Monday, 12 August 2013

Subterfuge Cushion Shopping

I believe I've mentioned, several times, the excess of cushions in our house.   And I have become exceptionally proficient at hiding any new purchases from my husband:  arranging delivery for when he's out; smuggling them in under the buggy hidden in a Boots carrier bag; stashing them in the children's tent until such a time that he's in a sufficiently good mood not to mind that I accidentally acquired more.

But recently I've found a new way to get them past door control, thus far totally successful, not least due to the beneficially discreet size which enables them to be imported in my handbag.  The trick is to bring them in in scarf format.  Yes, it's true, they're not actually cushions, but they're going to be, just as soon as I get around to backing them, decorating them with tassels or pompoms or both, and finding a suitable cushion pad:

This fabric was originally made in 1930 to celebrate the Soviet aircraft industry, and is currently available to buy, as a silk scarf, from GRAD, the recently opened Gallery for Russian Arts and Design on Little Portland Street.  I love it.  I think it is amazing.  The gallery, when organising the exhibition, got a textile factory to make them up, using the original pattern.  There's also this one:

Originally designed in 1927 to celebrate the 2nd Congress of the Textile Workers.  Again, amazing.  I love the dynamism, the futurism, the very machine-ness of it all.  As the Dada-ist George Grosz notably said "Art is Dead!  Long live the machine art of Tatlin!"  (well, actually, he didn't say it so much as write it on a placard.)

The exhibition at GRAD is not just about textiles.  It's chiefly a collection of early InTourist posters (there was a time, before World War Two, when one was positively encouraged to go and experience the utopian pleasures of Communism) and explores the stylistic differences between them, examining the legacy of artists such as Tatlin and Malevich and all those other greats of the Russian avant-garde.

Henry Milner after Nikolay Zhukov; the amazing thing about about this one is that it was made especially for the exhibition by Henry Milner, who is the son of John Milner, who wrote the book on Tatlin!  (Though I imagine that there is a limited audience who are going to be excited about that fact.)  

Aleksandr Froloff

Aleksandr Zhitomirksy

Maria Nestorova

Nikolay Zhukov

Nikolay Zhukov

It truly was a different age.  It still makes me want to load the children into the car and set off across the Caucasus, though, and doesn't that spa looks lovely?!  I took the Trans-Siberian from Moscow to Ulaan Batuur one summer.  It took days, and all there was to eat was caviar, cucumber and chocolate (actually quite an effective diet, it transpired.) I spent my time reading War and Peace, playing snap in the restaurant car and staring out of the window at the birch trees.  I'd like to do it again, only this time to Vladivostok.  One day . . .

Meanwhile, I've got cushions to make.

All images courtesy of GRAD:  Gallery for Russian Arts and Design and

GRAD, 3-4a Little Portland Street, W1W 7JB