The draft of this Newsletter optimistically included Spring in the title, we settled on the less controversial May Newsletter. We will say no more about the British weather until it changes.
The Tweed Run
May Day Bank Holiday weekend saw us wheeling out the vintage Pashley two-seater for our second London Tweed Run. The efforts of participants in terms of outfits and bicycles is of an ever increasing standard, this ‘metropolitan bicycle ride with a bit of style’ is becoming a must-attend spectacle for those with two-wheeled or vintage interests. Many thanks to the folks at Brooks for inviting us along. Read more and view the photographs of our day in the CHERCHBI Journal.
We have visited a number of exhibitions in London recently, David Shrigley and Jeremy Deller at the South Bank Centre (ends this Sunday 13 May), Yayoi Kusama at the Tate Modern (ends 5 June) andDavid Hockney‘s A Bigger Picture at the Royal Acadamy of Arts whose iPad-generated paintings must be seen to be believed as they’re technically and aesthetically wonderful.
Scott’s Last Expedition at the Natural History Museum left a lasting impact. The exhibition marks the centenary of Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s final 1910-13 Terra Nova expedition to Antarctica. A wealth of information and artefacts are displayed including items of equipment, provisions and specimens. Despite the obvious tragedy, the expedition could claim some successes in scientific terms, and scientific discovery was a major goal. The film footage and large scale photographs by expedition photographer Herbert Ponting provide gritty glimpses into the reality of expedition life. The excerpts of Scott’s diary, read out toward the exhibition’s end, sum up the courage and selflessness of the five men who perished on their return from the pole. The exhibition continues until 2 September ’12.
Next month, British Design 1948 – 2012 at the V & A and hopefully the Hermes Leather Forever exhibition.
John Smedley Factory Visit
In late April I headed north to Derbyshire for my first, long-overdue to visit to the John Smedley factory at Lea Mills near Matlock. Overdue, as I bought my first peice of John Smedley knitwear age 14 and have had a very deep admiration for the company ever since. They also have a large and reasonably priced factory shop at the mill. I can’t explain why it took me so long but am certain it won’t be 30 years until my next visit. Visit the CHERCHBI Journal for the indepth write up and 40 photographs.
New Balance 30 years
Around the time I was unwittingly starting a life-long fascination with fine English knitwear, the first pairs of New Balance trainers were rolling off the production line in West Cumbria. The excellent Visit Flimby website provides more information on the company’s UK manufacturing presence over the past three decades and features some of their long standing employees including Roy Bell, shoemaker and Northern Soul Boy.
We keep an ear and eye on on the media, particularly when British manufacture or bags are involved. It’s often still a surprise when we see one of our own and this invariably results in a moment of nervousness as we scan the page to ascertain the tone of review. Thankfully on this ocasion,Selectism and Lineage of Influence, have taken a shine to the English Union bags.
War Department bag
The most recent addition to our reference archive is this vintage leather British War Department bag. I like the simple folded construction and oversized stitching, rivets and hardware. This won’t directly influence future design direction, but it’s interesting reference. I don’t know the intended use, the metal lining suggests tools or munitions possibly. I would be interested to know if anyone has any ideas.
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