoted them to pieces designed and worn by the Beatles. I particularly liked the knitwear piece designed by Hockney. Always good to see a bit of Yorkshire.

Hockney designed jumper

The final room showcasing the Westwood pieces was a mix of video, oversized objects, T-shirt design and the clothes from punk. Again well spaced and engaged the viewer. Having such open space to exhibit and showcase work makes such a profound difference.

Really excellent exhibition even more so when I was able to take photographs.......

Farewell Tilburg

Farewell Tilburg

I have packed in so much into the time here, yet would happily stay longer to unearth more about the history of the place and the impact that that has on the success of the museum and the venture of the Lab. Tilburg has similarities with some of our smaller Yorkshire mill towns and Luton and its hatting as the industry was composed of 150 SME’s just 40 larger companies and in its hey day employed 15,000 workers, producing 65% of the wool production in The Netherlands.

Tilburg has no notable industry left socio geographers would see this as Phantom industry in having no direct economic industry but social scars from the past. The museum has become a small catalyst for social regeneration. All the members that I met at the museum were highly positive and saw this as a great opportunity to create new opportunities and tell the story of the textiles industry which had formed the town. The Tilburg model could be another way to do this with the appropriate regional and national support and collaborative structure between artisans, academia and museums.

I first heard of Tilburg from Eugenie van Oirschot, a milliner from The Netherlands, when I attended a workshop with her in Edinburgh. She spoke with such zeal about what the museum and textile lab achieved for designers and the artisan community that I wrote it down in my wish list. To have finally visited and had the opportunity to see it in action thanks to the Winston Churchill Fellowship I understand that passion. The museum is a definite catalyst for change in the community and the region, thanks to its inspirational vision and a team who work together to inspire and aspire to new textiles futures.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

The Damask Shed

The Damask Shed

A trip through the gift shop

I nearly missed this gallery space and I wonder if others would too, which would be a shame as the space is beautiful and the light falling onto the looms enhances this. The Gallery tells the story of damask weaving. As with the other spaces beautifully crafted and aesthetically well designed the visitor is drawn through the museum. I had definite bench envy where the film showing the process was. Great film too. Then a more traditional museum casing explored the livery of the Ocean liners, their cutlery, crockery and the damask. A golden age.

Finally the loom shed showing the difference in the fine linen weaving and a shelf unit stacked upon stacked with pattern weaving cards. Things of beauty. Narrative tellers, opportunities, new inspiration.