It was a specifically uninspiring day weather-wise on Friday in London. And since I’ve started my new job, I’ve been more than usually under the kosh from a work-load point of view. I had earlier in the week, in a fit of optimism, booked myself a timed-ticket to the Kaffe Fassett – a Life in Colour exhibition at the Museum of Fashion and Textile tucked away in south-east London, but the nearer the time came, the less I felt like stirring from my desk.
I am so very glad that I did!
The exhibition started with a smaller room, showing photos, drawings and early work by and of Kaffe. I didn’t know anything about the early career of Kaffe Fasset and it was revealing to find out that a trip to the UK in the mid-1960s changed the course of his life and career, when after a visit, he decided to relocate to the UK.
The main hall opened up to reveal enough colour and texture to make me feel slightly out of breath with excitement. Kaffe Fassett’s career spans over 50 years and is rich in colour and texture. He produces complex and subtle mix of colour in all his artforms – painting, quilting, tapestry, knitting. He has been an inspiration for thousands of quilters, and let me apologise right now – I took virtually no photos of his quilting, choosing to concentrate on my loves for his knitting and tapestry designs!
For his tapestry, Kaffe took much inspiration from Nature. There are jaw-dropping designs of shells, cabbages, fruit and flowers. As a girl, I completed the Apple and Cherry cushion designs which were also exhibited much to my delight.
And then, finally to the knitting! Apparently Kaffe Fassett started knitting after a trip to Scotland, inspired by the natural hues found in the Scottish glens. He was taught to knit by a fellow train passenger (who happened to be the manager of a fashion boutique in London). The romance of it! A lifelong passion for knitting ensued and offering much happiness to people like me. Although I cannot afford much of Kaffe’s designs (he’s worked with Alice Paul, Missoni, Vogue Knitting, Baccarat and Rowan), I can marvel at their complexity, colour and design and emulate the most eye-catching designs.
There was a room dedicated to watercolours of Kaffe Fassett’s designs, complete with instructions on which colours to use. The detail was fascinating and for me, not a trained designer, to see how ideas come to life, it was incredibly exciting.
Finally, there was a video, where the man himself spoke of his work, and the importance of certain events in his life which influenced his work. Most recently, a charitable trip to India to assess what products could be made there to bring back to the UK for sale to benefit the Indian community. This resulted in a fundamental shift in his mind of the use of colour in his work.
The entire exhibition was beautifully curated. It was all photographable (no flash) and was truly inspirational. What a way to spend Friday lunchtime!
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