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Inspirational visit to the Clothworkers’ Centre textile archive, London

03 August 2014 by Editor

New to the Texprint programme for July 2014 was a visit to the Clothworkers' Centre in west London, the most important national and international centre for fashion and textiles.

Based at Blythe House, the newly restored building brings the V&A's extensive textiles and fashion collection together under one roof, providing appropriate storage to enhance the long-term care of the collection, and providing facilities for conservation, storage, research and education. The V&A holds one of the most important collections of textiles and fashion in the world, ranging from archaeological textiles to contemporary street fashion and haute couture.

Guided by lead curator Edwina Ehrman and colleagues, the 24 Texprint designers were shown around the lofty and rather daunting corridors and conservation studios of this extraordinary building, completing the tour with a special presentation of key textile pieces laid out for inspection on the huge tables of the spacious public study room.

Dress worn by HRH Queen Elizabeth II, designed by Sir Norman Hartnell

Silvered leather dress designed by Gareth Pugh

Once the headquarters of the Post Office Savings Bank and originally designed by Sir Henry Tanner between 1899 and 1903, the sensitively designed restoration of this Grade II listed building was carried out by architects Haworth Tompkins Architects.

The corridors are lined with free-standing and rolling archive cabinets which incorporate 500m of hanging space and more than 7,000 drawers. Each of the over 104,000 items meticulously labelled and logged. The upper floor houses the conservation studio, washing and dyeing rooms.

The project to create this state-of-the-art facility was funded by a grant from the Clothworkers’ Foundation (also Foundation Sponsors of Texprint) augmented by additional support from other sources, and forms part of the V&A’s ambitious FuturePlan, which is turning spaces previously used as storage into public galleries.

The Clothworkers' Centre is located at Blythe House, at Olympia in West London, and is open by appointment to visitors and groups who would like to study and research objects in the textiles and fashion study collections. 

 


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