Weekend out to play!

I am just returned from a wonderful weekend out to play in the Big Scary Smoke! I came down to London on Friday morning, mainly to go to the Association of Dress Historians annual conference at the Artworkers Guild. The weekend kicked off with a tour, organised by ADH, of the Clothworkers Hall Textile Resource Centre of the V&A. One of the staff showed us their storage facilities - the biggest range of shelves/drawers I have ever seen, all of those archive type where you wind them on so you can get at the shelves. Vast!

Then she took us in to the study area where they had laid out a few things for us to look at.... DROOL! The most gorgeous velvet coat and silk waistcoat from the 1780s, beautifully embroidered in silk and chenille threads, with a complex design of flowers and leaves, matching on both pieces. A yellow silk sack-back gown and matching petticoat, dating from the 1760s with some later alterations in 1780s. And a Stuart period embroidered jacket, with gold scrollwork and flowers, butterflies, birds, bugs, and all sorts. Rather like the Margaret Laton jacket. I went slightly mad with my camera, but were not supposed to post them online without permission, sadly. I did manage to clarify how to arrange a research visit, so that is something on the mid-term radar.

Then a short visit to the pub along the road with the tour gang, then I adjourned to Warren Street to meet an old friend for dinner, in a lovely Persian restaurant not far from the tube.

On the Saturday, it was the conference, at which I was giving a paper about the Cook Waistcoat Project. The conference was very good, with some very interesting papers. They are planning on setting up an e-journal, with papers from the conference in the first edition, so watch this space! The paper went down very well with everyone: the smaller room where our panel took place was literally standing room only and folks sitting on the floor. They were delighted that I had taken the waistcoat and some other bits with me, and I made some very good contacts with a variety of people. That is one of the attractions of the ADH: there is everyone from high-level academics like Prof Aileen Ribeiro, who gave the keynote address, to re-enactors and other enthusiasts. I ended up spending the evening with a lovely group of folks from the Sealed Knot, in a Turkish restaurant on Southampton Row!

Then on Sunday I was booked to see the Opus Anglicanum exhibition at the V&A: superlatives fail me! The things they have on show are stunning: Copes and other vestments, altar pieces and burses, an amazing collection. Some of the pieces haven't been in the UK since they were originally sold/gifted to their homes, 800 or so years ago. The embroidery is incredibly detailed, and must have taken days, weeks, months! If you have a chance to visit before it closes, do. It's fantastic. I did try and see a bit more of the V&A before I came home, but my feet were complaining too much. It's always been known in my family as "museum feet"! I did manage to walk round some of the British Galleries. I came home with books (what a surprise!) including a lovely book of the Opus Anglicanum exhibition.

All together a very good weekend: busy, but a great break. Now I feel energised to get on with all the jobs I have coming up, like writing a paper for the ADH Journal, starting an Opus Anglicanum sample........ Watch this space, Dear Reader!