Sunday, 19 February 2012

Half Term Hiatus

A reluctant pause in my studies has been brought about by half term.  My 10 year old has been away from school so not only did I take days off work, I didn't study much for my PhD either.  However, I did bake lots of cup cakes, chocolate chip cookies and even went to see the 'Muppet Movie'.  I just couldn't face 'Star Wars:  The Phantom Menace' in 3D!  I went on a day trip to Cambridge.  Me and my older son took my nephew out for lunch.  I had never been to Cambridge and now have a little secret fantasy that once I am a Dr maybe I could get paid to teach there!!!! (Ha Ha) I loved it, what a gorgeous town.

Back to my work.  I did attend two mornings of RNUAL and heard some interesting confirmation presentations.  I particularly found Morna Laing's presentation on the depiction of the 'child woman in the fashion press' very interesting.  She uses a form of 'discourse analysis' to pull her participant observations together.  I will look into that as it could be relevant for my own research.  I heard Emma Rigby talk.  What is interesting is that two of her participants have altered their trial garments.  I won't go into Emma's presentation, I know all about it however if I do have any interested readers, Emma Rigby and she looking into designing clothes to minimise laundry use.  Two of her participants have adapted their garments.  One had removed the press studs and sewn on buttons and created button holes.  This is a fair amount of work. The button holes had been finished; on a machine or by hand I am not sure.  Another participant had dyed her merino wool undershirt, green.  Now that could be complicated.  So what I am beginning to conclude is that these participants were not afraid to engage and adapt their garments.  This was done without prompting.  She had no idea that they could even sew.  I did question Emma on how she selected her participants.   It was done through advertising, putting up notices on Gum Tree etc so they weren't necessarily a bunch of like minded people.  It is definitely food for my thought.

My Work
It has been very minimal this week.  However, I have been reading Natalie Rothstein.  It is so interesting.   So much work went into the production of this highly decorative woven silk.  My gown, Nancy's gown, Queen Charlotte's gown was produced by the weavers 'Batchelor, Ham and Perigal' and Ms Rothstein mentions their names several times in the opening chapter.  Apparently, one small town in northern France contributed a disproportionate number of migrants, whose family entered the 'Flowered Silk Branch' of the industry, the 'Perigals' being one of them.  I find it very exciting when I touch the silk to actually think that it was woven by these extremely skilled workman who were part of chain of migrants escaping persecution.  Here, I am in 2012 touching it and taking photos on my phone!  I can feel the history!  Literately.  So I  am beginning to contextualise my gown.  There is a book of samples from 'Batchelor, Ham and Perigal' in the V & A.  I think I must visit it.  If they will let me.

Here's a quote that I underlined, as it made me view the patterns in her book from a different perspective.  What I am trying to say is that it is easy to flick through and admire the beautiful designs, photographs and view them as works of art, which of course is what they are but they were originally designed to be sold.

'They are not, however, pretty patterns to be admired, or not in isolation - they had to work technically and they had to sell'.  Rothestein, N.  p17 Silk Designs of the 18th Century

Mercantile capitalism, it was serious stuff.  An apprentice silk weaver spent seven years as a draw boy training!

Bourdieu and Distinction
Oh no.  I had to give the book back to the library.  Someone else wanted it.  Blimey, can't say I was too sorry to take a break from that book.  Here's what I have understood so far.  Taste is manifested in everything people do and possess.

'the basis of all that one has- people and things - and all that one is for others' Bourdieu, P. p56 Distinction

I think I am going to sit in the British Library, where there are no distractions, tap into the collective conscience of concentration that sits in a fug above all those studious scholars  and work that book out 'cos I know it's relevant to me.

Books I am Reading
I am fed up with Pigeon English.  It's great and I love the the main character but there is so much dialogue primarily between teenagers.  I live with two teenagers, enough is enough already!  It's driving me a bit mad.  I might give it up.

I was given 'Love on the Dole' (Walter Greenwood) for Christmas maybe I'll go there.  Set in northern England the 1930s,  it tackles the subject of unemployment and various social issues.  Could be useful.

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