Sunday, January 02, 2011

Arts and Crafts Textiles

I've just read a fabulous book:  Textiles of the Arts and Crafts Movement (Linda Parry), and while the text was interesting the images of textile designs has really captured me and opened my eyes to designers from the Arts and Crafts Movement other than William Morris.

This is part of a textile designed by Walter Crane, called "The Colonies".  It was designed for the Royal Jubilee of 1887.  The pattern was descibed at the time as 'a kind of apotheosis of the British Empire expressed in a figurative way.' (part quote from the book:  Textiles of the Arts and Crafts Movement (Linda Parry)).

Looking at the colonies depicted raised some interesting thoughts and questions.  They are from Left to right:  south Africa, Australia, India, Britannia, Canada.

Thoughts and questions:
* Australia is the only woman wearing shoes.  Canada, possibly has stockings on, while the other three women are barefoot.
* Headwear is another interesting distinction.  What is that obsession with Britannia wearing a Roman, or even possibly as Spartan helmet?
*Each country is depicted by its textiles - eg lepoard skin for South Africa, Wool for Australia, fur for Canada, silk for India
* Where are the other colonies - is New Zealand in the original fabric, or Malaysia?
* The depiction of South Africa as a blonde woman, with european features and a sunburnt skin - seems at odds with what women of the age would have been doing - ie staying out of the sun
* And prehaps an odd thing to notice, that of the women who face forwards Britannia has the biggest boobs?

How much reflects what the artist new about each colony, and how much is modelled on women he knew?

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