Sitting down with the Product Developer of The Bloomsbury Needlepoint Tapestry Kits

 

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!

Culture Label are giving away two tickets to the Bloomsbury Needlepoint Workshop this Saturday, 11am. Enter HERE  Alternatively, book your tickets online.

Shop the Bloomsbury collection 

Visit The Courtauld Gallery’s  Bloomsbury Art & Design Special Display, 18 February – 21 September 2017

Evince Your Inner Colourway at The Courtauld Shop: Getting to Know Jan Allison Jewellery

Founded in 2005, and based in the picturesque Cornish seaside town of St Ives, Jan Allison Jewellery is a partnership between Janet Stevens and Alison Carter.  Janet and Allison have been the closest of friends since childhood. Their unique, hand-crafted pieces of jewellery reflect the vibrant, colourful watercolours of  our latest exhibition Georgiana Houghton: Spirit Drawings . They are available for purchase at The Courtauld Gallery Shop and online . Jan Allison Jewellery is exhibited in galleries across the UK and has been purchased by clients from all over the world.

We met up with Allison to find out a little bit more:

Janet Stevens and Allison Carter

Janet Stevens and Allison Carter

Q: Allison, you and Janet have been the closest of friends since childhood, do you have a favourite childhood memory you’d like to share with us?

We were bridesmaids together when our siblings got married. It was my sister and her brother. We were teenagers at the time and the relationship may not have survived but our friendship certainly did.

Q: Is there anything else from your long-standing friendship that you’d like to share?

In school, we were on the same hockey team and netball team. Janet was absolutely brilliant at sewing and embroidery, whereas I went to Art College at Birmingham Polytechnic and did fabric and textiles. Years later, I actually had my own business where I decorated glass wear. I did that for quite some time. Then when I started working at the jeweller’s, that’s when I started making my jewellery.

Q: Allison, throughout your worldwide travels as an air stewardess, was there a place or event that made you realise you wanted to create colourful, unique pieces of jewellery?

It has to be Sri Lanka. It was my favourite place. There were so many colours and so much beauty. My idea of paradise. I actually purchased my first natural stones on a market stall. Janet actually went to Sri Lanka herself years later and she enjoyed it just as much as me.

Q: Janet, was there something specific that prompted you to enrol in your jewellery course at Penzance College?

The love of jewellery inspired me. My intention was to create personal pieces of jewellery for my friends and family. At that stage, a business was far from my mind, we just sort of fell into it.

Q: How did you start the business?

We were working together in a jewellery gallery, Pebbles Jewellery Gallery in St.Ives. It has recently closed. I worked there for twenty years out of the thirty-four years they were in business. The owner of the business and I had been going to trade shows. While she was buying jewellery to supply the shop, she was picking up necklaces and I was saying ‘I could make that.’ I had said it so many times that she ended up buying some stones and giving them to me, telling me to give it a try.

Our first batch of jewellery was sold through the owner of the business. We probably made about twenty. Now we’ve probably made thousands. We are still making every piece ourselves. We don’t make every day at the moment. We normally make stuff very regularly. We probably work a few hours a week now. When we start a new collection that’s when we spend a lot of time together.

Q: Does the natural semi-precious stone hold a special meaning for you?

Semi-precious stones have great healing properties that appeal to both. We both love colour and mix different colours together because we like the combinations.

Q: We noticed that you use very colourful stones; does something inspire the choice in design and colour of your work?

Not really. We both have different ideas which when we put together seem to work. We like asymmetric patterns and our work often portrays that.

Q: Is there an art period, style or movement that has majorly influenced your work?

I am a big lover of Art Deco and Art Nouveau.

Q: How long does it take to create one piece?

I cannot commit to how long it takes to design one piece, because each piece is very different. Each strand of stones is laid out and sort of played around with until we get the look that we want. Then, the silver components are added before we start the threading.

Q: We know that lapis, sodalite and Andean opal are among the semi-precious stones used in your designs, how do you source the stones?

We’ve been making jewellery for over 11 years, over that time we have sourced many different stones. We’ve become great friends with our suppliers. One of which actually mines the stones himself in South America, an amazing man and his wife. They bought a mine in South America. My sister lives in Egypt and gets our lapis lazuli from there.

Q: You live in a beautiful place, does it inspire you?

Oh yes, sometimes it inspires us a great deal. The natural light here has made it one of the UK’s major art havens. We are surrounded by a wealth of incredibly talented artists, sculptors and potters. Many of which are friends of ours so we’ve grown up with amazing creativity around us.

Q: Finally, looking forward, what are your plans for your next collection?

We will probably start sourcing for our next collection in September. We’re thinking of turquoise, carnelian, and lapis lazuli. We’re thinking to go with gold-plated accents. A bit of an Egyptian influence will be present.

Q: Do you know what the future holds for Jan Allison Jewellery?

Who knows what the future holds for anyone. We can be assured ours will include lots of colour, creativity, and laughter.

Jan Allison Jewellery

 

 

Visit the Courtauld Gallery Shop online

The Courtauld Gallery Shop
Somerset House
Strand
London WC2R 0RN

10am – 6pm

Feel Uplifted in The Courtauld Gallery Shop. Interview with Artist Jonathan Fuller

Inspired by our fantastic Soaring Flight: Peter Lanyon’s Gliding Paintings exhibition the shop team have been exploring all things Cornish!

Jonathan Fuller Wall Sculpture

Currently featured at The Courtauld Shop, is a lovely sculpture by the Cornish artist, Jonathan Fuller. We’ve had a chance to speak with the artist to discover more about his unique and stunning works.

Q&A with Jonathan Fuller

Q: What attracted you to using sea glass as a medium?

JF: I grew up in Cornwall, in North Cornwall, and it was something that I always collected as a child. Whenever we traveled to the coast we would collect it and it began mounting up around me.  Upon moving back to Cornwall I decided to put it to use.  It was something I started initially in my textile career that was different from the normal day job.  My first sculpture took about a year to make and everyone who came to see it just loved it.  Galleries became interested as well and it’s something I do whenever I can now.  Even though it’s waste, the sea transforms it into something lovely and smooth and I wanted to use a recycled waste material to make artworks.

Q: Do you spend time everyday looking for glass?

JF: Not every day as I make the frames and mounts that go along with the sculptures and that can take a very long time.  I often take a beach or coastal walk so I will be looking.  It’s really just luck of the draw and depends what you find.

Q: How long does it take you to collect enough sea glass to create a work?

JF: It varies.  The main colours I find are white, brown and green.  It’s the aquamarines and blues that are harder to find.  I’ve got a lot of the more obvious colours but it is the special tones that make the pieces unique.  It’s very difficult to put a time on it.

Q: What do you draw inspiration for your works from?

JF: It’s about colour and form and texture.  It comes from my textile background.  It’s the simplicity of the shapes, whether it’s the ring or the circle and the linear pieces.  What I find interesting about what I find is that with the changing of the tides, four times a day, it’s a circular movement.  It’s always a motion of change.

Q: Do you have a favorite coastal line you have visited throughout your travels? And what was so special about it?

JF: I traveled a lot with my textile career but when you’re working and doing trade it is always difficult to visit the coast.  We lived in London for ten years my wife and I.  I always missed the Cornish coast.  I do not believe you can get much better than the Cornish coast.  There are real differences in the Cornwall coast alone that are fascinating.  If I had to pick a coast I would have to pick the one I live on.  There is a beach in America (Fort Bragg) that I would love to visit as it is made entirely of glass and there are a few beaches in Hawaii that are spectacular.  But if I had to be honest, I think my little piece of coast is just fine.

Q: Is there a specific artist or genre that influences your work?

JF: I’m very fond of the St.Ives school.  One of my favorite is Peter Lanyon who is in your gallery at the moment.  I think Lanyon is definitely one of my favorites as well.  I wanted to see the exhibition when I came up to drop the sculptures off.  I couldn’t actually find parking when I was there.  But I’ll be up very soon to see it.

Q: Does sea glass hold a specific meaning for you?  Is it representative of something you could share with us?

It’s something I’ve always been attracted to.  I spend my time looking at the sand and not the view.  It can be quite compulsive and you keep hoping you’ll find another bit. I also really like the fact that it’s recycled and that it’s had a life cycle; some may be two years old or two hundred years hold.  They all have a history.  Sometimes they have words on them.  You can tell where they’ve come from sometimes.

Q: I know you have a whippet dog, Nell, and that you were hoping to train her to retrieve sea glass.  Has that come to fruition?

She’s a lovely dog but she is more of a chasing dog.  So to answer your question, I would have loved to but I am afraid the answer is no.

Q: I know you own a Will Eastham Surfboards red long board.  Is that going well?

I’m doing pretty good.  I’m not as good as him because he is incredible.  But it’s a lovely thing just to look at let alone ride.  I was in recently since it’s been pretty mild so it’s been going very well.

Q: What does the future hold for you and your work?

I found a beach recently with very white wood on it.  There are all kinds of twigs and branches that the sea has basically stripped the bark off and the sun has bleached.  They appear almost like bones.  I am currently making a piece made from these sticks and branches.  I also look at different forms of marine debris such as plastics.  There are so many human things that have been discarded that have ended up in the ocean.  It saddens me the amount of wildlife that is negatively affected by it.  I would like to make more pieces to highlight the impact we are having on our oceans.

Own a piece of Jonathan Fuller work for yourself from our Shop.

Book now to see Soaring Flight: Peter Lanyon’s Gliding Paintings 

Discover Christmas at The Courtauld Shop

With mistletoe and tinsel in hand, the Courtauld Shop Team have been extensively preparing for the Festive season. We invite you to discover an array of festive and gallery-inspired gifts we have to offer this year. Explore a variety of hand-glazed ceramics, ornaments and trimmings, art prints, jewellery and gourmet treats. Hand-crafted decorations are available from top UK designers such as Je Vous En Prie and Amica. We also have Farrah’s of Harrogate gourmet biscuits, Turkish delights and Schlünder Stollen Fruit Cake.

We are situated in the elegant surroundings of Somerset House in the heart of Covent Garden. Our staff are knowledgeable and are eager to help you find that special gift.

The shop is open from 10:00 to 18:00 and extended hours will coincide with the November Peter Lanyon Late Event.

You can also find us online www.courtauldshop.com