A trip to the Horniman Museum

A group of 7 members from Region 4 gathered in the sunny café garden at 11.30am on the 11th of August. I had been wanting to visit the museum to see an exhibition of felt and it seemed a good idea to invite members to join me to see it, expecting maybe a few to come along as it is summer holiday time. I was delighted to get such a good response and over coffee and cake it made a good opportunity to talk about felt and have an informal discussion about plans for the region in 2019.

Coral: Fabric of the Reef by Karen Dodd

After a good catch up we went in to find the exhibition which is at the entrance to the natural history gallery. The work is titled ‘Coral – fabric of the reef’ by textile artist Karen Dodd. There were sixteen individual pieces using a variety of techniques, textured in different ways with felted blanket and cloth, wrapped cords, stitching and dyeing. All particularly inspiring for us as our next play day in September is to explore textures. Most pieces were in a circular format with a neutral colour scheme and each had a different treatment which we pondered over, photographed and discussed.  The pieces behind glass were difficult to get good photos of and I’d recommend you visit Karen’s own website where she has a good images in her gallery if you can’t see it in person. www.karen-dodd.com

‘Coral – fabric of the reef’ by textile artist Karen Dodd.
‘Coral – fabric of the reef’ by textile artist Karen Dodd.

After another visit to the café for lunch we headed out to find the dye garden in the grounds. Unsurprisingly some of the plants had succumbed to the drought but many had survived and the shrubby varieties were flourishing. The beds were nicely adorned with posts wrapped in naturally dyed yarns though it could have had better labelling.

Finally we explored the World galleries in the hope of finding some ancient felts from Mary Burkett’s collection, some of which is held by the museum. Although the cases are crammed with all kinds of delightful objects and textiles, not one piece of felt could be found on display. We are working on a future trip when the felt collection might be especially shown for us. Watch this space!

An unexpected treat on our way to and from the station was a school felt project in the window of the local Sainsbury’s. Again the sun made it hard to photograph but well done to the artist Jo Sheffield Davies and the children of Horniman Primary School for starting them young!

Cathy Unwin, Coordinator Region 4, London and Middlesex.

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