Farmiloe archive update – paper conservators at work
Ruth Stevens and Ian Watson from the Sussex Conservation Consortium spent two days in May assessing the Farmiloe business archive as a whole in order to work out what hands-on restoration might be required and to advise on the best ways to look after the collection longterm. They also took a very close look at the oldest manuscripts and documents in the deeds boxes, one of which dates to the late 17th century. Happily, only one item, a bundle of papers about the 1937 extension in St John Street, Camberwell had to be quarantined. The building was demolished recently so it was important for these papers to be saved even though they had got very wet at some stage and there is a danger of active mould.
Visit to West Berkshire
There is only so much that can be achieved by a desktop study so I was very pleased to be able to travel to Newbury in April to meet Curator Janine Fox and other members of museum staff in person and to take a private tour of the museum and a good look at the services' two storage buildings. Having completed my audit of them both, I was then able to complete my report on future storage options for the service.
New Year, New Project
Sort & Survive have been commissioned to research and write a storage options report for West Berkshire Museum. Established in 1904, the museum is housed in two of the most historic buildings in Newbury. The work will have to be done remotely to start with but once the health emergency lockdown is eased it will be possible to see the buildings and meet the staff at first hand.
London Open House at Hampstead Parish Church
Sue of Sort & Survive worked with a small team to create an exhibition of archive materials tracing the history of the site and the building (from its erection in the 1740s to the rebuilding in the 1840s and 1870s) displayed in the Church. In addition, the first stained glass window by Arts and Crafts artist Joan Fulleylove, produced to commemorate a parishioner who died in the First World War, was on view. It is not normally visible as it is located in the Clergy Vestry. There were half a dozen or so stewards to welcome the 75 visitors and answer their questions. There were also excellent home made cakes, tea and coffee on sale in aid of Traidcraft.
Exciting new archiving project in Hampshire
I have just started work on a business archive from a building supplies company, now specialising in bathroom fittings and based in Surrey, but originally situated in Clerkenwell, Westminster and Limehouse in London. It is still a family-run firm with the current Managing Director being from the sixth generation. The collections consist of some office equipment such as this office postbox and platform weighing scales and some furniture including a number of Edwardian swivelling cane-seated typist's chairs. There are also some portraits of family members and photographs dating from the Victorian era. But most of my work will consist of sorting through a very large quantity of ledgers (at least 50) and other paperwork (some 40 boxes or bags). I have examined the collection so the next step is to come up with some recommendations as to how it could be catalogued, stored and/or displayed in the future. It is very likely that I will discard or re-home some material such as duplicates or day-to-day financial records such as petty cash receipts that are too detailed for longterm historical interest. Of course the client will make the final decision in every case.
Launch of a new exhibition for Women’s Pioneer Housing
Women's Pioneer Housing launched a new exhibition, 'Pioneering Courage: Housing and the Working Woman 1919-1939' at Mary Smith Court, a sheltered housing scheme in Earl's Court, on Monday 8th March. Over 50 residents, staff and special guests attended the private view held to mark International Women's Day. Four volunteer researchers and several WPH staff worked together to write and design the display. It was to tour to the London Metropolitan Archives and several London libraries but the health emergency has meant that this has been postponed. However, work has started to add the exhibition content and additional research to the Women's Pioneer website.
Founders’ Day 2019
In 2019, Women's Pioneer Housing celebrated Founders' Day on 1st October 2019. The venue was The Tabernacle in Notting Hill. The afternoon started with talks from Denise Fowler, the CEO, and some Board members and continued with presentations on the history of Women's Pioneer Housing from three of the volunteer researchers who have been using WPH records and family history websites to piece together the story of WPH, its staff and residents. The evening finished with refreshments and dancing to the steel pans of local band Mangrove.
A Solution for Display of Family Photographs
My client wanted to reclaim his sideboard for serving food. I reframed the photographs where necessary to ensure they were in matching, good quality frames. We managed to purchase two ladder shelving units from Futon on sale at £40 and £50 each. They are white-painted wood but natural wood finishes are also available. They required self-assembly but the result is very worthwhile and this solution is far more flexible than wall mounting.
Women’s Pioneer Housing Archives
The National Lottery funded Women's Pioneer Housing Heritage Project has allowed the WPH archive to be deposited at London Metropolitan Archives. Sally Bevan has catalogued the records (dating back to the 1920s) plans and photographs so they can be made available to the public. A number of the older records and architectural plans have been digitised and some will eventually be available on the WPH website.
London History Fair
Promoting the Women's Pioneer Housing history project at London Metropolitan Archives in Clerkenwell on 31 May 2019.
Paintings all sold at auction
Four early to mid 20th century paintings, two by Turkish artist Abidin Dino (1913 – 1993), were sold at the Design at Home auction at The Pure Evil Gallery, London. The client was very pleased with the sales, especially as the Dino pictures are going home to Turkey.
Commonwealth Hostels Ltd plate returned to Australia
The very last transfer from Newham Heritage! Dr Moya Fadzean, Senior Curator, Museums Victoria was delighted to receive this plate at the Immigration Museum in Melbourne. Anyone got a matching cup or mug?
‘Pioneering Courage: Housing and the Working Woman 1919 – 1939’
Sue Kirby has just started work in White City for the Housing Association, Women’s Pioneer Housing Ltd. It was established by women who had campaigned for votes for women. Sue is Project Lead for the heritage aspects of its centenary celebrations.
Women’s Pioneer Housing Ltd has now launched a short introductory film covering its early history and featuring a number of research volunteers and residents. The film can be viewed on the Women’s Pioneer Ltd website www.womenspioneer.co.uk and on Royal Holloway College’s online learning resource on Citizenship.
Mid-Century Paintings sent to Auction
Five interesting paintings acquired by the parents of one of my clients are to go to auction in London. Two of them, goache on paper, were bought in Paris from the Turkish artist Abidin Dino. The others are oils on canvas and striking abstracts, one showing the influence of Kandinsky or Miro probably also from artists based in Paris.
Fancy Dress Costumes Donated to the Museum of London
Sort & Survive recently transferred three fancy dress costumes to the Museum of London. They belonged to Phyllis Champion-Jones and her sister Joan. The Little Dutch Girl, female Harlequin and Pierrot costumes were made by their mother in the 1920s and 1930s and are complete with headresses although missing the footwear. The family lived in Kilburn but Phyllis got the bus every day to work at the Rowley Gallery in Kensington Church Street. Every Christmas the company held a fancy dress ball. There are a number of photographs of these parties also donated to the museum.
African and Chinese artefacts
A number of items from various places worldwide belonging to a private client were identified with the help of appropriate experts in these fields.
The Collections Relocation Successfully Concluded
A staff of seven paid curators and ten part-time volunteers spent a long period of sorting, cataloguing and transferring items. The project concluded with an intensive period of packing, boxing, barcoding and supervising removal starting in June and ending on 29th September 2017.
Working with museum collections in East London
The first couple of months involved liaising with other museums that have undertaken similar projects, working out a schedule of work and appointing paid staff and volunteers. There has been quite a lot of work involved in ensuring that the building is suitable for the work, including resolving connectivity and internet access issues. The specialised database had to be adapted for the major inventory work too.
Let cataloguing commence!
The textile and dress collections have been the first priority as they need to be catalogued and properly packed prior to going off for freezing, a process which will ensure any insect infestation is neutralised. This work has been ably co-ordinated by Deb, a qualified conservator. Meanwhile my colleague Ed has had a good sort of the archaeology collections. Some of the non-local material will be transferred to more appropriate museums.
I have been putting a collection of Wedgwood Jasperware on sale on behalf of an elderly lady who has moved to a nursing home. Some has gone to private buyers, some to museums.
APDO Annual Conference
Time for the annual conference of the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers (APDO), a very supportive and well organised(!) body. This year I particularly appreciated Carl Honore’s keynote speech on the Slow Movement. Juliet Landau-Pope also gave an informative seminar on working with clients from diverse backgrounds.
VHS Tape Transfer
Transfer of some VHS tapes of films relating to Black British history and film-making to a London-based academic.
Sight & Sound
Found a new home for a run of the UK’s film journal of record, Sight & Sound, 1977–2015.
National Organising Week
Monday 7 November - Friday 13 November was National Organising Week.
Women and the First World War
Helped with the Art Fair, raising funds for Keats Community Library in Hampstead. I also delivered a lecture on Women and the First World War to students from Fordham University in New York who were based in London for the semester.
I have managed to realise over £400 selling mid-20th century film posters for a client. I have arranged a small selection of the ones he did not want to sell on the walls of the entrance hall of his home.
Cellarette and Brass
A successful month selling some antique furniture for a client including a Regency mahogany sarcophagus-style cellarette used in the dining room to keep wines chilled, an early twentieth century library ladder used in an Earls Court bookshop until about 1980 and a portable Bedouin brass table on an ingenious folding wooden stand.
I have been working in Chelsea down by the river, an area connected with artists for over 100 years. Here is Tite Street where John Singer Sargent had his studio from 1885. Oscar Wilde was also a resident there.
Long Play Albums
The week got off to a good start with the sale of a collection of 1960s and 1970s long playing albums to Nick Brown who has a website and who also operates from a shop in Cecil Court in London’s West End.