Monday, 16 September 2013

Awe and Inspiration from Stella McCartney to Phoebe Hart

I'm interviewing Stella McCartney later, and I'm feeling a bit butterfly-ie about it.  I always get them before interviewing people I really admire.  I was almost sick before I interviewed Marina Abramovic, but in the event needn't have worried as she barely drew breath (which I wasn't expecting from an artist who has made silence such a feature of her work.)  With Stella I'm awed not only because she's brilliant but because she continually accomplishes so much, and the more I research her the more I realise I don't seem to do anything, really.  (Also, I now know that I actually need a heart-shaped wood in the grounds of my country house.)

So I'm thinking about rugs again in order to distract myself.  Let's return to Luke Irwin, and his children's collection!  (Stella has four children.  Two of each.  I'd love that.  I really want a couple more - and so does Sholto who asked only yesterday if I had enough money to go and buy more babies.)  So, if and when I have four children, and they all have a bedroom each, this is what they'll have under their feet:



Ball Games


However, heavenly as these carpets are - and they really, really are - just buying them wouldn't necessarily be achieving anything in a Stella-worthy superstar sort of way.  Especially not when one considers that a lot of my time recently (when not researching Ms. McCartney) has been devoted to pouring over a review copy of Remarkable Rugs, The Inspirational Art of Phoebe Hart:

Phoebe Hart made these - and many more - entirely by hand, and entirely by herself.  She led a fascinating life:  she worked on set designs for the Ballets Russes, not under Diaghilev but later, in London, under Polunin, while following the Stage Decoration and Design course that he launched at the Slade School of Art in 1929.  After the war, and the death of her first husband, she moved to Jamaica (by way of Manhattan) and there met her second husband and started to create needlework designs, working with a rehabilitation craft scheme for post-tuberculor patients.  They exported as far as Liberty's - as in our Liberty's, here in London - and it was her designs that were chosen to present to the Queen on her visits to the island.  

And then, inspired by a friend, and using early American folk techniques, she started making actual rugs such as the two above.  They're amazing.  The entire book is full of the most exquisite designs featuring endless flora and fauna.  Here are some details:

See, amazing amazing, no?  It's clear that I'm going to have to learn to make rugs - although these are not going anywhere near any floor; should I ever achieve anything this impressive, it's being hung on a wall.  (Where my parents, for some reason, still have not hung my GCSE weaving project, my only real attempt at anything similar thus far.  I realise that it does not even begin to compare to these in beauty, and it's references are nowhere near as interesting or varied; it is, in fact, just a length of greeny yellow weaving with some red pom poms attached - yes!  For those who guessed, I was indeed inspired by Monet's poppy fields - but still . . . )

Anyway, I can thoroughly recommend the book.  It's got so much in it; so many details, both of the rugs themselves and of the different techniques that Hart used.  Truly, if anything is going to get me crafting, it's this.   And, actually, my making rugs is marginally more likely than my ever being invited to design all the clothes and uniforms for all the British teams for the Olympics. Or designing a capsule collection for Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop, as well as four Stella McCartney collections each year, the Kids collections, the Stella McCartney for Adidas collections . . .   Oh, or be in a position to fund three scholarships for the MA course at Central St. Martin's.

The butterflies are back.
Remarkable Rugs, The Inspirational Art of Phoebe Hart, by Harriet Hart (her daughter) is published this Friday the 20th September.  But it here now, on Amazon!  It's amazing!