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Published: 26 October 2019

By Andy Ross

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A trip to London

Zandra Rhodes Zandra Rhodes

A short week in London is always good for inspiration and ideas...

Over the past week I was away in the capital to see Andrew and to take in some of the exhibitions that are on at the moment. 

A few hours was spent at the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey where Zandra Rhodes: Fifty Years of Fabulous is currently showing. If you are in town do go and have a look; it is on until 26th January 2020. A well-curated and inspirational showing of some of the exuberant pieces that this designer has made over her career, along with sketchbooks, pages, and a film of the way the studio creates the prints for which Zandra is famous. The whole display made me smile with its cheeky flamboyance. 

Mary Sibande Mary SibandeAlong the way, Mary Sibande is showing work at Somerset House. Mary is a South African artist who uses herself as a model, portraying differing identities of what it is to be an African woman in the post-colonial, post-apartheid decades. This is the first solo exhibition in the UK by the artist, and is a combination of lifesize sculptures and photographs. While the sculptures are hugely powerful, especially to those of us who are familiar with their political and physical context, I found the photographs left me wanting to see the real pieces they portray rather than representations, but it is still something good to catch before the show ends on the 5th January 2020. 

The Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington has a fantastic exhibition of the work of Tim Walker. Tim Walker: Wonderful Things is about the work of this innovative photographer. On until the 8th March 2020, there is plenty of time to go for a few visits and to take time to wander through the imaginary landscapes and scenes created by Tim and his studio. There are two short films outside the main exhibition to find as well. A beautiful, exciting and wonder-filled show and thoroughly recommended. 

Czech Torah scroll binders Czech Torah scroll bindersOne of the real highlights of the trip came about unexpectedly. A few weeks ago I bought a piece of art at auction and, because it was too large to ship, I made an arrangement to collect it direct from the auctioneers in Knightbridge. The house is actually in part of a synagogue and, knowing our love for textiles, the owner asked if we would be interested in seeing some of an important collection. We were very privileged to be shown a small museum of Torah scrolls from Bohemia and Moravia, rescued from destruction during the war and moved to London in 1964. The scrolls however are not the only treasure. The parchment in a Torah is put onto two rods and, to keep the parchment rolled, short lengths of cloth were used to bind the scroll. The Memorial Scrolls Trust has more than 400 of these binders - sometimes called wimples - ranging in age from the 19th Century to the first half of the 20th Century. Many of the binders are embroidered with fanciful designs and playful motifs, or patterns and colours, while some are plain and unadorned. It was a touching visit and one that anyone who values textiles should try to see. You can visit the Museum by contacting the the Memorial Scrolls Trust. 

Footnote: You may remember that I also went to a Primate Drawing class; not everyone's cup of tea, I will admit but certainly mine! Since a few of you have asked to see what we got up to, here is a picture of a chimp that I worked on.  The weekend was really fun and I am full of admiration for the work that Monkey World does in providing safe homes for primates in trouble from across the planet.