This was fairly small (in one room) but most interesting ;
The exhibition emphasised the Leeds connection with examples from M&S , Hepworth’s (now Next) and Montague Burton . The last two were established here in 1864 and 1900 , pioneering the expansion of bespoke into ready-to-wear via increased mechanization . I think it was Burton’s who ended up employing almost the entire immigrant Jewish community just before WW1 .
The most impressive Leeds connection to me was this :-
The suit is designed by Kathryn Sargent . Leeds-born she was the first woman to become head cutter at a Savile Row firm (Gieves & Hawkes) which post she held before leaving to head her own tailoring house . Again the first woman etc. The shape is very pleasing but the fabric also repays careful inspection . I think you can just see that it is a windowpane check ? Inside each ‘pane’ it is a herringbone weave – but they don’t all go the same way ! It was designed by Leeds-born Fashion/Textile student Cathryn Harrie and handwoven in Yorkshire by Dugdale Bros & Co. (established 1896) . In the same case the sleeve of the ‘process jacket’ is just visible , this was a partly made up garment showing the different layers of fabric and the stitching marking points and sections . All done for the exhibition and hence never to be worn , alas .
Here are some other favourites of mine , a black wool Victorian riding habit and an Alexandra McQueen piece .
2 Paul Neagu : Palpable Sculpture (Henry Moore Institute until November 8 2015)
Gallery 4 at the Institute has a most interesting prequel in ‘Object Lessons’ which displays the 4 trays of an 1850s educational specimen box from the V&A . Unfortunately one can’t see the details clearly and hence the care put in to selecting the specimens .
Object lessons were an intriguing approach in elementary education in 19c England when educational materials were largely the teacher and anything they had or knew . Basing lessons on objects as examples from the natural and industrial worlds would introduce more information than could be had locally and be far more interesting because of the 5 senses engagement . The appropriate leaflet claims sculpture was taught , and displayed like this also . This seems pretty far fetched but is presumably why reproductions of drawings of plaster casts of antique sculpture are on the walls of the gallery – maybe to sneer at ?
Anyhow the frank pleasure of the organised trays carries over in a very straightforward way to the earliest examples of Paul Neagu’s work ie boxes and trays with divisions or cells into which things are put – to then be taken out , re-arranged into different cells …. I got a strong sense of his pleasure in their making and longed to handle them and play with them as was intended . But they pleased me anyway . As did his later work . There are 120 works on display from 1968-1986 , not just sculptures but drawings and documentation of performances . Nevertheless he lived on in London until 2004 so how did his work develop further ? There is no information on this in the exhibition .
I think this is the original frame for or similar to what he used for his Edible Cake-Man event of 1971 . As displayed the cells now contain tesserae in different colours .
This is a very detailed drawing with measurements on it . The position of the body is one he used more than once in performances .
This drawing resembles one of his kinetic pieces on display but seems to be modified into an automatic drawing machine . The kinetic pieces were usually 3-legged as above but varied in the shapes of the ‘legs’ and additions eg one had pendula attached but unfortunately prevented from swinging .
I guess the one on the wall is the 10th ? These are lovely , 2 look as if they might rock but won’t because of the triangular construction as Habib pointed out .
Altogether I loved this exhibition and will go back before it ends . However it is maddening to be told that he wrote a ‘Palpable Art Manifesto’ in 1969 advocating Art for all the senses and that the Institute is celebrating this also by showing ‘Object Lessons’ etc . Of course the one thing it will never be ‘innovative’ or ‘avant-garde’ enough to do is show anything at all which you might be allowed to touch . And there is no evidence of any self-awareness about this either . Nary a rueful joke .
And now to the final exhibition , the 8th British Art Show next door at Leeds City Art Gallery . Don’t bother .