The rags of time

This picture of last night in New York just whizzed in! The city feels like an old friend that’s really been through the wringer, is just beginning to breathe again when wham – here comes the next thing! So I need to find something warm to wear for my journey; unfortunately the moths have got in first and have snacked liberally on my cosiest coat.

What a bit of luck that my friend Clare is making new garments from recycle-able fabrics for TRAIDremade, the apparel label of the charity TRAID. She has fashioned me a sweet little jacket using some of our vintage scraps and stitched in their East London factory; I’ve been able to use these special porcelain buttons made by a friend too.

And here I am at the National Theatre in my jacket and holding the lovely Sonnet Scarf – of which I’m very proud! This is how it comes – packed in tissue in a clear-top box with its own numbered and signed letterpress card.  Have a look at the bookshop’s exciting new website, due any day now complete with a surprise audio treat…..

Last year’s exhibition there was such an honour for Susan and me and  our colleagues – a great opportunity to take stock, to look forward and back, to meet many people who knew us through our work, and to set on course the book that is just now coming to fruition.  Over our many years together the studio remained central to our work and output; members came and went, the numbers waxed and waned, the office expanded and contracted but the core of creativity remained constant.  I have so many fond memories, and am thankful for such loyal and imaginative co-workers. The process and progress of work depends on many co-operations.

I’ve been working all hours to meet deadlines – this is my desk as I mix the colours for a luscious new floral. I use odd pieces of cardboard as temporary travelling drawing/cutting boards while I match and re-match the paint to my original sketch. A tiny speck of raw umber in the golden yellow, a little squeeze of olive in the cerise can make all the difference.

The publication of Mark Hearld’s Workbook was celebrated at Daunt Books last week. His unflagging and prolific output is impressive – a man who cheerfully lives his work, the ingenuity and inventiveness with which he approaches his subjects is beguiling. We met by happy chance at the National Theatre last year on the last day of the exhibition and talked briefly about pattern repeats. This Workbook shows us among other things the context of his working life and his good-humoured and particular point of view.

 This is also the subject of an intense and concise exhibition at UCA’s Farnham Craft Study Centre. In Life and Still Life Alison Britton, the distinguished ceramicist, is showing new work together with a hundred objects which inhabit her life – in the studio and at home – the everyday things that are her constant friends, special companions and references, the things that she thinks with as she says. The Centre is also showing a touching and domestic exhibition of the work of Robin Tanner and I secretly hope that Farnham may become a proper home for the perfect little archive of Boquet and Freeman hand-printed fabrics still held by their daughter – see my blog Cluck Cluck

I was asked about this matter of context by someone at the Textile Society the other day – the notion of the integrity of the maker, the relationship of the artist/craftsman and his medium to his surroundings, clothes, actions, movements. In what ways does our work define us, and we it? It seems such investigations are in the air – but of course that’s the very nature of design – its in-the-air-ness.

These are some of the small treasures which give a comforting presence to the daily round and punctuate my domestic landscape. One of my favourites is Granny Collier’s pepper mill.

Sitting at my dear old family table – made from £2-worth of oak planks bought by my parents in the ’30s – I looked up to see this sleek new chirper pinching berries from the yew hedge.

And this fetching arrangement?  It’s one of our shawls (c 1990) deliciously ruffled round on one of our sheets (c 1992) – a final flourish from a friend’s cleaning lady!

See you on the 22nd at the FTM!

Thanks to Alan, Molly, Clare Farrell for my jacket, Ruzha Kazandjieva for the buttons, Tom Dykes for the picture of me wearing it, Judith’s cleaning lady and Jonathan for the picture of New York.

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19 thoughts on “The rags of time

  1. You look absolutely FAB in your jacket….and the scarf is a “must have” for me! Congratulations for all your wonderful achievements, X B.

      • Dear Ms Campbell, I missed the event but got the book the next day. Absolutely amazing. Wish I could have met you. I live in NYC and work in an art and design college. Have a wonderful holiday season. Hope to meet you in NY one day. Karen D’Angelo

  2. Well done Sarah! You are such an inspiration. Your jacket and Scarf are both stunning and what a lovely photograph of you. The 6th form girls and we are so lucky to have you helping us. Stacey x

  3. How nice to see your new designs. I know that yew hedge! I will ask Louise to get me a copy of your book – it would be lovely to get it. I am at home recovering from an op and your blog and it’s colours are a tonic. Thank you.

  4. After reading your blog, I snatched back from the bin where I’d just chucked them the beautiful discards from the 5-star Moth Hotel that I run here – inspired to recycle them into at least one more useable thing before they check in again – good luck with New York, your work will aid recovery. Much love, Faye

  5. You look fabulous in your new jacket and Sonnet scarf. Wishing you a brilliant book launch in NY next week and looking forward to seeing you on 22nd – we’ve bought our tickets! Jane

  6. Sarah, you look so beautiful in that jacket! LOVE IT!!!! Love reading your blogs- totally inspiring. Sending love from Brighton, Tanya x

  7. Its great to see the inside workings of an artist’s life, which seems made up of so many bits and pieces but which seems to come together in the final creative act, when the artefact is finished and shown to the world, in all its wonder, subject to critiques, some informed and others not. This is when romanticism enters briefly, I suppose, and the public are entranced but then the next step in the vision has to be realised. Carry on Sarah enchanting us.

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