What a couple of weeks! The most breathtaking experience in New York was the visit to the Guggenheim museum. Not just seeing the magnificent building, so uncompromising, every detail considered, measured, enjoyed and contributing to the entirety – but the exciting exhibition within: the black and white paintings of Picasso – plus one or two sculptures. Such a meeting of visionaries, of doers; I was enveloped, enlivened and embraced by their leaping energies.
The winding ramp reminds me of the Hong Kong aquarium once visited in 1986. There, stepping through the summit entrance I recall the walkway hugged around a massive glass cylinder of ocean seemingly inserted into the hill; the descent took us past the creatures within as they lived and swam and fed at their different underwater levels, ultimately reaching the bottom feeders – very clever – it’s probably changed by now.
Back to Manhattan – outside the museum the clear blue sky and colour-turning leaves of Central Park sparkled and ruffled in a chilly breeze. Not much sign in that district of Superstorm Sandy, as it’s called, though downtown and in parts of Brooklyn the devastating consequences can be seen and have still to be lived with and repaired. I suppose it’s niggly of me to wish that the souvenir vendors’ stalls weren’t littering up the entrance to the museum – I’m shocked to find myself something of a purist in this instance!
And it was in Brooklyn that I spent much of my time – at the offices of WestElm in Dumbo, sitting at a table ‘in the back’ with Bernice and my paintbrushes. We worked alongside each other looking out at Brooklyn Bridge, listening to the radio and tutting at any patterns that annoyingly refused to behave themselves – home from home as it turned out! It was great to see the progress of my earlier work for the company, to meet everyone and to be included at the building of some of the new ranges. This chair – originally conceived as a one-off for the evening event – took on a life of its own and will now be part of a future product group.
One focus of my week was the launch of both the book and the Sarah Campbell Designs product in West Elm’s Broadway store on November 15th. What a lovely evening, with the meeting of many old friends in the industry and the sharings of fond memories and reminiscences. The book, so full of designs produced on both sides of the Atlantic, does encourage such exchanges.
This was followed on Monday 19th by an interesting ‘in conversation’ with Prof Rena Sussmann at FIT, in their ‘Faces and Places in Fashion’ class, more signing of books and then tea, cakes and a little ‘crit’ with some of the ten students who had painted silk scarves in response to images in the book. I really enjoyed myself, and was very touched by their enthusiastic reception and response to me and our work. Then it was good-bye America – for the moment…
Back in London the first knock on the door was the courier delivering the 100 brand new Sunflower scarves fresh from the Italian printers – so exciting!
They’ll be available from the website shop very soon – but if you want to buy one (pure silk crepe-de-chine, 65x170cm, £85 including p&p) before we get the paypal page set up for it just get in contact with me directly. And the lovely Sonnet scarf is adorning quite a few heads and shoulders by now – yours included?
Then it was full steam ahead preparing for the evening at the FTM, on the 22nd to launch the book here in London. The conversation between Dennis Nothdruft, Mary Schoeser – also launching her new book ‘Textiles: The Art of Mankind’ – and myself was great fun. After FIT and other recent events I discover that I really enjoy the audience questions, and there was quite a lively exchange that evening.
And also a lot more signing of books – so glad I have such a reliable fountain pen! The sunflower scarf and other SC product, including the book, will be available at the FTM shop too.
But jetlag finally forced its way in and a sort of intermittent tide of achy weariness began to overtake me: sleep beckoned. Had I not had a jab a couple of weeks earlier I would have thought it was the flu. By the way, have you heard of the pneumonia vaccination? I was offered one when I went to the surgery – it’s needed once only and sounds like a good idea – though strangely a bit of a secret.
On Saturday I made my way to Wiltons Music Hall for a midday picnic to mark the last day of Shrine, the exhibition curated by Sophie Herxheimer – part of The Pilgrimage Project conceived by Matthew Lloyd. Box files, excellent as they are in themselves, were never put to such inventive and surprising good use, Sophie! I hope this alphabetical array will find another public home – the Barbican Library or the Poetry Library…? Through a gloriously grand faded door in Graces Alley the building is a fascinating beautiful mysterious maze of rooms; the theatre itself – at which you can peep through a little window – is in mid-restoration at the moment. They were preparing to host a wedding the next day, decorating the central stairs with garlands of white flowers and little lights – now there’s a great place for a good party!