Monday, 30 July 2012

The London Hatwalk

21 of London's most iconic statute have been given a millinery make-over in Olympic spirit, for a collaboration between the Mayor of London, BT, Grazia magazine, the British Fashion Council and the London 2012 Festival.

George IV and his steed - London 2012

Lord Admiral Nelson - London 2012

Queen Victoria - The Guardian

Beau Brummel - Trace Publicity

Franklin Roosevelt with Winston Churchill - The Telegraph

Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Olympics Are Finally Here!

After years of preparation and build-up, the 2012 Olympic Games have finally arrived in London!

The opening ceremony yesterday evening was fantastic - so different from the last one in Beijing, but equally mesmerising and memorable. I just kept thinking, I wish I had been part of the costume team!

I have to admit, at first I found the pastoral English country scene a little cringe-worthy... from a costume point of view it was great, but was it really the way to present the modern, worldly, 2012 Great Britain to the rest of the world? Not really...

But then, in a sudden change into organised chaos, the scene began to unfold and slowly draw in the audience. As the fields of grass were rolled away and towering chimneys rose from underground, it dawned on us! They were telling the story of Britain! Suddenly it all made sense!

So, with hundreds of people dressed in medieval costume, Victorian dress, nurses, children, monsters and some Mary Poppins too, it must have been an incredible project for the wardrobe team. There were about 10,000 costumes (designed by Suttirat Larlarb, who worked with Danny Boyle on Slumdog Millionaire), worked on by only about 150 volunteers. Read an interview with Suttirat Larlarb at Time.com .

Since Friday night's spectacular performance, some props and costume pieces have found their way onto Ebay, the online selling site. According to the Telegraph, an 'Industrial Revolution' costume was on sale for £2500, while other outfits such as a 'Male Nurse' costume or '1990s Fluorescent Outfit' were going for around £2000! The volunteers were told that their costumes belonged to them after the show, and they were free to do what they liked with them, so I'm not too upset that people are making the most of this opportunity. Some volunteers have expressed anger concerning these actions, but you know, we have to understand that not everybody appreciates owning a full Victorian costume - to some it just takes up valuable space in their wardrobe!

Anyway, had it been me I would have definitely kept my costume, but more importantly I would have signed up to volunteer backstage, had my birthday been in January rather than March!

Did you volunteer for the Olympics in London, whether behind the scenes or in front of the 80,000 strong audience? Or were you part of that huge audience? Of course, the ceremony was broadcast world-wide to millions of people, so tell me what you thought of it in the comments!

(Images from BBC photo gallery)

Thursday, 26 July 2012

When I Grow Up!

Yesterday I went to see Matilda the musical!

As a birthday present to each other (a very late one, our birthdays were at the end of March!), a friend and I finally went to see the award-winning show, based on the well-known book by Roald Dahl,  in London’s Covent Garden. I first heard about the production through a friend at school, and after listening to a few songs on YouTube I just couldn’t wait to see it. This year at the Olivier Award this new musical won an incredible seven awards, including ‘best actress in a musical’, won jointly by the four girls who play Matilda. With music by Tim Minchin, and Matthew Warchus as director, this show could not fail to impress!
The production is designed by award winning designer, Rob Howell. The set and scenery revolves around the theme of school – blocks of letters are used to decorate the theatre/ stage-front. The scenery made of piled up squares is wonderfully simple and childish, and leaves the audience to immerse themselves in Matilda’s world and use their imagination to complete the scene. Of course, school uniform featured, but my favourite costume would have to be Ms Trunchbull’s – the first moment David Leonard stood up out of the chair in his first scene, and the audience roared with laughter at the absurdity of Trunchbull’s humungous chest was fantastic, a great example of how costume design can add an extra dimension to a character and a scene!

Take a look at some photos (from the Matilda website) ...

See the RSC’s ‘Matilda’ at the Cambridge Theatre in London’s Covent Garden until 2013, when it will transfer to Broadway, New York. See the websitefor more information.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Yinka Shonibare at the Royal Opera House

Photo by Sim Canetty-Clarke
As part of the 2012 Up Project, the Royal Opera House in London commissioned a piece of work by artist Yinka Shonibare, MBE: 'Globe Head Ballerina' is now on display at the Opera House in Covent Garden, and will remain there until June 2017. Until recently, Shonibare also had one of his piece on the Fourth PLinth at Trafalgar Square - 'Nelson's Ship In A Bottle'.

Shonibare is famous for his installations and textile works questioning the idea of identity and heritage. He uses African-print fabrics, that have been produced, ironically, using Dutch printing methods, then sold in London markets, to create 18th-19th Century traditional English clothing modelled by headless mannequins. I did a lot of research in my A2 art coursework last year at school on Shonibare and his work. He is particularly interesting for people interested in costume as he uses clothing as his principal art-form, as well as using fabric symbolically.

Take a look at some more of his work...

See more of Yinka Shonibare's work on his website, and if you're in London, why not go and see 'Globe Head Ballerina' at the Royal Opera House?

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Wine and Wares Evening - Winchmore Hill

The Queen's Head Pub on Station Road in Winchmore Hill (London, N21) is hosting a Wine and Wares evening tomorrow, Monday 16th July. Showtime Stitches will have a stall there - so come and visit us from 7pm! We look forward to seeing you there!

For more information, go to the Facebook event page: click here!

(Photo from The Queen's Head Facebook page)

Friday, 13 July 2012

Cut-Out Ceramic Tealight Holders

During the last few weeks of school in May, I learnt to throw clay on the wheel (I also made dresses out of ceramics for my A Level Art project this year - take a look at them here!). It was really exciting, and different to anything I've ever done before. I thought at first it might be similar to using a sewing machine, using a pedal to control it and all, but I was very wrong! I'll just say that my sewing talent was not reflected in ceramics, but I did manage to make these tealight holders, with cut-out star shapes!

I did start off trying to make three identical pots, but as you can see it didn't turn out quite that way, so I made each one a slightly different shape to add a bit of character! I glazed them white on the outside, translucent blue-green on the inside - I love the way the inside glaze collected at the bottom and crackled...

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Propstore Pop-Up Café/Bar at the NT

Walking along the Southbank the other day, I passed the new pop-up café/bar run by the National Theatre. The Propstore is constructed using pieces of sets, scenery and props from previous NT productions (for example, the facades at each side are from The Comedy of Errors, 2012) and is open every day from 12PM, and remains open with live music and DJs until 2AM on Fridays and Saturdays.

Photos from the National Theatre Facebook Page.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Damien Hirst's 'Butterfly Paintings' and Sarah Burwash's Illustrations

I finally got round to seeing the Damien Hirst exhibition at the Tate Modern!

Although I'm not a fan of much of his work (the controversial question "What is art?" comes to mind here...), I thought this exhibition would be a great way to see Hirst's work in the flesh (literally!) which I've never had a chance to do before. I was looking forward to seeing Hirst's butterfly paintings the most, close-ups of which were used on the advertisement posters.

From a distance, Hirst's butterfly paintings look like photos or glass windows. The perfectly symmetrical patterns are beautiful and entrancing. The fact that they were made of real butterfly wings could be distressing for some, however the ethical aspect didn't really come to mind when I was looking at such a visual, awe-inspiring piece with so many capturing details. My favourite is the  minimalistic in design, circular arrangement of blue and white wings: Symphony in White Major.

Then, while reading Design Sponge blog, I came across a post on Canadian illustrator Sarah Burwash. Her illustrations of small objects in a circle reminded me of Hirst's piece above. Collecting tiny yet detailed items in this arrangement is not just unusual, defying the regular rectangular composition of artwork, but is visually pleasing too. Everything is kept neat, tidy and documentary - alluding to samples kept in Natural History Museums. The subjects become items for closer investigation, rather than becoming meaningless drawings.

Take a look at a few of Sarah Burwash's beautiful illustrations:

Damien Hirst is on until 9th September at the Tate Modern, London. For more information go the the Tate website.

See more of Sarah Burwash's art work on her website.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

A Quick Guide to Camden Passage

Last weekend I had a quick walk through Camden Passage in Islington, home to vintage shops, antique stalls selling a variety of wares from coins to photographs, and many lovely cafés.

Behind the first anitque stalls (coming from Angel tube station) is a treasure trove of vintage illustration plates - botanical drawings to military costume studies. These are great as artworks to frame and display - personally, I'm looking for a big fashion plate showing different types of vintage military costumes. I saw one in a Paris antique market, but let's just say it wasn't on the cheap side!

There are a few great vintage shops along the passage, Annie's being one of them. They have a wonderful selection of vintage costume pieces, from silk nightwear to fur coats. They also stock a great collection of vintage lace, trimmings and sewing accessories.

I came across these great prints on one stall - I love the use of bright bold colours, and antique style. Especially the Elephant/Tiger print - great for the circus theme!

Visit Camden Passage in Islington (just off Upper Street) on Wednesdays or Saturdays - nearest tube station is Angel, on the Northern Line.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Ray Stitch - My New Favourite Fabric Shop!

I took a trip to Angel Islington this weekend, for an arty crafty shopping trip! I went to Cass Art and Loop before heading to Ray Stitch, on Essex Road, a beautifully and impeccably presented fabric and haberdashery shop, with the added bonus of a café!

Ray Stitch, the 'one-stop sewing shop', was opened by Rachel Hart in August 2011 following the success of her online shop.  It's a two-floor haven for textile lovers, stocking pretty fabrics of fantastic quality.

After a browse, I settled on buying some lovely floral print cotton to make a few cushion covers, and picked up some cute blue print and green dotty fabric to make some purses. I loved the vibrancy of the plain cotton, so I chose some blue and yellow to make some colour-block Circus purses for the Showtime Stitches shop - all lovingly cut and packaged I must say!

I also bought some cute measuring tape ribbon in pink, and some circus print one too. Ray Stitch have a great collection of ribbons of all types, colours, shapes, textures - anything you could dream of and very reasonably priced.

It's great to see a modern, fresh and inspiring haberdashery shop, one with good quality fabrics - much unlike those I usually go to in Edmonton and Walthamstow. Shopping at Ray Stitch was an entirely different experience - the staff are friendly, enthusiastic, and helpful and despite the excellent quality of fabrics, I didn't pay a fortune. Prices aren't that much more than what I usually pay for fabric half as nice, and I will definitely be buying more very soon (and maybe I'll by some cake next time too)! On my shopping list so far is this Papillon fabric, and some lovely Gold Lace Oilcloth. Ooooh and maybe some 'Belinda Sage' Floral Cotton Poplin.....or some fantastic Wallace Swell Ribbon?

I can't wait to visit Ray Stitch again - it's my new favourite fabric shop for sure!

Have a look at what Ray Stitch stock on their website, or visit the shop in person: 99 Essex Road, N1 2SJ (not too far from Angel tube station).

They also run sewing classes for small groups downstairs in their shop: go to the Ray Stitch website for more information!