Monday, 3 June 2013

A sight for sore eyes

I had a highly enjoyable day out with friends on Saturday.  We'd arranged it ages ago - thanks to the most organised of the three of us - but it came around really suddenly.

It started with an unexpected military escort!  I had plenty of time for once, so I thought that I'd get off the tube one stop early and walk through Green Park to the Queen's Gallery instead of going to Victoria and walking along a load of grey streets.  However, that was a really bad idea as Saturday was the Queen's Coronation celebrations and all the Piccadilly Cowboys (or the Royal Horse Guards as I believe they are called officially) were lined up in their finery outside Buckingham Palace and it was impossible to cross the Mall from Green Park to the Queen's Gallery.

So, after a brisk walk around the boudary of the Queen's back garden I met my friends outside the gallery to see In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion.  It is mainly paintings from the Royal Collection, but there are also some beautiful examples of items of clothing from the period and the whole exhibition clarifies and explains the fashions, they whys and wherefores etc of Court clothing.  The Queen's Gallery isn't a huge gallery and I could quite happily have seen twice the amount that was on show.  Nevertheless, we spent a few delightful hours looking at wonderful paintings and drooling over amazing needlework ranging from Cavallier lace collars to Henrietta Maria's hand embroidered (tiny) slippers to coats of armour.  My favourite item, I think, was a stunning lady's waistcoat embroidered with scrolling leaves and roses, rosehips, bluebells, periwinkles and other beautiful flora and fauna. The condition was fantastic and the needlework was outstanding.  There was a short film included in the audio guide to the type of embroidery on this waistcoat and the professional embroideress giving the demonstration said that she couldn't do that type of work under the conditions of that period full time!  I just HAD to buy myself the exhibition catalogue to drool over in my own time, along with a spoof 'Vogue' magazine, called 'Robe' - hilarious.

The young Elizabeth I
Charles II in his first 'grown up' suit - with his siblings
Amazing detail by Rembrandt
After a civilised lunch in St. James' Park we headed south to Bermondsey to the Museum of Fashion and Textiles to see the Kaffe Fassett exhibition.  I've a couple of his books (Glorious Needlepoint to name one), so it was fabulous to see his work, including many of the items from his books.  I must admit that I'd 'lost touch' with his work recently and hadn't realised that he'd branched out into quilting too.  I'm not a great knitter, so this was a real treat for me.  As you can imagine, if you're familiar with his work, it was a riot of colour and bold in all senses of the word.  Unfortunately, my camera battery had died by then, so I've only some poor quality mobile phone photos for you.


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