For the next part of my course I have to go to my local archive and choose three Items so I can study them, find out the history, how it was made, who made them etc.
I was very pleasantly surprised when I researched and found out that Newbury, my nearest town had an archive full of textiles and other treasures.
The old Chapel textiles center is a voluntary community project providing space for needlework, textiles courses, workshops, exhibitions and home to the national needlework archive. The chapel advertises itself to offer a great work space, educational space, as well as housing a growing collection of historical needle craft items and database. They say that they aim to include all areas of the community in education and promotion of all aspects of needle craft and textile art.
So off I went with a friend very excited and full of hope. When we got there we were greeted by a lady who explained that there was an entry charge so I paid the entry fee and off we went. As we went in she kept apologising for the “mess” . I told her what I needed and from the beginning I was met with you can’t do this and we can’t do that, can’t take pictures, can’t touch that you need to pay for that. I kept asking if I could see an item which was old and full of history? Maybe an embroidery? Or a patch work? Or an item of clothing, everything was to much or tell me what you want and I will take it out but no mention of an inventory.
I felt that I was being patronised and almost not welcome, I couldn’t and still don’t understand why I paid £5 entry fee. Eventually after the lady hearing myself and my friend complain she offered to bring out a quilt made by different women so I thought “great I am getting somewhere” honestly! It was something that a five year old could of done better. I don’t even know why they would archive that. Eventually she told me she would bring out a piece of lace… So again I got very exited and in my head I thought I was going to see an old piece of lace but…what she bought to me after dropping on the floor was something that wasn’t old and didn’t have any history, it was a piece of unfinished modern lace.
I was getting so frustrated that I thought I would make an appointment for Thursday and maybe then she could pull out what I needed and I could sit down with a fresh mind but again I was met with a “no don’t come on thursday we are short staffed”. So Monday they don’t open Tuesdays they are in a mess and Thursdays they are short staffed.
Wow! That was my experience at my local archive it seems to me that they weren’t open to include all areas of education and all of the community. In my experience If I wasn’t older than sixty I wasn’t really welcome. It’s a good job that I am determined and stubborn but I have to say It’s no wonder that young people today think that textiles is boring and for old lady’s, if that’s what is portrayed in our local community.
So I give up for now in Newbury as my time is of the essence and I am taking myself to London’s textile museum I’m sure I won’t have any problems choosing three items there. Textiles and fashion museum here I come!