On Saturday 25 March, The Courtauld Shop will host an immersive experience in collaboration with The London Craft Club to mark the legacy of The Bloomsbury Group and Omega Workshops. The event will involve a guided tour of The Courtauld Gallery’s Bloomsbury Art & Design Special Display, a needlepoint workshop to further promote creativity in museums, refreshments, and a complimentary bespoke Bloomsbury Tapestry Kit (value of £20 – £25) produced in collaboration with Cleopatra’s Needle, a company founded in Scotland and that has been at the forefront of designing and manufacturing tapestry kits since 1991.
Attendees will partake in an hour-long needlepoint workshop with specialist Zuzana Lalikova to learn the craft of needlepoint and create their very own stitched four-colour badge. The bespoke tapestry kits are available in-store or online from the The Courtauld Shop.
Today, we have sat down with our Lead Product Developer of these bespoke tapestry kits to find out a little bit more about the creative process.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your decision to collaborate with Cleopatra’s Needle for the production of The Bloomsbury Group needlepoint range? Why needlepoint?
Well, ever since I worked on the range for the Beyond Bloomsbury: Designs of the Omega Workshops 1913-19 exhibition at The Courtauld Gallery, back in 2009, there was a piece of furniture there which really stood out for me. It’s a chair with a beautiful embroidered seatback by Vanessa Bell or Winifred Gill. It really inspired me to use needlepoint as a medium for a product range.
Q: Why did you choose Cleopatra’s Needle?
Cleopatra’s Needle is a long -standing wonderful Scottish company, which produce a wide variety of kits. The quality of components i.e. the canvas and wool that they use and their attention to detail really drew us to them.
Q: From your perspective, what is the relationship between The Bloomsbury Group and needlepoint?
The connection is quite an obvious one I think. Textiles and tangible materials were hugely important for the Bloomsbury Group, and they explored this in the Omega Workshops forum, where interior accessories were created; vases, rugs, ceramics, textiles, fashion garments, etc. This was very modern and forward thinking at the time and I love the idea of fusing British craft with a modern look.
Q: What is the foremost reason an art lover would purchase a Bloomsbury needlepoint kit? (What need are you satisfying?)
We are presenting an art lover with an authentic, well-priced gift to handcraft which has been sympathetically designed and produced. There is nothing else like it on the market – it’s got a very modern twist.
Q: What are the key milestones in product development? And which proved to be the most challenging?
In this process, there were many milestones! We did not want to create exact facsimiles of the archive but wanted to inject some creativity. We agreed the product types and mapped out the basic designs onto PDFs in paper form, along with agreed swatches of coloured wool. The next milestone was waiting for the samples to be stitched which was nail biting! But even then, some samples didn’t work, colours didn’t sit together, sizes were wrong and we’d have to resample. We got there in the end though!
Q: What did you take away from this experience?
An enormous amount. Working product development in needlepoint has been hugely rewarding and an area I hadn’t experienced before. I am very proud of the authenticity, the quality of the kits and how different they are.
Q: What are three words you would use to describe The Bloomsbury Group?
Modern, eclectic, experimental.
Q: We would love to hear more about future product ranges coming soon to The Courtauld Shop. Should we expect them to be as exciting as The Bloomsbury Group and Omega Workshop ranges?
We have recently had a revamp of the visual merchandising in the shop to make it a exciting shopping experience – we’d love some feedback from our customers.
The buying team are also looking forward to assembling wonderful ranges for the forthcoming Chaïm Soutine exhibition. He was an incredibly expressive artist; controversial and passionate, so look for some lively and vivid products coming soon!
Visit The Courtauld Gallery’s Bloomsbury Art & Design Special Display, 18 February – 24 September 2017