On November 28th Barbara Hodgson, the Culture Reporter of the Newcastle Journal and Evening Chronicle ran an online article in the Newcastle ChronicleLive. The article covered my millinery career to date, and the latest Making Headway collection, One Hundred Years. Barbara followed this up with an editorial feature on Saturday 29th November in the culture section of The Newcastle Journal. I felt very privileged to receive coverage in both papers. In both editions Barbara kindly included a number of images by Karen Rangley, Mark Winterbourne & Isobel Moore.
To view the article in the ChronicleLive - copy and paste the link, http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/northumberland-hat-maker-gets-ahead-8193826
Pictured above is one of the gallery images Barbara posted showing Emily Ellwood - photographed by Mark, with make-up by Martina Peluso. Emily is shown in a cerise pink silk pleated couture vintage style beret with wired lime and cerise silk pink feathers.
Tradition relates that Queen Victoria felt homesick infantry posted abroad should be kept busy. So starting in India in the early C20th, trunks filled lace, beads etc. were shipped out to them. They added regimental identification. The practice continued through WWI. Soldiers would scavenge for needles and thread to embellish feed sacks. Later pillows were manufactured and could be bought as souvenirs. The cushion above is one of two held by The Stockport Museums Collections.
History of Sweetheart Pincushions Extracted from The Vault - Slate's history blog
Pincushions made by British soldiers during WWI were sent home to wives, sweethearts, and mothers. Queen Victoria, a keen practitioner of textile arts, thought that soldiers might find quilting or needlepoint a great distraction whilst far from home.
Some British soldiers stationed in India made quilts, and sailors in the Navy often extended their sail-making efforts to recreational needlework In WWI. Soldiers often took up needlepoint as a way to pass the time while recuperating from war wounds, or used it as a form of occupational therapy. These cushions are decorated with beads, sequins, pieces of mirror, felt, and pre-printed panels memorialising soldiers’ regiments.
Research by the Imperial War Museum says that some such pillows were made out of commercially sold kits, that other examples were sewn using feed sacks and rummaged thread. Examples in the UK can be found at various museums, including The Imperial War Museum, Beamish, Living Museum of the North, where there is a significant collection, Tyne & Wear, and within the Stockport Museums collections.
One Hundred Years - couture millinery collection
So this where my collection “One Hundred Years” started with WW1 memorabilia; including the inspiration of the sweetheart pincushions particularly the vintage colours of soft rose, blue & deep ivory characteristic of the pieces held at the Stockport Museums. Along with the awe inspiring and overwhelming installation at The Tower of London – Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red; the musical production of Warhorse – where I have focused on two characters The Songman, the fedora wearing narrator, who using his sung commentary guides us through the unfolding events of WW1 and its affects on a small community mirroring that of the nation’s experiences; and finally of one of Songman’s characters – Dolly Gray. All these strands have all contributed to inspire my collection.
Above is a page from my sketchbook, with my design inspiration for the collection beginning to take shape. In my next post are images of my latest collection.
Second collection for Making Headway gets advanced press coverage in Northumberland!
As you may know Making Headway is a project based at the National Hat Museum (situated a short train ride from Manchester) at Stockport, in which I am currently involved. The project aims are to create and launch two contemporary millinery collections - thirteen new milliners were selected to create the collection, by an open international selection process. The inspiration for these two collections is to be derived from Stockport itself, history, museums and their collections, & hatting history; and through this process the aim is to enhance the public awareness of Stockport itself.
Despite being based in Northumberland I have been regularly visiting Stockport to progress the project, looking at items held both in the museums and kindly taken out of the "stores" by Bronwen Simpson and her team for us to look at. Of particular interest to me was a selection of WW1 memorabilia, that Bronwen bought out of the stores, and more particularly WW1 sweetheart pincushions. This memorabilia was the source of inspiration for my second collection entitled "One Hundred Years". A collection of five pieces, it was despatched to Stockport last Monday in preparation for the Press Launch on November 20th at the Hat Museum.
As the second collection was nearing completion I contacted James Willoughby, a journalist at the Northumberland Gazette, who had already tracked my journey through an HNC in Couture Millinery at Leeds College of Art and indeed my first collection, in his initial article about Making Headway, for the Northumberland Gazette, on May 8th. James very kindly ran another article on October 30th, featuring my new collection and its inspiration - memorabilia of the First World War period.
I am also delighted to say that the day before the collection was sent to Stockport I was able to show it the bustling wedding fair held by DawnMarie Wedding & Event Design at Doxford Hall on November 2nd. I was overwhelmed by the very positive reaction it received. Many looking at the collection came especially to see it before it was couriered to the Hat Museum - they already knew about it from the article in the Gazette so were keen to see the individual designs for themselves.
My next blog post will give more details of the inspiration and the design process, and images of the collection itself. In the meantime here is an image of a sweet heart pincushion made by a member of the Northumberland Fusiliers.