Sunday, 27 February 2011

A Day in Worthing

Last Friday, I spent a day in the archives of Worthing Museum.  It is a very small museum but houses the most interesting collections.  I spent the day in the dress archives.  I have been to the the museum so I knew what I was looking.  I specifically wanted to inspect an Edwardian dress that had been refashioned in the 1930s to evening dress.

I arrived at around 10.30 and didn't leave until the museum closed at 5pm.  I had the most wonderful day.  The dress collection curator, Kate Loubser is welcoming and very helpful.  I spent all day chatting to her and a volunteer, Ciara (one of Lou Taylor's ex students).  Not only did I get to examine my dress but I saw so much more.

Worthing Museum has the most extensive dress collection.  On display right now, in the 'Blooming Marvellous' exhibition is an incredibly rare 17th century black work embroidered bodice.  It is quite stunning.  None of the garments are behind glass (God knows, I hope the moths don't get in) so you can have a good look and get really close. up

Display mannequin from 'The Corset Station"

Girdle from "The Corset Station" 30cm in length
That day,  Kate showed me the most incredible collection of lingerie.  They had been donated by a shop that had recently closed down.  ' The Corset Station' had been located in the nearby town of Burgess Hill.  The lingerie was used for display purposes and was fitted to a small mannequin.  If you can imagine, the above girdle was no more than 30cm in length.  The detail was incredible.  The mere fact that they came from a shop called the 'Corset Station' is evocative of times past.  The two photos (above) are  from a collection of about ten pieces.  It is shame about the foxing stains and the rubber on the suspender straps are beginning go but thankfully they are now in acid free and being conserved for the likes of me to marvel at.  To think that this sort of attire was the every day underwear for the majority of women and not that long ago either.

Mary Quant

On the subject of lingerie, a pair of knickers from the early 60's had just been brought in. They also had suspender straps on.  The label was very faded but under magnification we were able to see that they were made by  'Mary Quant' for her 'youth range'.   What is really interesting is that the flower on the front is typical of her 'flower' signature yet it has an extra petal.  Maybe this was the beginning of the evolvment  of the symbolic Mary Quant 'flower'.  Worth thinking about.

Here's something else to think about and it has nothing to do with historic clothing but has a lot to do with waste which is really what this PhD is all about - preventing waste.   This information came via my sister who has a friend whose husband is serving out in Afghanistan.  He is working on an American and English base.  There is no water on this base so it is all brought in.  As there is no water to waste they can't wash up so all their plates and cutlery are disposable.  Apparently, it costs $30 a day to supply each person on the base with disposoble eating utensils.  There are 9000 people on that base.  All the disposable cutlery and plates then get burnt after use.  Think about it.  I want to cry.  The world has gone mad.

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