A dramatic and striking new exhibition opens at The Bowes Museum’s award winning Fashion & Textile Gallery in October; its only UK venue.

Birds of Paradise – Plumes and Feathers in Fashion is a tribute to the elegance of feathers used in the fashion industry past and present, featuring extravagant catwalk creations from British, Belgian, French and Italian designers including Alexander McQueen, Dries Van Noten, Jean Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler, Balenciaga, Prada and Gucci.

Thanks to their beauty, fragility and value, feathers and plumes had various connotations and were used throughout history in fashionable dress, both as an accessory and as part of the entire silhouette. The exhibition, organised by MoMu - Fashion Museum Antwerp, addresses aspects such as luxury, modernism, femininity, lightness, and also themes of lost innocence and dark romance.

“Whereas in the past, feathers were generally appreciated for their value and refinement, contemporary designers now see them as an expression of freedom and spirituality,” said the Museum’s Keeper of Textiles, Joanna Hashagen, who is curating the show with MoMu curators Karen Van Godtsenhoven and  Wim Mertens.

The exhibition features the ancient profession of plumassier in cooperation with the Parisian Maison Lemarié, one of the last traditional feather studios. This fashion house has specialised in processing plumes, primarily for French haute couture, since 1880. Maison Lemarié is making samples of its beautiful feather work especially for this exhibition.

The fashion for feathers as accessories is also revealed with tantalising displays of fans, hats, including a number by Stephen Jones, and sumptuous feather shoes from Roger Vivier.

 

“It will also demonstrate that thanks to design houses such as Alexander McQueen and Dries Van Noten feathers are firmly back on the fashion agenda and once again featuring strongly on the catwalk,” said Joanna.

Birds of Paradise – Plumes & Feathers in Fashion opens on 25th October 2014 and runs until 19th April 2015.

The exhibitions was initiated by MoMu - Fashion Museum Antwerp.

Detail of marquetry
To commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War, students from Northumbria University have produced an exhibition – Changing Times - inspired by clothing of the era.

The students, from the university’s acclaimed BA Hons Fashion Design and Marketing Programme, explored and researched historical trends from the period, collating images and information from combat design and camouflage, in order to produce a range of designs that reflect the era in a contemporary way.

Colour, surface decoration, texture and silhouette were all considered, whilst students reflected upon the traumas of the trenches alongside a quickly changing Edwardian society at home.

Fabrics have been printed and surface decoration applied to fabric in order to present a selection of men’s and women’s wear inspired by this memorable period in history.

“We are delighted to be continuing our links with Northumbria University and to be showcasing the work of these talented students in our award winning Fashion & Textile Gallery,” said Hannah Jackson, the Museum’s Assistant Curator of Fashion and Textiles.

The Fashion & Textile Gallery will also display items from The Bowes Museum’s collection, worn between 1914 – 1918, with local connections to Teesdale and Newcastle.

The students’ work is on display at The Bowes Museum from 14th June until 31st August 2014.
A competition to redesign the 22-acre garden and grounds at The Bowes Museum has been won by Arabella Lennox-Boyd, who was among three
internationally renowned designers invited to submit plans for the £3m project.

Their brief was to create a garden to complement the Grade 1 listed building and its outstanding collection of fine and decorative arts. The design needed to be exciting for horticulturalists, cater for the wide range of visitors of all ages, and reflect the botanical importance of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty where rare flowers such as the Blue Gentian grow.

The entries were uniformly excellent but Arabella Lennox-Boyd’s winning plans 'dazzled' the judges. The masterplan includes a parterre with shallow canals, a pergola, rose covered pavilions and stepped banks topped by pleached limes to frame the French style Museum. The design also includes a contemporary café, a horticultural therapy centre and a verdant play area with wide-scale trees, shrubs and herbaceous planting to provide horticultural interest throughout the year.

Peter Millican, a Trustee of The Bowes Museum and head of the judging panel, said: “I am extremely excited about the creation of a wonderful new garden. The Arabella Lennox-Boyd design is not only stunning but offers something for everyone and will continue to develop over the years, as all good gardens should. Her design complements both the Museum and the vision of its founders John and Joséphine Bowes.”

The other judges echoed his enthusiasm. Journalist and author, Christopher Stocks said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for The Bowes Museum to really raise its game, not only for its extraordinary building and remarkable collections, but for its gardens too. This will make it a first among British museums and is a brilliant way of encouraging other galleries to be more ambitious about their settings and surroundings.”

Clare Foster, Garden Editor, House & Garden magazine added: “With international garden design on the ascendant, it seems the time is right for such an exciting project and the Museum's stunning and unusual architecture deserves an equally striking landscape to complement it.”

A fascinating display on Victorian hunting, horse breeding and racing, assembled by volunteers from the Archive and Library, has opened at The Bowes Museum

The hunting section marks the 150th anniversary of the deaths of Robert Smith Surtees, the hunting novelist, and his illustrator, John Leech.  Surtees was a lawyer and Durham squire whose rough, tough comic novels set in the world of crooked horse dealers, rascally servants, and city girls on the search for moneyed country bumpkins were enormously popular with the Victorian public.  They include such memorable titles as Jorrocks’s Jaunts and Jollities and Mr Sponge’s Sporting Tour.  Their success was at least as much owing to the wonderful illustrations – many of them in colour – by John Leech as to the stories themselves. Leech was famous as a frequent contributor of comic scenes of everyday life and political cartoons to Punch, but also illustrated Dickens and many other writers of the day.

The rest of the exhibition is devoted to the Museum’s founder John Bowes and his passion for the turf.  His Streatlam Stud produced many famous horses, including four Derby winners.  One of them, West Australian, only raced three times in a single year and won each time.  He thus became the first horse ever to win the Triple Crown (Guineas, Derby and St Leger). 

Bowes was a well-known figure in racing circles, both in England and France, where he was a leading member of the Jockey Club.  It was not all plain sailing, however! – his name was linked with a famous betting scandal, the story of which will be told in the display.

The display is in the John and Joséphine Galleries, and will run for a year. Entry is included in the admission cost to the Museum; accompanied children under 16 admitted free.

The Bowes Museum is delighted to announce a major boost to its award winning Fashion & Textile Gallery, thanks to the support of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

The grant of £180,693 will allow the Museum to employ an Assistant Keeper of Fashion and Textiles, plus a Textiles Conservator, both of whom will play a vital role in expanding the curatorial and conservation work of the gallery.

Working alongside Joanna Hashagen, the Museum’s Keeper of Fashion & Textiles, the pair will assist in staging iconic exhibitions - for which the gallery has earned a glowing reputation – as well as conducting research and contributing to the essential management of the existing collection and any future acquisitions.

They will play significant roles in the care of items, including the internationally important Blackborne Lace Collection - donated to the Museum in 2006 by the descendants of Anthony and Arthur Blackborne, who were master lace dealers in 19th century London. A stunning lace collar from this collection, reputed to have belonged to King Charles I, was among eight items of lace loaned for the In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion exhibition at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, earlier this year, viewed by over 134,000 visitors.

“This was particularly pleasing, as The Queen’s Gallery is known as the place where the Royal Collection is displayed; they do not normally borrow from other collections,” said Mrs Hashagen. 

Working closely together, the post-holders will select and prioritise items for display in the Fashion & Textile Gallery, taking into account historical importance while weighing up conservation needs. This will give greater access to parts of the collection which have never before been on show to the public. They’ll also work towards rotating the displays, both for the benefit of visitors and for conservation reasons. In addition, opportunities will be created for teaching and research, as well as the offering of support to other regional museums without such provision.

“In establishing these posts the Museum, with this generous support from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, is investing in the future of a gallery which since its opening in 2010 has become the leading one of its type in the UK,” Mrs Hashagen added. 

The gallery - which represents the wide range of the collection, including dress, European silks, tapestries, embroidery, lace and quilts, housed in glass cases which can be viewed from all sides – is both spectacular, using the latest display ideas and materials, and serious, by ultimately providing easy access to study the collections.

The displays illustrate the use of textiles in fashionable dress and historic design from the 16th to the late 20th Century.

End

A super new exhibition, coupled with a wealth of family oriented workshops, makes for a fun packed summer at The Bowes Museum.

Victorian Childhood, which runs until 7th September, depicts what life was like for children in the Victorian era. Objects enable visitors to compare the differing lifestyles of rich and poor children through key themes: what they wore, school, work, play and home life. The exhibition is interactive and includes costumes, craft activities and games, and best of all it’s free for accompanied children under 16!

A varied programme of workshops and family fun days runs throughout the school holidays, starting with Making Music* from 22nd – 25th July, featuring a different instrument each day. Booking is required on 01833 690606. 

The Toys from the Past!  Family Fun Day on 29th July is a drop in day which includes storytelling from the ever popular Adam Bushnell, making a simple jack-in-the-box, decorating a spinning top and creating  a cup and ball game.  

Workshops* from 30th July – 1st August involve making a felt Teddy Bear to take home. Sessions are morning and afternoon and must be booked in advance. Separate Robots workshops* are also taking place on these dates, with a chance to try a variety of robot-themed crafts. Booking is also essential for these sessions. 

Printing for Families, on 4th August, takes a look at the current David Hockney exhibition before creating a simple block print with artist Vicky Holbrough in this drop in workshop, while Miner Banners! the following day, also drop in, explores the current Shafts of Light exhibition before making
a banner like those of the miners in the paintings. 

Weaving Wonders* is the title of fun craft workshop sessions on 7th and 8th August, followed by Delightful Dollies* sessions on 12th August and Moving Toys* on 14th and 15th August, with booking required.       

Treasures of the World* – 18th, 20th, 21st & 22nd August – involves trying craft activities linked to different countries around the globe. Each date relates to a different country – Italy, Holland, France and Greece. Again, booking is required.

A drop in family fun day on 19th August centres on Victorians, with writing practise using pen and ink and slates, making peg dolls, creating a shadow puppet, proddy mat making and a themed trail around the Museum.

Silk Painting* workshops on 26th and 27th August offer morning and afternoon sessions, giving the opportunity to create a silk painting inspired
by the Museum collection, while Collagraph Printing* rounds off the holidays with sessions on 28th and 29th August devoted to learning the delights of this technique. Booking is required for all these sessions, and children must be aged 7 and over to participate inthe latter. 

Drop in workshop sessions are free for children, who must be accompanied by an adult for whom normal admission applies. 

Workshops marked with an * are charged at various rates for children, who must be accompanied by an adult for whom there is no charge for
the event. The workshops have different timings so contact the Museum or check our website for full details.

Virtual champagne corks are popping at The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle to celebrate a successful fundraising campaign which saw a staggering £21,000 raised in just 60 nail-biting days.

The campaign, which finished at midnight on Friday 15th August, is part of the growing trend of crowdfunding, which involves pooling individual online pledges made by people keen to offer financial support to projects they have taken a shine to.

The project was led by the Museum’s Digital Communications and Fundraising Officer, Alison Nicholson, using the new crowdfunding platform, Art Happens. The Art Fund were keen for The Bowes Museum to be one of the first museums involved with the crowdfunding platform, following a hugely successful Kickstarter project by the Museum earlier this year to install a Gavin Turk neon on the front of the Museum.

Art Happens was created to help UK museums raise money for new, small-scale, achievable and highly creative projects.  Unlike other crowdfunding platforms, every penny raised will go directly to the projects. The Art Fund will not be charging fees like many other platforms, and the donations will be eligible for Gift Aid. 

The Bowes Museum’s successful digital campaign – which was supported by an internal campaign involving an inspirational video and dynamic countdown in reception - will allow the Museum to conserve and sympathetically redisplay a 15th century Passion Altarpiece, revealing the hidden secrets on its reverse. It is made up of 12 oil-on-panel paintings by Master of the View of St Gudule, and intricate wooden carvings by the Brussels Sculptors’ Guild, forming a sequence that tells of the arrest, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

“Being invited to take part in the first round of projects on Art Happens was a great opportunity to raise funds for our conservation project and to reach new audiences and supporters,” said Mrs Nicholson. “It's been an exhilarating experience and I’d like to thank all those who supported this project by helping me to reach the target to return our Flemish altarpiece to its former glory. The Art Fund has been a brilliant source of help and support and its new platform will be a huge benefit to those museums and galleries who use it to fundraise in the future.”

Restorer Rupert McBain, who holds a guild mark from the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers, designed a limited edition reward, inspired by the altarpiece, for those who pledged £100 to the campaign. He will now work on the conservation of the altarpiece, building a new frame to allow the Museum to reveal the Renaissance art on the reverse and reveal the mallet marks, the guild mark of the Brussel Sculptors’ Guild.

Lesley Taylor MBE, who is Durham and Cleveland Art Fund Chair and Art Fund Chair for the North, was an ambassador for the campaign, cultivating donations from regional members and sharing the message nationally. She said: “As a former Trustee of The Bowes Museum and a committed Art Fund volunteer, I would like to say what a privilege it has been to be involved with this Art Happens crowdfunding project. It has been a huge learning curve for us all, especially me, and I am so pleased to have been able to support Alison Nicholson who has taken the lead on this project with such passion and enthusiasm. It has been nerve-wracking at times but as the momentum has increased so has the excitement. The Bowes Museum project is the first to complete its allotted time of 60 days and it is fantastic to reach the target. We plan to have an unveiling at Easter by the Bishop of Durham to celebrate this enormous achievement.”

 

Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, said: “Huge thanks to everyone whose donations and support have seen the first project successfully funded, making Art Happen.  The combination of contributions at all levels has meant not only that The Bowes Museum can return one of the finest pieces in its collection to its former glory, but also that a new dialogue between visitor and museum has been forged.  I shall be excited to hear how the restoration project on the Passion Altarpiece unfolds, revealing its hidden treasure for all to see, and to enjoy".

The Bowes Museum continues to advance its burgeoning contemporary exhibition programme with the opening of Julian Opie: Collected Works.

 

One of the UK’s leading contemporary artists, Opie exploded onto the British art scene in the 1980s; his easily recognisable style characterised by minimalist line portraits and animated walking figures.

 

Throughout his own prolific career Opie has amassed art from the past including 17th and 18th century British portraiture by artists such as Joshua Reynolds and George Romney, together with Egyptian sculpture from the ancient world. This exhibition showcases his own works alongside pieces from his private collection, examining the relationship between the two.

 

Such juxtaposition is revealing in many ways, in particular throwing light on the inspiration for Opie’s practise as an artist, but also in revealing the complexity within the nature of portraiture: what it means, how it is achieved and how it’s changed throughout the history of art.

 

Works in a variety of media will be on display including paintings, prints, LEDs and video as well as more recent experiments in mosaic and sculpture, shown together with pieces ranging from an ancient Egyptian funerary mask to an arresting ‘warts and all’ Houdon bust of 18th century composer Cristoph Gluck complete with smallpox scarring.

 

Opie has exhibited extensively around the world during the past 30 years and now for the first time we have an opportunity to see his work within the context of his collection, offering a fascinating insight into his oeuvre and his collecting instinct. His work also forms part of the permanent collections of the National Portrait Gallery and the Tate in London, and New York’s Museum of Modern Art, MoMa. He has also completed public commissions in major cities around the globe.

 

The exhibition has been organised by the Holburne Museum.

The vision of securing County Durham’s place as an internationally renowned centre for Spanish art has moved a step closer with the news that three of the region’s leading heritage and educational bodies are to join forces with two of the world’s top galleries for a unique series of public exhibitions and lectures.

Auckland Castle, The Bowes Museum and Durham University will this autumn link-up with London’s National Gallery and Madrid’s Museo del Prado.

The pioneering move will see many of the world’s top experts in Spanish Golden Age art gather in County Durham in October for a major three-day conference to mark the bicentenary of the arrival of Diego Velázquez’s Rokeby Venus in Teesdale.

This will coincide with important newly discovered and restored works of Golden Age Spanish art going on public display for the first time at The Bowes Museum and Auckland Castle alongside significant loans from the National Gallery and Museo del Prado.

Both the exhibitions and symposium are part of a wider, long-term aspiration shared by Durham University, The Bowes Museum and Auckland Castle and backed by the National Gallery and Museo del Prado, to establish County Durham as a key international academic and tourist destination focused around the area’s rich concentration of Spanish art.

The Bowes Museum, Durham University and Auckland Castle between them house the biggest pool of Golden Age Spanish art outside London.

The ambitious plan will give a much needed boost to the county’s economy as well as advance Durham’s cultural profile on the world stage and, in the words of Lord Jacob Rothschild, create “a small part of North East England which is part of Spain.”

It will also mark the beginning of a long and beneficial partnership between all the institutions.

Adrian Jenkins, Director of The Bowes Museum, said: “This joint venture between The Bowes Museum, Auckland Castle and Durham University marks the start of a special and important relationship, both for the venues involved and for County Durham.

“Whilst the symposium is the catalyst, the intention is that we will continue working closely together long term to establish something truly unique, which will result in the county proclaimed internationally as a hub for the examination and understanding of Spanish art.”

Dr Chris Ferguson, Auckland Castle’s head curator, added: “This conference, and the exhibitions at Auckland Castle and The Bowes Museum, are the beginning of our exciting project to make Spanish art accessible to the people of the North East and beyond.

“Bringing the foremost international scholars to County Durham will help us in our quest to research and understand some of the most exceptional collections of art in the United Kingdom.”

Durham University’s coordinator of Spanish art research, Dr Andy Beresford, said: “This important ongoing partnership with Auckland Castle and The Bowes Museum has provided members of Durham University’s Centre for Visual Arts and Cultures with an exciting and novel opportunity for interdisciplinary engagement, the development of a range of collaborative research synergies, and the potential to raise the profile of Spanish art in County Durham and of the cultural richness of the North East more broadly.

“We are very much looking forward to a long and fruitful relationship and to establishing an internationally renowned centre for the study of Spanish art in Britain.”

The Bowes Museum boasts 76 works’ by Spanish artists and to this day remains the best venue in the UK to explore the genre after the National Gallery.

Auckland Castle is home to the internationally important cycle of paintings, Jacob and his 12 Sons, by the 17th century Spanish master Francisco de Zurbarán, which have hung in a specially built gallery at the former home of the Bishops of Durham for 250 years.

And Jonathan Ruffer, Chairman of the Auckland Castle Trust, has the honour of being the UK’s only International Patron of the Fundación Amigos del Museo del Prado (Friends of the Prado Museum Charity).

Ushaw College also owns many important works of Spanish art, as do Durham Castle and Durham Cathedral.

The Paintings of the Spanish Golden Age: The Collections of County Durham symposium to be held between October 23-25, will highlight these outstanding assemblages.

Among the esteemed speakers helping place the collections in their historical, artistic and cultural context will be Gabriele Finaldi, Associate Director of Curator and Research, at the Museo del Prado; Letizia Treves, Curator of Italian and Spanish Paintings 1600-1800, at the National Gallery, and celebrated art dealer Anthony Mould.

Four public lectures – two at Auckland Castle and two at The Bowes Museum – delivered by leading academics, will also be held between November and February, to broaden the symposium’s audience and enhance a wider understanding of Spanish art.

Running parallel to the main convention, which is expected to attract influential delegates and students of Spanish art to the lectures at Auckland Castle and The Bowes Museum, will be the two public exhibitions. 

At Auckland Castle the Zurbarán’s will be shown alongside a cycle of 17th century Sevillian paintings of the Apostles brought to Durham Cathedral in 1753 and rediscovered in 2014 after going missing for 40 years.

Also featured will be selected works of Spanish art from Ushaw College’s collection which will be on public display for the first time.

The Bowes Museum, meanwhile, will exhibit six pieces focusing on the artist Francisco Pacheco’s The Last Communion of Saint Raymond Nonnatus, which will be displayed alongside significant loaned works including Zurbarán’s The Martyrdom of Saint James and Juan van der Hamen y León’s Still Life with Artichokes, Flowers and Glass Vessels from the Museo del Prado.

Zurbarán’s Saint Francis in Meditation and Juan de Valdés Leal’s The Immaculate Conception with Two Donors from the National Gallery, will also feature.

A dramatic and striking new exhibition opens at The Bowes Museum’s award winning Fashion & Textile Gallery in October; its only UK venue.

 

Birds of Paradise – Plumes and Feathers in Fashion is a tribute to the elegance of feathers used in the fashion industry past and present, featuring extravagant catwalk creations from British, Belgian, French and Italian designers including Alexander McQueen, Dries Van Noten, Jean Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler, Balenciaga, Prada and Gucci.

 

Thanks to their beauty, fragility and value, feathers and plumes had various connotations and were used throughout history in fashionable dress, both as an accessory and as part of the entire silhouette. The exhibition, organised by MoMu - Fashion Museum Antwerp, addresses aspects such as luxury, modernism, femininity, lightness, and also themes of lost innocence and dark romance.

 

“Whereas in the past, feathers were generally appreciated for their value and refinement, contemporary designers now see them as an expression of freedom and spirituality,” said the Museum’s Keeper of Textiles, Joanna Hashagen, who is curating the show with MoMu curators Karen Van Godtsenhoven and  Wim Mertens.

 

The exhibition features the ancient profession of plumassier in cooperation with the Parisian Maison Lemarié, one of the last traditional feather studios. This fashion house has specialised in processing plumes, primarily for French haute couture, since 1880. Maison Lemarié is making samples of its beautiful feather work especially for this exhibition.

The fashion for feathers as accessories is also revealed with tantalising displays of fans, hats, including a number by Stephen Jones, and sumptuous feather shoes from Roger Vivier.

“It will also demonstrate that thanks to design houses such as Alexander McQueen and Dries Van Noten feathers are firmly back on the fashion agenda and once again featuring strongly on the catwalk,” said Joanna.

 

Birds of Paradise – Plumes & Feathers in Fashion opens on 25th October 2014 and runs until 19th April 2015.

 

The exhibition was initiated by MoMu – Fashion Museum Antwerp.