I swooped down on London yesterday ready to pick it’s bones of a little culture! In fact, at the risk of mixing my metaphor’s, I was more like a heat seeking missile! Seven hours to see three exhibitions on two sides of the river. And because it cost me £50 squid to get there, I had to make it count.

First up was The Fashion and Textile Museum, which is exhibiting Very Sanderson – 150 years of English decoration. It documents the course of Sanderson’s growth beginning in 1860 and display’s archive papers, recent vintage reworkings currently available, old marketing materials and posters and really cute little room set-ups.

The DVD  show has footage of the textile artist at work re-designing and re-colouring one of the original designs and talking about what kind of changes they make for today’s market.

(Re-work on the left, original on the right – orange wallpaper – they were a crazy bunch back then!)

This is Kenneth Truman who was chief designer for years. I love this photograph and find it fascinating to see them at work like this. The original was actually almost perfect first time – no photocopying, scanning and editing mistakes. These people were super skilled. It really was an art in the truest tense of the word.

Then after a short walk on a beautifully sunny warm day I arrived at The Imperial War Museum for The Ministry of Food exhibition. Lots of my photo’s were duffers because it was quite dim in the exhibition and I blurred them. But there were loads of jolly vintage posters encouraging “Spades Not Ships” or “Dig For Victory Now” and “Help Win The War On The Kitchen Front”. The whole nation was encouraged to grow food in whatever way and where ever they could – on a polo field, an Anderson shelter roof or your front garden. In 1943 there were nearly 2 million allotments! Think of what we could do to save air miles if we really had to!

I didn’t realise that so many Seamen lost their lives bringing food and supplies into England – 30,000 dead and 10,000 to Prisoner of war camps. It puts the grow your own propaganda into context.

I went around the exhibition twice. The first time I had on my rose-tinted glasses for the nostalgia of the past where life  looked simpler and more wholesome. There seemed to be stronger family life and a camaraderie that forged closer communities.

A Corner of Merton – Harry Bush 1940

On the second viewing I could see how much everyone suffered and went without – it wasn’t fun. People were bored of eating potatoes and never having onions to flavour things and orange juice to drink. They came home too tired to cook from a day working in the fields, don’t we all moan about a hard day and order a takeaway. It made me contemplate just how much I take for granted and how we live in an age that is currently valuing anything ‘vintage’ or ‘retro’ but only the parts that look good. It’s no wonder my parents are bemused by excitement on scoring vintage china or a crochet blanket; they looked forward to a new age of machine-made plenty.

Well that has turned into an epic post!! I won’t tell you how long it took me to upload all the photo’s and find something to say!! Hope you enjoyed it – I think I’m beginning to sound my age!

I shall save my last destination for a post all of it’s own tomorrow.

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