Needlework Development Scheme: Symposium

_IGP1531Last Wednesday we had the pleasure of attending a symposium about the Needlework Development Scheme held at Edinburgh College of Art/University of Edinburgh.

The Needlework Development Scheme is an important and overlooked part of Scotland’s textile history. Founded by Scottish thread manufactures J&P Coats in 1934 with the specific intention of educating through study and practice, a collection of over 3,500 embroideries was distributed when the scheme disbanded in 1961, between Edinburgh College of Art, Glasgow School of Art, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, Grays School of Art, The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Embroiders Guild and The Royal Scottish Museum.

Edinburgh College of Art has, like the other institutions involved, a beautiful collection of antique textile samples, once part of the ambitious Needlework Development Scheme (NDS) that aimed to “encourage interest in embroidery and raise the standard of design and technique.” ECA’s collection has been lying inert in boxes, hidden in the ECA board room wine cellar, only rediscovered in 2011, exactly fifty years since the Scheme ended in 1961.

A project entitled Revival and Re-invention, embroidery heritage in the 21st century, is currently underway. The main objective of this project is to re-establish connections between these institutions, re-linking the collection and scoping focal points to ensure an exciting future for the collection with relevance for education in the 21st century.

Frances Lennard, senior lecturer in Textile Conservation at the University of Glasgow, inspecting an item from ECA's NDS collection

Frances Lennard, Senior Lecturer in Textile Conservation at the University of Glasgow, inspecting an item from ECA’s NDS collection

_IGP1539Last week’s Symposium was the first of hopefully many attempts to get all the institutions with NDS collections together to discuss the future of the NDS. In the morning, Lindy Richardson, Programme Director of Textiles at ECA, and invited speakers, including Frances Lennard, Senior Lecturer in Textile Conservation at the University of Glasgow; GSA’s Archivist Susannah Waters, and Matthew Jarron, curator of  Museum Services at the University of Dundee, spoke about the history of the scheme, the idiosyncrasies of the various institutional NDS collections, and the conservation of textiles. In the afternoon we had a chance to view items from ECA’s NDS collection, then we had group discussions about the potential, for example, to reinstate the scheme; to create an online resource; and to provide wider access to the collections. The event was a great success: We all learned from each other about the care of our collections; shared best practice and exchanged knowledge about the history of the NDS and about how the collections can be used in the future.

As part of a tour of the country’s NDS collections, Lindy Richardson and Lucie Whitmore from Edinburgh College of Art visited us a few months ago to view GSA’s NDS collection (see our previous blog post).

Visit the Revival and Re-invention project website for more details. You can also view a selection of Glasgow School of Art’s NDS pieces on our flickr.

GSA alumnus David Shrigley nominated for Turner Prize

Detail from David Shrigley piece in GSA Archives and Collections Centre

Detail from David Shrigley piece in GSA Archives and Collections

Glasgow School of Art alumnus David Shrigley has been nominated for this year’s Turner Prize, which is to be held at Ebrington in Derry-Londonderry, 2013’s UK City of Culture, in December.  He is shortlisted for his solo exhibition Brain Activity, at London’s Hayward Gallery.  Turner Prize organisers said the exhibition was a “comprehensive overview” that revealed “his black humour, macabre intelligence and infinite jest”.

Detail from David Shrigley piece in GSA Archives and Collections

Detail from David Shrigley piece in GSA Archives and Collections

Shrigley is the ninth GSA graduate to have been nominated for this prestigious prize in the past ten years. Since its inception, there have also been four winners to hail from GSA: Simon Starling, Richard Wright, Douglas Gordon and Martin Boyce.

Shrigley studied Environmental Art at the Glasgow School of Art from 1988 to 1991. Best known for his humorous line drawings, he also makes sculptures, photographs, paintings and animated films. We have one piece by him in our collection from his student days. As you can see, the style and themes are familiar and show similarities with his later works. GSA Library also holds his dissertation.

For more information about this year’s nominees, see the Tate website.

Detail from David Shrigley piece in GSA Archives and Collections Centre

Detail from David Shrigley piece in GSA Archives and Collections

Detail from David Shrigley piece in GSA Archives and Collections

Detail from David Shrigley piece in GSA Archives and Collections

Mackintosh clocks feature on BBC News

ClockYou may remember our previous post about the Mackintosh Clocks Project. Well,  after many months of hard work by horologists Nick Sanders and Ken Chappelle, the clocks are ready to be installed.

Yesterday we welcomed BBC Scotland’s Arts Correspondent Pauline McLean to the Archives and Collections Centre where she interviewed Curator Peter Trowles about the project. She also spoke to Nick and Ken on location in Ken’s workshop. You can read today’s BBC news article here.

The clocks are also to be featured on today’s Reporting Scotland.

Horologist Kenneth Chapelle conserving one of the clocks. Image courtesy of BBC.

Horologist Kenneth Chapelle conserving one of the clocks. Image courtesy of BBC.

In June 2011, the Archives and Collections Centre was awarded a grant by Museums Galleries Scotland under its Recognition scheme. The amount awarded was £16,800.

The Mackintosh Studio Clocks restoration project intends to conserve and reinstate the original studio clocks, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1910. The importance of these wooden clocks is that they were run as an electrically operated ‘master and slave’ system – a rare and important technical innovation of the time. The 19 distinctive square studio clocks are linked to a master clock which should send an electrical pulse ensuring they all show the same time. As horologist Nick Sanders has said “With this system they all move together, they are all very precise and very, very accurate.”

Since the early 1990s the clocks have no longer worked (caused mainly by the failure of various technical components). The project seeks to reinstate the clocks back to their original working condition and to provide evidence as to their significance to early 20th century British horology.

GSA Tour Guides visit the ACC

Last night some of the team of GSA tour guides visited the Archives and Collections Centre to explore further research materials to help inform their tours.

The School’s collection includes the student registers where Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who studied at, and subsequently design the school, is listed.

Mackintosh curator Peter Trowles answered many questions on the building plans and construction from the curious tour guides.

The School’s collection holds Mackintosh’s Northern Italian Sketchbook, a digitised version of which can be accessed online here.

The School’s Archivist Susannah Waters discussed the academic and social history of the School and student life throughout the ages.

‘The Magazine’, a student publication by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his contemporaries at the GSA, in the Archives and Collections Centre. This recently digitised resource can be explore online here

Fore more information about GSA’s award winning tours, visit their website.

New posts on Glasgow Miracle project blog

Not one, not two, but three new posts by project volunteers on the Glasgow Miracle project blog for you.


Visit the blog to read the articles:

Social Culture and Special Unit Sculpture

The 1990 TSWA Four Cities Project in Glasgow and the proposals that never materialised 

The National Archives of Scotland

New Walking Tour: Kilmahew estate featuring St Peter’s Seminary

GKC_CC_2_1_17 WBThe Royal Geographical Society has just published a brand new walk (see the Kilmahew walk eflyer) as part of the Discovering Britain project. Hidden in the woods of Kilmahew Glen is an abandoned country estate with the ruined remains of habitation from the medieval to the modern period. Kilmahew has had many incarnations, each new vision and design has been followed by decline and ruin. Amidst a landscape of woods and rhododendrons are stone, brick, iron and concrete features that offer a tantalising glimpse of the buildings and structures that once stood here.

The walk features the ruins of St Peter’s Seminary, Gillespie, Kidd & Coia’s architectural gem. Built in the 1960s, the site has been abandoned since 1980. On the walk you can find out about how an arts organisation is planning to revitalise the site.

You can download written and audio guides from the website. The booklet (available to download here: Kilmahew – walk booklet) includes some nice images of St Peter’s Seminary from our Gillespie, Kidd & Coia archive.

GKC_CC_2_1_14 WBGKC_CC_2_1_3 WB

For more information about the Gillespie, Kidd & Coia archive at Glasgow School of Art, see here. See also our recent post about  BBC Radio 4 programme The Concrete and the Divine, which included an interview with GKC partner Andy MacMillan.


Where? A trip north of the border…

Rebecca Wade (AHRC Postdoctoral Researcher, “Connecting with Collections”, Museum of Classical Archaeology at the University of Cambridge) recently visited us in relation to her research project about teaching aids and plaster casts – we’re really pleased her visit was so useful. Best of luck with the project, Rebecca!

Connecting with Collections

I have recently returned from a visit to Scotland to see the plaster cast collections in Edinburgh and Glasgow. In Edinburgh it was the Trustees’ Academy, founded in the late eighteenth century, that built a teaching collection of plaster casts for the teaching of drawing. This collection was augmented when the Academy shifted its institutional identity under the Department of Science and Art from 1858. The casts are now distributed between Edinburgh College of Art, the Scottish National Gallery and the University of Edinburgh.

Heading west, I visited the Glasgow School of Art, where the curator Peter Trowles was kind enough to share his knowledge of their extensive collections. The archive of the GSA is particularly rich in the ephemera related to the acquisition of plaster casts, with a wealth of useful invoices and correspondence from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It was particularly…

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The Colour Reference Library

The Colour Reference Library (CRL) at the Royal College of Art is one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of colour-related publications in the world. Containing well over a thousand books, together with pamphlets, swatches and journals, the library covers numerous aspects of the vast field of colour-based studies, encompassing art and science, theory and practice.

The collection’s many strengths include sections on colour and human psychology, the history of dyestuffs, and the 19th-century study of decorative ornament, with tangential subjects ranging from colour healing to camouflage. The greatest colour theorists, from Newton and Goethe to Chevreul and Albers, are well represented through their key works, alongside other significant, if lesser-known, figures such as Mary Gartside and Maxwell Armfield. The CRL also includes a wide selection of published colour systems and standards, ranging in subject from lead paint to the pigmentation of human skin. Despite its apparent focus on a single subject, the span and application of the collection is considerable: it is at once historical and contemporary, practical and theoretical, arcane and accessible.

RCA Special Collections is located on the top floor of the Library in the Common Room Block of the Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2EU. Please e-mail or telephone +44 (0)20 7590 4234 to arrange a visit. See the Colour Reference Library website for more information.

Closer to home, GSA Library also holds lots of reference material relating to colour and colour theory in Special Collections. See the guide to the collection here. Glasgow even has its very own Colour Studies Group. See their website for more information.

Discussion of Joan Eardley on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour

Italian Farmhouse, by Joan Eardley, 1948-1949

Italian Farmhouse, by Joan Eardley, 1948-1949

Friday’s Woman’s Hour looked back on Joan Eardley, one of the most celebrated painters to live and work in Scotland during the last century. It’s 50 years since she died and there have been various events recently to celebrate her life and work.

Joan Eardley (1921-1963) graduated from the Glasgow School of Art in 1943 and went on to secure a post-diploma scholarship in 1948–1949 that enabled her to travel to Italy and France, the subjects of many of the pieces we have by her in our collection. In 1955 Eardley was elected an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy, and was made into a full member in 1963. She was at the time the youngest female artist to achieve this.

Catterline, Aberdeenshire, by Joan Eardley

Catterline, Aberdeenshire, by Joan Eardley

In 1950 she ‘discovered’ and began to paint at Catterline, on the coast between Inverbervie and Stonehaven. She moved there in 1956, using a deserted cottage as a studio and base whilst she worked outside. The landscapes that were completed at Catterline provide an interesting contrast to her studies completed in Glasgow which often featured children living in deprived areas.

You can listen to the programme here. The discussion of Joan Eardley is around 32 minutes in.

Joan Eardley

In the Loop: Knitting Reference Library at University of Southampton

The Knitting Reference Library at The University of Southampton

The Knitting Reference Library at The University of Southampton

We’ve recently discovered a wonderful resource for all things knit.

The Knitting Reference Library is based at the University of Southampton’s Winchester Campus. It includes about 3,000 books, over 10,000 knitting patterns plus knitting pattern books and a comprehensive collection of journals and magazines. The printed books date back to the 1840s commencing with about 70 Victorian knitting manuals. The knitting patterns commence in the 1920s and  cover a wide variety of  knitted clothing, knitting for the home, knitted dolls’ clothes and knitted novelties. The knitting patterns are complimented by a wide selection of knitting pattern books.

The foundation of this resource is made up of material from Richard Rutt, Montse Stanley and Jane Waller. Visitors are welcome to use this resource, please contact for more information.

 Check out the blog for the Knitting Reference Library.