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Published: 02 May 2020

By Andy Ross

The Olive Matthews Collection

The collection was begun by Olive Matthews when she was young. Having started collecting furniture which proved too bulky and difficult to store, Olive turned to costume and ammassed a considerable collection, now on display in Chertsey museum.

In my own Shetland tweed research, I came across what is termed "material culture" by academics. This term refers to the things we utlise which can be used to inform researchers about the ways in which we live. As an example, tweed for me is not simply a cloth made in the Scotland but carries with it important signals about wealth, work, position in society , and so on. It also contains information about landscape, climate change. land-use, crofting practices, manufacture... It seems that Olive was an enthusiastic "material culturalist", if such a term exists! For her generation, the old techniques and skills were felt to be disappearing. Doesn't that sound familiar?

Have a look the collection of costumes here.  And thank you to our reader, Teresa, who sent this link in. 

Picture on this page of Olive Matthews with some of her collection. Courtsey of Olive Matthews Trust