I’ve been into London quite a bit the last few weeks, both for business and pleasure. While there, I have had three textile experiences. The first was quite unexpected. I had a few hours between meetings and decided to spend them working in the British Library. While there I chanced upon the artwork Magna Carta (An Embroidery) by Cornelia Parker. The accompanying text says in part:
Magna Carta (An Embroidery) is a major new artwork by the acclaimed British artist Cornelia Parker that celebrates the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta in 2015. Fabricated by many hands, it replicates in stitch the entire Wikipedia article on Magna Carta as it appeared on the document’s 799th anniversary. […] Cornelia Parker captured the Wikipedia article on Magna Carta on 15 June 2014 and output it as a printed pattern on fabric. The fabric was then divided into 87 sections and sent around the country to be stitched by more than 200 people. The sections were subsequently reunited and sewn together by the Royal School of Needlework, the international centre of excellence for the art of hand embroidery. The finished piece is almost 13 metres long.
It is an arresting piece of needlework with beautiful craftsmanship, which manages to impart a fresh and modern outlook to the Magna Carta. It was lovely to watch its impact on people, many of whom seemed to come upon it by chance as I did and then become captivated by it. Its size makes it nearly impossible to photograph, but you should definitely read the press release put out by the British Library which has many detailed photos, background on the artist and the process, and snippets on many of the people who contributed to the work.
One of the days in which I was working in London was a Thursday, and as I was debating whether to take the train straight home at the end of the day or to hang around in London for a few hours, inspiration hit: Thursday night is Knit Night at Loop in London. I really love Loop, its a great knitting shop with a cool and relaxing atmosphere. I frequently stop there when I am in town but I had never made it to a Knit Night before. It turns out (surprise, surprise) that Knit Nights are fun, and are filled with people who know what you are talking about! It has been a long time since I have chatted with a bunch of knitters and I enjoyed it immensely.
Interestingly, shortly after I arrived, the chair next to me was taken, and I looked up to see someone whose face I know from Ravelry, but had never met. I said “Are you Kate?” and she said “Hello Kelly, I loved what you did with Escher.” So funny. It is the first time that I have run into someone who reads my blog. Funnier still, Kate normally resides in Australia and had just arrived in London, so it really was a chance meeting of two expat knitters from different sides of the globe who knew each other from Ravelry. Isn’t the knitting world great? (Hi, Kate!)
I’ve saved the best London textile experience for last. I went to the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum! I was absolutely blown away by this event. It was truly remarkable. I don’t usually pay all that much attention to the catwalk, and wouldn’t have called myself a fan, but this exhibit was astonishing. I can see why McQueen was controversial, but there is no denying the absolute genius and craftsmanship in his work. The exhibit is spectacularly curated: it is more a piece of theatre than a museum exhibit. The exhibit is closing on August 2nd. I have just read that the museum will be open around the clock on the final weekend because of the demand for tickets. If you have any chance of getting to see this, don’t miss it!