Thursday, 28 October 2010
Be a November Member and WIN!
Another month ticks over and we have another member promotion delivering free goodies! The first twenty people to take out a membership in November will receive a FREE copy of The Paper Garden: Mrs Delany begins her life's work at 72
It’s a rollicking good read and tells the Mary Granville Pendarves Delany (1700–1788) who picked up the scissors and ran with it at the at the ripe old age of 72 to create a whole new artform of mixed media collage.
Here's our exclusive interview with the author of The Paper Garden, Molly Peacock.
How did you come across the story of Mary Granville Pendarves Delany?
It's a long journey. I first saw her work in 1986 at the Morgan Library in New York City, and I swooned over it, but I couldn't afford the pricey imported book that came with it (I was a seventh grade teacher at a private Quaker school in New York), so I went off into my life. Then, in 2003, I saw them again. My husband and I had just been guest lecturers at Oxford, and we came into London briefly on our way back to North America, stopping at the British Museum. My husband had to make a phone call, so I wandered into the gift shop. It was a Looooooong phone call, so I made my way through the whole shop, and on the last table at the very end was the book I couldn't afford seventeen years earlier. Now I could afford it! I bought it and we left and got on a plane. As I read it and looked at the amazing images I reconnected. The book was by Mrs. Delany's great-great-great-great-great-great niece, Ruth Hayden. I didn't realize at the time that Delany's collages were right there in the Museum. It was only when I went back to London the following year that I saw them in person.
In what ways did she create a template for contemporary craft practices?
Mrs. Delany was ALWAYS busy with her hands. She believed with her whole heart that keeping occupied with the hands soothes the mind. She played the harpsichord, she designed embroidery patterns and sewed, she did shellwork (collecting shells and plastering them into patterns on ceilings, lintels, frames and mirrors), she did japanning (shellacking boxes to imitate Asian lacquerware), she designed her own clothes, and she famously, at 72, began her miraculous cut-paper floral collages on dramatic black backgrounds. Mrs. Delany believing in attempting, in plunging in, even when the goal was overwhelming. She also did all of these crafts WITH HER FRIENDS. This wasn't a solo activity for her. It was communal. This sets the template for us, for attempting crafts even without experience, and for doing it in company. For her it was fun. And it can be fun for us, too.
If you were going to take this book on a holiday where would you go?
I'd go from North America to Australia and New Zealand, of course! I'd take it anywhere there was a garden or a flower to look at.
For your chance to win a copy, make sure you take out a membership!