zondag 16 mei 2010

London.. Day 3 was rather special...

My last day in London started of with packing my bag (and leaving it in the hotel) and going by tube to Knightbridge. I went early (round 8.30) and discovered that it was slightly calmer than when you go round 9. Breakfast (a real good Café-latte with a freshly baked almond croissant) was taken on a terrace looking out on Harrods. I am not a real big fan of Harrods al-tough I must admit that the Food department in the basement is amazing. The plan was to visit the Quilts 1700-2010 exhibition in the V&A which is one of my favourite museums in London. I have been there many times and usually when I am in London I just go in, no matter what exhibitions there are. It is such a wonderful building with amazing collections. They have a beautiful Fashion collection really worth a visit. But I was off to see the big Quilt exhibition.
The museum opens at 10 and I was one of the first to enter and my first look -as always- was on the beautiful glass ornament made by Dale Chiully hanging in the Hall when you enter the building. After buying my ticket I immediately went to the Quilt exhibition where it was very quiet at that moment of the day. It tells the story of Quilts made round 1700 till now. It is a beautiful collection of quilts and each one tells a story. I have made 1 quilt a few years ago and Evelien and myself have Japanese fabric cut in small squares in our studio waiting to be sewn together for years. Quilts nowadays can give the feeling that is it just something you do in your free-time and is a hobby from sometimes elderly women who display them a quilt- exhibitions once a year in a church in the place they live. But that might be a prejudice of me...
But this really was different. Entering the exhibition you stepped back in time and in my imagination I could see all those Men (yes, men were doing it in the past) cutting out the fabric and sewing it by hand together to something stunningly beautiful which was kept in their families for ages. This is a Cot Cover dating round 1690-1720 and made in silk. But Quilts were not only made from exquisite fabrics as could be seen at this striped one made from leftovers from a pyjama factory in Strabane (Northern Ireland) round 1940. Even with this simple fabric I am sure the maker of it must have liked it when it was put on the bed for the first time. Perhaps a matching pyjama was worn with it.... Next to the old and antique ones there were also Quilts in our time. Tracey Emin showed her "To Meet My Past... but One Quilt for me really stood out.
Imagine: I entered a small room and a video was showed from prisoners from Wandsworth Prison who were making a Quilt together. The were telling what it meant to them. No faces were shown but hands sewing and the space they live in.Hexagons were everywhere in the prison so that was the starting-point for them. One man told that he had just heard that his son was death and that sewing this quilt gave him comfort to deal with it. It was such a moving and strong video that even writing about it now I feel tears coming up. I had to cry while watching it and it took a long while before it stopped. It is just the power of the "softness of fabric" which can heal a soul which touched me deeply. It suddenly appeared to me that I had more with fabrics all my life than with Fashion. Textiles always have helped me through difficult periods in my life. I knitted a scarf for Bram when he had his operation 2 years ago and it kept me strong. Maybe this insight might give a change and it appeared to me that the world of Fashion is nothing for me and that must be the reason why I never went in really. I always step aside from (keep on the side of it) it and getting older gives me more and more that feeling. My interest lies in the story and crafts of fabrics rather than in what is made of it. After coming out of the exhibition I bought (of-course) the catalogue and the young woman at the counter told me that lots of people where talking about this quilt and were moved by it. This quilt for me was the highlight of the exhibition because it was so much more than a nice and beautiful image. It touched my heart and I am grateful for those men who gave me this feeling and for the volunteers from Fine Cell Work who worked with them to teach them how to make this quilt.
I than really needed a coffee to calm down but strangely enough I suddenly saw Hexagon shaped tiles in the restaurant..
Because this exhibition made such a big impression on my I decided to go back to my hotel to fetch my stuff and go by train to my Knitting Friend Jon from Easyknits. While walking my way to the tube this text turned up...and it will be my Mantra for the coming months.
While sitting in the tube a rather posh woman was reading a novel from Colm Tóibín named: Brooklyn. Since I read a few novels from him which I really liked at Paddington Station I bought this novel at WH Smith. I did start reading it in the plane back home and finished it the next day. Couldn't stop reading...which is always a good sign to me. Situated in the 1950's this beautiful novel tells the story about a young Irish woman who goes to the USA due to the fact that there was no work for her to find and the States had more to offer. Moving, and the way he tells about her feelings is extraordinary. I also bought "One Day" by David Nicholls. My Scottish colleague Jax was reading it when we were in Slovakia and I have just started it but it is very funny and rather recognizable for me.
Because Bram (and me too)really likes everything from England and Scotland I promised him to take some magazines with me. He is the kind of of person who reads the articles next to the map and usually when we are driving in the UK he than suddenly tells me that the Castle on the left is from this and that family and that the garden is famous for roses etc....He is my private Touring Guide in a way.. So packed with magazines I made my way to the tube...
Jon waited for me at the railway-station and he took me to Greenwich park. It was great being out of the city and walk down the park to the river Thames. We had something to drink in the Stunning Place he will get married with Roy in November (and I am invited too) and later tea and cake in the tea-house in the park. Jon is special to me because he dyed yarn especially for me for my in September to be released sock-pattern. A few years ago I had bought some yarn form him which knitting-friends Carla and Hilly took with them for me when they visited the first I Knit Day in London. Ever since that moment I loved his yarn and 1,5 year ago we met at the I Knit Day. Ever since than we chat by computer and text regularly. So over those years we became friends not seeing each other. We had plenty to talk about - time really went fast- and later Jon took me to his home and I got a copy of the latest:The Knitter (Jon is featured in it) and a beautiful skein: "Squashed Frog". It will be kind of Funky gloves I guess for coming winter so plenty of time to knit those. On Ravelry we did start a thread: "1001 things to do with a Squashed Frog". Jon took me to the airport and we said goodbye with a BIG REAL HUG.
When I came home I had the feeling that I had been away for a week which usually is the feeling when you have spend only a few days away. Of-course I missed Bram in a way, since we have been in London twice together. But I guess the "Heavy Mourning" about the situation he and me are in is sort of over, and I have more or less come in terms with it. Speaking about Bram's health: we got the results of the tests from our new doctor. It is said that he has a lack in certain specific Vitamins and Minerals which link to his condition. He than has to take those for a month and hopefully we will see a result. We keep optimistic about it and we were glad that something was found.
The coming week will be busy with colleagues and students from Glasgow and Púchov coming to our school, but I am really looking forward to it..
P.S. One of the things I took photos of are the fabrics used on the benches in the tubes. On Facebook I have an album for it and in when I will be in Glasgow again I will do the same.. But here is one...

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