Thursday, 3 February 2011

A Perfect Day

Some days just don't go according to plan and you end up in the evening feeling as though nothing has been accomplished (and I have many of those, believe me). And then other days are packed full of interesting things and lovely people from dawn to dusk... and yesterday was one of those days...

It started with a train ride into London and a whole hour of uninterrupted knitting... bliss! My first stop was The Barbican so I could see Future Beauty again before it closes on Sunday. I was just as excited as the first time I saw it and came away with a notebook full of ideas and sketches. I particularly wanted to draw this rather spendid knitted underwear ensemble... which is connected to my knitting on the train. I'll reveal more about that another time!

After a delicious bowl of soup (I can recommend the foodhall at the Barbican) it was off to the V & A to meet Alice. We had a quick whizz around the Chinese Imperial Robes exhibition - a chance to see some glorious textiles - before heading off to the Foundling Museum. The current exhibition at the museum, Threads of Feeling, shows swatches of fabric that were left with foundling babies during the 18th century.


Between 1741 and 1760 over 4000 babies were left at the Foundling hospital with a small token, usually fabric, kept as a means of identification. These were either fabrics given by the mother or they were cut from the clothing of the babies and they were pinned to the billets that held the details of each child left.

They represent one of the largest collections of everyday textiles from the 18th century. Threads of Feeling shows a selection of these fabric tokens. It is a beautiful exhibition, tastefully presented and as might be expected it also presents a poignant and moving story.


But despite the sad background to these fabric tokens it is fascinating to see such a diverse collection of textiles and to consider what they reveal about fashion, women and ordinary lives. It is an amazing piece of social history.

We then went to meet Alice's daughter, the lovely Miss M, who joined us back at the Foundling museum for a talk by John Styles (the curator of the exhibition) about the relevence of these textile tokens and what they can tell us about 18th century dress. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and absorbing talk.

It was such an inspiring day that my head was buzzing full of ideas... just as well I had my knitting for the journey home.

A wonderful day, thank you Alice! Today however... not much accomplished at all so far!

21 comments:

  1. What a lovely day. Hope you didn't get to wet in our dreary London rain (it's super sunny today).

    The exhibition at the Foundling Museum sounds fascinating and very moving. Thanks for making me aware of it; I think I'll take my Mum to see it. x

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was thinking about you both with your fascinating trip planned - and to cap it all you met Miss M!!!! I may explode with envy.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Your day does sound like a fine one, with all sorts of interesting ingredients and enough time to enjoy them all.

    Wish I could see each of those exhibits! I've read about the one at the Foundling Museum in Selvedge and was very intrigued. Thank you for including the photos.

    Looking forward to seeing that knitting grow. xo

    ReplyDelete
  4. What an interesting story about the Foundlings, sad too!
    I'm very curious about the knitting now!
    Vivienne x

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a fascinating sounding exhibition! Your whole day sounds lovely - especially with knitting on the train there and back to finish it off! Lucy x

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sounds like a perfect day out. I'm looking forward to seeing the exhibition at the Foundling Museum.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow -- the museum sounds wonderful -- and so very interesting. Sounds like a perfect day Gina!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Is it you who has told me about that poignant fabric collection before? I've heard about it somewhere. It must be so moving to examine those little scraps of fabric.

    What a treat to meet Alice AND Miss M!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I read about the foundling exhibition in Embroidery magazine,fascinating.
    I can see why your full of ideas,inspiring exhibitions.
    M x

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sounds like a delightful day... and I LOVE your red knitting needles. :O)

    ReplyDelete
  11. You'd need a day off to assimilate all that inspiration Gina. I had never heard the Foundling hospital story but it has obviously made a fascinating exhibition. Love the knitted undies - I noticed the cables on your knitting and wonder if you are working to the same pattern!

    ReplyDelete
  12. It is always inspiring to visit exhibitions with you, Gina! I had a wonderful afternoon and so did MissM who can now quote obscure textiles just to make me happy.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Those bits of fabric and notations...speechless.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I read about the exhibition it sounded very interesting. It's very hard to imagine yourself in the mothers shoes and the agony they must have suffered. A wonderful piece of history though.

    ReplyDelete
  15. That exhibition at the foundling museum seems to be touching so many. those child had little value then but isn't amazing that they are still touching people.

    ReplyDelete
  16. What a beautiful day, particulary the exhibition at the foundling museum. All thos elittle bits of fabric with all the stories they saw.

    ReplyDelete
  17. what a fascinating post - and how sad too - so many babies. am intrigued to see what you are knitting - the thought of knitted underwear does make me feel a bit itchy though!!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I can't wait to see what you are working on. Lovely start.

    ReplyDelete
  19. It sounds like a perfect day to me! I wish I could see that exhibition at the Foundling Museum. What an incredible glimpse into the 18th century

    ReplyDelete
  20. What a very interesting day. I had no idea about those bits of cloth being with the babies - as you say, so very moving. Can't wait to see what that cable-y knitting is going to be! :) x

    ReplyDelete
  21. What a day!
    Very interesting post Gina...thank you.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for leaving me a comment. I love to read what you have to say and try to reply directly by email when possible... although it sometimes takes me a while!