Wednesday 7 May 2014

Not an ordinary tour

Two weeks ago I had the amazing opportunity to go on a guided tour to Clothworkers'
Centre at the V&A. To be precise Blythe house, which is used for a study and conservation of textiles and fashion. 

Blythe house is divided into sections, each museum (V&A, Science and British) occupies a part of the
building for storage and study purposes. The V&A uses Blythe house for its vast tapestry and textile collection, over 104.000 items to be precise. Not everything can be exhibited at the same time and storing fragile items in an appropriate area is vital to enhance the long-term care of the collection.

Blythe house was once used as the headquarters of post office saving bank, reminders of which can be clearly seen all around the building. The blue walkway which you can see in the pic below was used only by female while the court yard only by male workers, so they could not be led into temptation. As luck would have it, the day I was there the courtyard was being prepped for filming, not sure which film but the prop looks rather interesting. 

The tour was led by the lead curator Edwina Ehrman and started at the very modern conservation studios. Gorgeous articles were being restored for separate exhibitions.

 Stunning collection of newly restored shoes.

Exquisite piece of Asian embroidery being cleaned. Painstaking and very slow task which will take the next 6 months. You can instantly see the part that has been already clean, it's the very bright patch at the back.

This beautiful dress has not been worked on as the curators are still figuring out the best way to do it. the dress is very fragile and ripped in few places, the netting used to be white.

                The very impressive storage places where all types of textile, fashion and tapestry are kept.

                                Extraordinary dress made out of rubber, stunning but very heavy.

                                                               Very interesting waistcoats.

This dress was worn by young Queen Elisabeth II on her first official visit to France. The stunning embroidery depicts harvest.

Clothworkers’centre instantly evokes calmness and serenity, it is very clear to see why it is such a perfect place to study.

Newly restored fabric library.

The V&A owns the largest collection of rare fabrics which are often loaned out to other museums, some of them are permanently framed and others are framed on request.

The reception of Blythe House is the home to the most impressive collection of cartoon memorabilia, which is just epic!!

Just a small part of the collection.

Blythe House is open for visits by appointments only, there are tours organised as well, for more information just go to their website:
It is trully worth a visit!

Anna x