Artist Textiles: Picasso to Warhol - Part 1

I visited this exhibition ARTIST TEXTILES: PICASSO to WARHOL at the wonderfully picturesque and historic New Lanark Visitor Centre OVER A YEAR AGO.

Planning to share the delights at the time, it seems that life happened and I didn’t manage it. Having recently stumbled upon the trove of images I took as I wandered round the carefully curated space, I realised the time to share them is NOW.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

Tracing the history of 20th century ART in TEXTILES, the exhibition features a host of feted designers across key art movements such as Fauvism, Cubism, Constructivism, Abstraction, Surrealism and Pop Art.

With any exhibition like this featuring designs from the past, there is no real ‘expiry’ date to the inspiration and wonder. It first ran at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London circa 2014, but has been on tour ever since, only finishing next week (6th May) at the Modern Art Museum in Shanghai.

“I’ve spent my life ministering to the swinish luxury of the rich.”

William Morris, Textiles Designer, 1876

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

The florals here are timeless and have a collaged vibe. The colour palette is refined, beautiful and graceful, bringing to mind afternoon tea in a stately home.

Quickly we move on to geometrics and Russian aeroplanes, the latter roller-printed on cotton circa 1920’s. I love their simple, fun form and can imagine dressing my little boy in an outfit featuring such a delightful print.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Gerald Wilde, screen-printed silk fashion textile, 1944

Gerald Wilde, screen-printed silk fashion textile, 1944

“After the second world war, artists methods and the subjects they portrayed began to embrace the dynamism of contemporary life. They focused not on representational images, but on pattern, colour and abstraction. This new style translated perfectly into textile design.”

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

The art itself is telling a story, whether in block-print repeat or through the stark yet abundant landscapes that make a dramatic statement through their imaginative use of colour. I love the whispering women below, ‘Gossips’ by Textile Designer Virginia Lee Burton with their huge bustled skirts. Are they friend or foe? I would LOVE a skirt or dress in that print! (It was also available as a gorgeous deep green.)

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

Moving on to the bright-brights, I lingered around these Surrealist silk headscarves by Salvador Dali, none of which would look out of place AT ALL in a boutique anywhere in the world RIGHT THIS SECOND.

I admire his bold use of colour and almost naive rendering of the abstract shapes. I don’t think he would mind me saying that. He always appeared so friendly with his tapered moustache and mischievous eyes…

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

Am I right in thinking these are telephones hanging on a wall in an underwater cave, or a train tunnel, or simply floating in a swimming pool?

It’s like taking a trip each time you look at these as the multiple layers of meaning in the art reveal themselves as though in a mass Rorschach experiment. I remember circling back a few times to stare into them as though I was furiously churning the end of a kaleidoscope.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

“Surrealism aimed to revolutionise human experience, rejecting a rational vision of life in favour of one that asserted the value of the unconscious and dreams, championing the irrational, the poetic and the revolutionary.”

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

Sticking with the brights this angelic/cherub, parcels of florals, a woman with carrots and onions in her hair and a quartet of female-clown faces.

Maybe I’m being too literal and I sound perhaps like these pieces weren’t/aren’t to my taste, but quite the contrary. I love the energy in the lines and the distinctive style that flows through the artist’s hand (Marcel Vertes).

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

Faces are a perennial attraction in design - mostly female faces. The image below is not a good photograph, but I love this Picasso print with the dove at the centre in primary colours with the text around the outside. It’s like the four faces of the world, designed clearly for the ‘Festival Mundial’ in Berlin, 1951.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

The array of prints was dizzying with far too many to describe or include here, but taken together these had my synapses firing and inspire(d) me to work harder on my own art and surface pattern design.

There is nothing better to ‘fill your creative bucket’ than an exhibition like this featuring some of the best designers of the last century, plus.

I haven’t even started on the fashion part yet or the Warhol prints.

I’m saving those for Part 2 :)

Angelo Testa, screen-printed cotton wall-hanging, 1947

Angelo Testa, screen-printed cotton wall-hanging, 1947

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

I’m going to finish Part 1 with this - ‘A Fish is a Fish is Fish’ by Ken Scott.

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

As a Piscean, I’m always inspired by and interested in fish prints and the sea. Curiously, there were a few different hen prints too. Quite interesting how they could easily be imagined on upholstery or even fashion, particularly the smaller, non-directional ditzy print?

Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone
Artist Textiles - Picasso to Warhol by Rebecca Johnstone

Part 2 of this exhibition post coming next week.

Cocka-doodle-doo (like no revered artist of the 20th century would ever say…)

NB. I’ve credited the artists where possible, but as I saw this exhibition a year ago, some of the details that I would have had fresh in my mind, have gone. Apologies! I remember I’d wanted to purchase the book that was produced in conjunction with this exhibition, however it was sold out at the time and I think is perhaps no longer in print - unless they have it in Shanghai?

LISTEN to this post in a Male US/Scottish Accent:

Hannah Frank 110th Birthday Exhibition

I was lucky to catch the last day of the Hannah Frank 110th Birthday Exhibition this week, on display at the University of Glasgow Memorial Chapel.

Hannah Frank 110th Birthday Exhibition, Rebecca Johnstone

Consisting of a small selection of her work grouped according to three distinctive ‘eras’ of her style + printing templates and personal ephemera, it gave me plenty to immerse in as I entered her beautiful, often intricate world of black and white.

Hannah Frank 110th Birthday Exhibition, Rebecca Johnstone

Her designs are ethereal and dreamy, exquisite in their confident lines that express so much, often in extreme simplicity.

Female portraits and sideways glances. Liquid eyes filled with sorrow or something deeper and more mysterious. Swarming tendrils of hair, a fish swimming through like it is instead seaweed on the ocean floor.

Hannah Frank 110th Birthday Exhibition, Rebecca Johnstone

A weird spell cast by a wandering elf

That charms with fingers cold

Haunting and beautiful, I see a mother and a child in both the image above and below. I wonder if that is because I am viewing it through the filter of being a (relatively) new mum myself? Hannah Frank had no children so perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps they are nymphs or sprites or spirits or just beautiful, sad girls?

Hannah Frank 110th Birthday Exhibition, Rebecca Johnstone
Hannah Frank 110th Birthday Exhibition, Rebecca Johnstone
Hannah Frank 110th Birthday Exhibition, Rebecca Johnstone
Hannah Frank 110th Birthday Exhibition, Rebecca Johnstone
Hannah Frank 110th Birthday Exhibition, Rebecca Johnstone
Hannah Frank 110th Birthday Exhibition, Rebecca Johnstone

These intricate printing plates were a wonderful surprise I hadn’t expected to find. Their shimmering gold and silver surfaces added an even stronger Egyptian/Eastern flavour for me, and when one of the curators told me it was OK to touch them and even take etchings, I happily grabbed a pencil and paper.

Hannah Frank 110th Birthday Exhibition, Rebecca Johnstone
Hannah Frank 110th Birthday Exhibition, Rebecca Johnstone

The bird symbolism was strong, and I got the sense that the birds held an ominous portent.

The stars and florals and swirling shapes put me in mind of Mucha, and the masculine female faces and lettering of Alistair Gray. Art Nouveau influences wrought in fluid darkness.

Hannah Frank 110th Birthday Exhibition, Rebecca Johnstone

Another allusion to Egyptology - the illustrated lines below published in the Glasgow University Magazine, Christmas 1934 - pictured in a cabinet alongside her official wedding invitation and other papers.

‘I am thy soul, Nikoptis.

I have read out the gold upon the wall,

And wearied out my thought upon the signs.

And there is no new thing in all this place. ‘

From the poem The Tomb At Akr Çaar by Ezra Pound.

Hannah Frank 110th Birthday Exhibition, Rebecca Johnstone

I hadn’t realised before seeing this exhibition that Hannah Frank had turned her attention to sculpture in the 1950’s. Well-expressed female forms in plaster and bronze, they often had long, regal necks, again quite Egyptian in style.

Hannah Frank 110th Birthday Exhibition, Rebecca Johnstone

I like the relaxed, casual poses they strike, although I think I prefer her black and white drawings the best, for which she is probably better known.

Hannah Frank 110th Birthday Exhibition, Rebecca Johnstone

From the very beginning of her career, her style was so obviously hers. Undeniably so. Distinctive and pure.

This is a lesson I needed to see because I’ve struggled to hone my own identify as an artist, purely because I enjoy trying lots of different styles of work.

Success comes from recognition and that can only truly occur when as an artist, you focus, focus, focus and hone in on your specific niche. Thank you Hannah Frank for this nugget of gold!

Hannah Frank 110th Birthday Exhibition, Rebecca Johnstone

I did once ‘meet’ Hannah in person - at her 100th birthday exhibition, just before she died.

What a fantastic, spirited and talented woman she was.

Please note, this exhibition is now finished, though there are some signed prints left in the GU Shop. I couldn’t leave without buying the book!

Paisley Thread Mill Museum

Earlier this week I got the chance to attend an evening at the Paisley Thread Mill Museum to celebrate the 'relaunched' display of their amazing archive of sewing supplies, patterns, patents and tools from when the mill was operational (and from sources further afield).

Paisley Thread Mill Museum, Rebecca Johnstone

Reels of cotton are suspended from the ceiling in the foyer in a rainbow of colours providing a vibrant 'welcome'.

Thread Mill Museum, Paisley, Rebecca Johnstone

The archive is displayed in glass cabinets on the mezzanine level, including many pieces gifted to the museum from people in the local area. The aim is to preserve the social and industrial heritage and history of the Paisley and Renfrewshire Thread Mills for future education and enjoyment.

Thread Mill Museum, Paisley, Rebecca Johnstone

I've always been a sucker for vintage artefacts, but seeing the old spools and now-vintage packaging with the old-fashioned designs; I was in my element.

Just look at the colours! And the typography!

Thread Mill Museum, Paisley, Rebecca Johnstone

We heard poetry featuring the 'Mill Girls' and I imagined snippets of what their lives might have been like, starting work there at 12 or 14; hard graft during the week culminating in the anticipation of going 'to the dancing' at the weekend.

Thread Mill Museum, Paisley, Rebecca Johnstone

I love this miniature sewing machine with the ornate decoration on the side. How sweet but how many stitches has it sewn? How many hands have turned that wheel? What was it's primary sewing function? Finishing tiny pieces perhaps, or hemming, or making lace?

Thread Mill Museum, Paisley, Rebecca Johnstone

The display of all these different types of thread and sewing tools is gorgeous and so inviting, making me want to dig out my sewing box and start making something fabulous or reworking an older, vintage piece - make do and mend at its best!

I have my own stash of Anchor mill embroidery threads too in an array of colours (like many people), but it's funny to think they all originally came from this Thread Mill in the heart of Paisley.

Thread Mill Museum, Paisley, Rebecca Johnstone
Thread Mill Museum, Paisley, Rebecca Johnstone

Looking at these things reminds me of my Nana's old sewing basket and the carded wool I inherited from her, along with a love of knitting (and the know-how - my Nana taught me to knit and there's really nothing like learning first-hand like that). Her knitting always held a faint whiff of talcum powder and her favourite 'toilet water'.

So many memories are held, suspended in time, in these things that we keep and treasure and unwittingly bestow on our children and grandchildren.

I wonder if my son will be interested in these things one day? Probably not!

Thread Mill Museum, Paisley, Rebecca Johnstone
Thread Mill Museum, Paisley, Rebecca Johnstone
Thread Mill Museum, Paisley, Rebecca Johnstone

I remember playing with old cotton reels like they were something so wondrous. The shiny gold of the end-label livery looks so regal here.

Thread Mill Museum, Paisley, Rebecca Johnstone

Reels of cotton ready for weaving? Warp and weft forming the pattern, right to left and left to right.

Thread Mill Museum, Paisley, Rebecca Johnstone
Thread Mill Museum, Paisley, Rebecca Johnstone

Seeing this old spinning wheel had me thinking of fairy tales like Rumpelstiltskin; weaving straw into gold. The production of textiles that will outlast us all certainly seems like alchemy.

Thread Mill Museum, Paisley, Rebecca Johnstone

It was so nice to see these things in their new setting for all to enjoy, and I left itching to get going with needle and thread.

Visit the Paisley Thread Mill Museum on Wednesdays and Saturdays, 12-4pm and get stitching!

Scotland Re:Designed, Glasgow 2017

"You can take the designer out of Scotland, but can you take Scotland out of the designer?"

Morag MacPherson Textiles

Morag MacPherson Textiles

Last week I attended a networking breakfast and panel discussion at SWG3 in Glasgow, part of Scotland Re:Designed 2017, where Hilary Alexander posed this leading question to designers Holly Fulton, Kestin Hare and Fashion Scout Martyn Roberts.

Hilary Alexander OBE, Holly Fulton, Kestin Hare, Martyn Roberts

Hilary Alexander OBE, Holly Fulton, Kestin Hare, Martyn Roberts

Are Scottish designers just desperate to negate the stereotype of 'tartan tat'?

The consensus was that Scottish and UK-based designers are embracing their heritage in different ways, celebrating other textiles like Harris Tweed and Scottish Cashmere because using tartan can feel like 'too much of a cliche'; despite being a go-to for stalwarts such as Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen.

Meanwhile, Hilary loved SIOBHAN MACKENZIE'S new take on the kilt, using both tartan + silk paired with surface embellishments such as diamante and crystal; a radical reinvention of the form forging new ways (and new target markets) for the modern customer.

Siobhan MacKenzie kilt, Scotland Re:Designed 2017

The message for Scottish designers was to 'embrace the heritage' of tartan, reinvent it, make it cool again.

As discussion turned to the changes in the industry, such as the mechanism for brands and studios to present their collections no longer reliant on a catwalk show at Fashion Week, the panel agreed Scotland has the edge over a city like London as a working base for new designers. Offering not only cheaper accommodation and studio rents in the city, Scotland also boasts bountiful rural spaces for creative reflection and inspiration leading to less chance of burn-out.

I particularly loved that Holly mentioned Grantown-on-Spey (in the Scottish Highlands) as her 'secret retreat', as it's also a place I know and love having spent my formative teenage years there (though at the time I'd happily have swapped it for London!).

"London is more inspiring and creative than Paris", Holly Fulton

But...

As Alexander McQueen apparently once said: "there's more to Scotland than haggis and whisky".

And thanks to platforms like Scotland Re:Designed, Scotland feels like the place to be.

Scotland Re:Designed Hypermarket 2017, SWG3

Juxtaposed with the industrial concrete warehouse vibe of the SWG3 Galvanizers exhibition space, I was able to spy the brands exhibiting as part of the event, ahead of the hypermarket that took place over the weekend.

This guy was ready for the cold-snap, dressed in scarves and hat by OLIVE PEARSON DESIGNS:

Olive Pearson Designs, Scotland Re:Designed 2017

Everyone loved the bold, limited palette geometrics from JENNIFER KENT:

Jennifer Kent, Scotland Re:Designed 2017
Jennifer Kent, Scotland Re:Designed 2017

And the quirky, fun slogan knitwear and vibrant textures of CATS BROTHERS:

CATS BROTHERS, Scotland Re:Designed 2017
CATS BROTHERS, Scotland Re:Designed 2017
CATS BROTHERS, Scotland Re:Designed 2017

The innovative and bright 3D-printed jewellery of LYNNE MACLACHLAN took the SR:D Award for Accessories, presented by Hilary Alexander:

Lynne MacLachlan 3D printed jewellery, Scotland Re:Designed 2017

As a notorious magpie and maximalist, I was drawn to ISOLATED HEROES (as always), and wished I'd booked in for their weekend slogan-sweater-sequin workshop... next time.

Isolated Heroes, Scotland Re:Designed 2017
Isolated Heroes, Scotland Re:Designed 2017

RHONA MCCALLUM'S bold, geometric jewellery really caught my attention, particularly the stackable square rings.

I also loved the leather and shearling gilets from NONCHALANT - in Scotland, it's about keeping warm as well as having 'the look'!

Nonchalant, Scotland Re:Designed 2017

Finally, the afternoon session was about sustainability and the circular economy, a big trend I touched on in my previous post.

With the fashion industry second only to oil in terms of world pollution, designers big and small need to consider the impact of their choices right through the supply chain.

James Lang from the Scottish Leather Group talked about the innovative ways they recycle old leather into energy to make more leather, and give the small off-cuts that would once have been landfill-bound, to designers who make items such as wallets, bags and purses to ensure 'zero waste' as far as possible.

Again the issue of 'investment fashion' rather than fast-fashion came up, and the morphing of the seasons to negate the need for the continuous treadmill of collections that not only contribute to a throw-away mentality, but also lead to burn-out and exhaustion for designers trying to 'do it all'.

All of these issues are important to consider behind the glitz and glamour of beautifully crafted fashion, and it was good to see them featuring so prominently on the (SCOTTISH) agenda.

I left the event brimming with ideas and inspiration for just how the change we seek is the change we choose to make, and how collaboration, asking questions and following your own ethical and moral compass are crucial components for success (alongside talent, persistence, patience...)

Rory Hutton, Fashion Foundry

Rory Hutton, Fashion Foundry

Here's a few final snippets of advice from the morning session with Hilary et al for budding fashion designers:

  • Always wear your own designs (where possible!) = self-promotion
  • Say 'NO' to Sale or Return - don't hold stock or bankroll someone else's business
  • Aim high and value yourself and your skills - from the start
  • Get attention, trial techniques, be clever with the materials available to you
  • ...But don't do too many things - hone in on your niche

Scottish fashion, interiors and design is at the forefront of the industry and a truly exciting place to be. Having a platform such as Scotland Re:Designed to shine the spotlight on the enviable talent and innovation only makes it more exciting.

Scotland Re:Designed is the national organisation for fashion, accessories and interior designers, providing showrooms & exhibitions, annual awards and runway show calendar and stories, events and business support opportunities. 

'SAMPLE' at the Lighthouse

SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

SAMPLE was a must-see for me as a fledgling surface pattern designer with a background in textile design - and right on my doorstep too.

The premise of the exhibition was to showcase specially commissioned designs from members of COLLECT SCOTLAND, a platform for Scottish printed textile design, shining a light on this 'hidden discipline'.

(It's considered 'hidden' because it's an industry where designers are not always given credit for their work - a sad fact across many creative disciplines.)

SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

Huge panels of fabric hung from the ceiling with bold and dramatic prints.

SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

I loved the Matisse-esque cut-out vibe of this piece:

SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

And the rough, textured markings of this in a very satisfying monochrome:

SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

While these mountains - of fire and ice - really drew me in:

SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

There was a real diversity of work, inspired by 5 key trends identified by COLLECT:

Chiaroscuro, Earthly Paradise, Cut and Paste, Emotional Landscape and Remembered Dreams.

They all sound so inspiring I want to use them myself to spark some ideas. I especially love 'Chiaroscuro' and 'Remembered Dreams' as prompts.

My dreams are very vivid, I always dream in colour and sometimes I even dream in pattern...

SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

I was drawn too to the colours and the energy in the swan design below; colours I wouldn't normally choose to work with myself. I wonder which theme it was inspired by?

SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

Meanwhile the organic feel of the black and white 'sample' below has so much timeless energy, reminiscent of rocks and crystals and the inner workings of the world.

Like mountains or worms or a particular type of cloud or striations in the sand when the tide goes out...

SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

Another really great aspect of the exhibition was to go 'behind the scenes' and see the moodboards and vision that each designer had when first thinking about their collections.

Immersing in other people's process and inspirations is one of my favourite things to do (and I quite fancy getting some of those lovely wooden stands too!)

SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow
SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow
SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

There were initial sketches and drawings to view, which I also found fascinating and an aspect you don't normally get to see.

Rather you see the final iteration with no comprehension of how many versions there might have been, or how much work was initiated but never reached the final print.

SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow
SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

Finally, there were places to sit and books to delve and artefacts to ponder and engage with. A nice touch and it made me feel like I was viewing each designer's work in their 'SAMPLE studio'.

SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow
SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow
SAMPLE exhibition, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

The showcase included a retrospective of work previously exhibited at Premiere Vision, Paris; an aspiration of my own for the future.

If you live locally, then SAMPLE is on until 18th June at The Lighthouse, Glasgow. I recommend it.

I didn't manage to capture the designer's names behind each individual design, but all members of COLLECT are profiled on their website.

Mucha: In Quest of Beauty

Alphonse Mucha exhibition, Kelvingrove Art Gallery Autumn 2016

As soon as I heard about the Mucha exhibition at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow, I couldn't wait to go.

The aim of art is to glorify beauty; the expression of beauty is by emotion. The person who can communicate his emotions to the soul of others is the artist." Alphonse Mucha

I feel so lucky to have had access to Mucha's body of work right here on my doorstep, but I also thought I knew his work pretty well already. Nope.

The revelation of the 'Q' formula was huge for me, and ever since my visit I've been seeing circles and 'Q's - and circles that could be Q's - in everything. The circle of life. The eternal circle. The face. The cyclical nature of life and death, of the seasons. All of those things.

I didn't know about the 'Zodiac' design either, a colour lithograph from 1896:

The distinctive design incorporates the mystic signs of the zodiac, motifs from nature, elaborate jewels and a prominent halo to make associations with lavish Byzantine religious art."

Alphonse Mucha 'In Quest of Beauty' exhibition, Autumn 2016

I bought the postcard, however my own sign (Pisces) is not fully visible. I wonder what sign Sarah Bernhardt was? I did know about her.

One can say that rarely has someone's soul been more faithfully exteriorised... Every feature of her face, every movement of her clothing, was profoundly conditioned by her spiritual need."

Sarah Bernhardt, Mucha 'In Quest of Beauty' exhibition, Autumn 2016

Mucha's friendship with Bernhardt gave him in-depth knowledge of her theatrical expressions, but all of his women with their decorative halos appear like secular Madonnas."

Sarah Bernhardt, Mucha 'In Quest of Beauty' exhibition, Autumn 2016

Mucha believed that beautiful works of art elevated people's morale and improved the quality of their lives. His design formula, known as 'le style Mucha', became a visual language for communicating his message of beauty."

How I loved reading that: Mucha was a man of the people: "I was happy to be involved for art for the people and not for private drawing rooms... it found a home in poor families as well as in more affluent circles."

And by pairing each of the Arts with a natural motif - for example birdsong alongside music - Mucha emphasises the contribution of nature to creative inspiration.

Alphonse Mucha 'In Quest of Beauty' exhibition, Autumn 2016

The marvellous poem of the human body...and the music of lines and colours emanating from flowers and leaves and fruits are the most obvious teachers of our eyes and taste."

These ladies seem like forerunners to Mary Cicely Barker'sThe Flower Fairies, albeit more worldly, more spirited, similar to those in 'The Seasons'.

Could I dare to call them nymphs?

Alphonse Mucha 'In Quest of Beauty' exhibition, Autumn 2016

Women remained central to the composition of Mucha's later works, but they became spiritual symbols... [Below] The woman holds primroses, which enhances the sensory nature of the design."

Alphonse Mucha 'In Quest of Beauty' exhibition, Autumn 2016Alphonse Mucha 'In Quest of Beauty' exhibition, Autumn 2016

Then there was the advertising...

Alphonse Mucha 'In Quest of Beauty' exhibition, Autumn 2016

Mucha's advertising posters reflect the rich texture of modern life in La Belle Epoque, Paris (one of my favourite periods in history). The subjects range from diverse consumer products, to cultural events and tourism. Incorporating decorative motifs and allegorical elements, central to all these compositions is the female figure, alluring potential consumers with her beauty."

Alphonse Mucha 'In Quest of Beauty' exhibition, Autumn 2016
Alphonse Mucha 'In Quest of Beauty' exhibition, Autumn 2016

There are hints of William Morris's swirling floral and leaf repeats and the work of Charles Rennie Macintosh, both of whom played a part in the emergence of the Art Nouveau design movement that swept across Europe.

Alphonse Mucha 'In Quest of Beauty' exhibition, Autumn 2016

I particularly loved the contemplative, far-away gaze of the lady below. I think she's my favourite.

Maybe she's bored, or simply resigned to her fate? She's advertising a bike and it looks like the kind of item she would need - or want - the least. Where is she taking her leaves (sage?) and: is that a hammer?

Alphonse Mucha 'In Quest of Beauty' exhibition, Autumn 2016

As I left, lingering long in the exhibition shop along the way, my mind was abuzz with Q's and circles and tendrils. Flowers. Nature. Pastels. Red. Gold. Thorns. Daisy crowns. Primroses. Stars.

These symbols return over and over again in Mucha's art and I love that instantly he was able to manifest his signature style. Surely that is every artist and creatives' dream?

Alphonse Mucha 'In Quest of Beauty' exhibition, Autumn 2016

A picture I believe, acts aggressively. Unhindered it penetrates through the viewer's eyes into his soul"

Mucha: In Quest of Beauty runs until 19th February 2017 at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow, Scotland.

I was delighted it was permissible to take photographs (no flash) throughout the exhibition, however the lighting was low to protect the original pieces which has affected the quality of these images. A photograph can never hope to be as good as seeing the art in person, but I hope it gives a flavour of 'Mucha in Glasgow', and what to expect for anyone planning a visit themselves, or for those further afield.

PaisleyMake Festival: Fashion & Design Showcase

Yesterday I went 'behind the scenes' of Paisley Museum's pattern archives as part of the PaisleyMake festival of creativity and design celebrations. For a student of textiles and a lover of all things pattern, it was catnip and Christmas come early. (Cue selfie with a loom!) Rebecca Johnstone, Paisley Museum

As the Paisley2021 City of Culture UK bid gains momentum, the spotlight is on Scottish designers as they showcase their wares in Paisley Abbey for the PaisleyMake festival in partnership with Scotland Re:Designed.

As part of the showcase, experts from across the fashion and textile industry are speaking on topics such as innovation, collaboration and smart textiles. (Find out who and when.)

Being a local designer myself, I was delighted to get a sneak-peek, and was drawn to this colourful stand featuring designs and prints by Mairi Helena.

Scotland Re:Designed, PaisleyMake, Paisley Abbey

The hat and glove sets by Green Thomas lured me with their patterns, and the 100% lambswool scarves had me thinking: hello autumn accessories.

Green Thomas Hat and Gloves, Paisley MakeScotland Re:Designed, PaisleyMake, Paisley Abbey

Other designers selected to exhibit include: Barbra Kolasinski, Natasha Marshall, Rebecca Torres, Niki Fulton, Pea Cooper Millinery, Vonne Alley and Siobhan Mackenzie. (Full list plus links.)

The place to be is Paisley Abbey in the heart of the town, flanked by one of the many colourful lions for the Pride of Paisley summer art trail. 

A 'Pride of Paisley' lion outside Paisley Abbey

The striking Paisley-pattern weave on these decorated pillars create a really eye-catching entrance to the Abbey - thank Dyane Lanez of Tout Petit.

I love a bit of yarn-bombing but maybe this is weave-wrapping?

Decorated pillars at the entrance to Paisley Abbey

And while the focus is on modern innovations, and for many people tartan is the first thing that leaps to mind as the go-to Scottish textile, it's hard to imagine today's Paisley town-centre as a once-thriving textile hub, home to hand-weavers threading the intricate design of the now-infamous 'floral teardrop' into shawls that were sold around the world.

Paisley Shawl collection, Paisley Museum Paisley Shawl collection, Paisley MuseumPaisley Pattern archive, Paisley Museum

Paisley Museum's design archives proffer an inspirational legacy for a new generation of artisans and designers to reconnect with Paisley's many treasures, perhaps re-working the 'Paisley pattern' or the 'Paisley print' for the modern era of fashion and textile design?

I intend to rise to this challenge and will be drawing (literally!) my inspiration from the early European and Indian influences, as well as key motifs from the Art Deco and Art Nouveau movements.

I look forward to featuring more of the archival pattern books that Dr Dan Coughlan, Curator of Textiles at Paisley Museum, was kind enough to share, but for now I'll leave you with some more creative inspiration from the Scotland Re:Designed showcase - until 3rd September 2016.

Jewellery by Others Are at PaisleyMake festival

Rings by Others Are.

Gatekeeper Art by Lil Brookes

Intricate Gatekeeper Art by Lil Brookes.

PaisleyMake street signs, Paisley

NB: Although I was lucky enough to attend a local Blogger Preview to the collections at both Paisley Museum and the PaisleyMake showcase, this is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.

Love Hasn't Even Got Started Yet: Rob Ryan

Rob Ryan! In Scotland! In Falkirk! Accessible! Free!

When I read about Rob Ryan's exhibition 'Love Hasn't Even Got Started Yet', I couldn't wait to visit. I've admired his work for a long time, so the opportunity to see the original paper-cuts in real life was unmissable.

Rob Ryan 'Love Hasn't Even Got Started Yet', Park Gallery, Falkirk

Rob Ryan 'Love Hasn't Even Got Started Yet', Park Gallery, FalkirkEach word - each letter -  has been intricately carved in paper and card.

Black and white and primary colours. Hypnotic, emotional words. Aspirational ideals about life, love, relationships, the planet, the stars. Cities, towns, forests and secret spaces mapped out in paper.

The houses are crookedly cute, the birds 'tweet' and 'cheep' and every cut of the knife reveals and encloses the space beneath it in intricate relief.

Rob Ryan 'Love Hasn't Even Got Started Yet', Park Gallery, Falkirk

'The Pearl's Story' was one of my favourites: evocative, detailed, true, bittersweet and personifying the treasure of the ocean.

There was a lot of monochrome, which chimes with me, and it was obvious a lot of the work was very personal.

Rob Ryan 'Love Hasn't Even Got Started Yet', Park Gallery, FalkirkRob Ryan 'Love Hasn't Even Got Started Yet', Park Gallery, FalkirkSomeone had written in the comments book that the pieces were 'too expensive', but I don't think you can ever truly put a price on someone's creative vision, ability and time.

(You can buy Rob Ryan original artwork, prints and more here. I think they are priceless, and I'm saving up for this).

What I love particularly about Rob's work is the sense that what you see is just a snapshot of a moment, like in absorbing the details of the scenes he creates we're privy to a tiny moment in the great big universe of time and motion and that, well, love hasn't even got started yet.

Then there were the ceramics. How I love this vibrant design that 'thanks' the summer of 2008 for its warmth. Gratitude on a plate!

Rob Ryan 'Love Hasn't Even Got Started Yet', Park Gallery, Falkirk Rob Ryan 'Love Hasn't Even Got Started Yet', Park Gallery, FalkirkThe exhibition is in the Park Gallery, but Callander House offers plenty of interesting artefacts and historical details to browse. Of most interest for me were a mock-up vintage record shop, a sweetie shop, a printer's studio... And a tea room. (I recommend the 'Royal Scottish' blend.)

The grounds are peaceful and impressive for a wander - I stumbled into these two lovebirds and there were plenty of real ducks and swans too.

Callendar House, FalkirkFinally, this smiley face just had to be snapped #facesinthings!

Callendar House, FalkirkRob Ryan's exhibition 'Love Hasn't Even Got Started Yet' runs until 4th September 2016, at the Park Gallery, Callendar House, Falkirk.

Rob Ryan 'Love Hasn't Even Got Started Yet', Park Gallery, Falkirk