Throwback Thursday: Dr Helena Britt on “Interwoven Connections”

This week, GSA Archives and Collections reminisce about Dr Helena Britt’s project of several years ago.”Interwoven Connections” focused on carpet manufacture company Stoddard Templeton. Helena is a Lecturer in the Department of Fashion and Textiles at The Glasgow School of Art and curated Interwoven Connections.

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Why did you use GSA Archives & Collections?

I visited the Stoddard Templeton Design Library and viewed carpet samples held in the Archives & Collections Centre to undertake research as part of a project funded by The Royal Society of Edinburgh titled Interwoven Connections: The Stoddard Templeton Design Studio and Design Library, 1843-2005.

The Stoddard Templeton companies were primarily carpet manufactures, based in Scotland. They were commissioned to produce carpets for an array of highly prestigious occasions and interiors; they also produced carpets for the domestic market and exported worldwide. Throughout the companies’ existence they employed numerous reputable designers and an in-house design team. The research project focuses on the Stoddard Templeton Design Library, held at GSA, this was the in-house resource used by designers to inspire and aid the design process. The Design Library includes a rich array of material amassed from the mid-nineteenth to early twenty-first centuries. The intention of the research is to establish how the Design Library was used in the Stoddard Templeton Design Studio. The methods used include analysis of archive and historical material, oral history interviews with relevant scholars and experts, including Stoddard Templeton employees. The research will contribute to knowledge and understanding regarding utilisation of archive resources and explication of the carpet and therefore textile design process.

Had you used archives or museum collections previously?

Yes, I was part of a group project led by Jimmy Stephen-Cran and undertaken by Department of Fashion & Textiles and Centre for Advanced Textiles (CAT) staff, which examined the conceptual possibilities of re-interpreting, archive material for contemporary fashion and textile related design work. I worked collaboratively with Elaine Bremner, to product a collection of printed textiles, which were exhibited in AWAKEN: New Textiles Inspired by the Archives and Collections at The Glasgow School of Art, Mackintosh Gallery, 24 January – 28 February 2009 and featured in the post-exhibition publication.

What was your experience of visiting the Archives & Collections Centre?

The primary purpose of the visit was to view the Stoddard Templeton carpet samples held by the Centre. However, as tends to happen whenever I visit the Archives & Collections Centre I came away with a wealth of information regarding Stoddard Templeton, the companies and the archive collections, due to insight provided by the highly knowledgeable Archives & Collections Centre staff.

What did you find out from our holdings?

Information regarding the Stoddard Templeton companies and in particular the types, material quality and design of some of the carpets they designed, produced and collected. Photographing the carpets during the visit permits further research into the design process used to create the carpets undertaken using other Archive and Museum sources.

Has your visit led you to using other Archive / Museum sources?

As part of the research project I will be visiting other Archive and Museum resources including Glasgow University Archives and Collections Services, Glasgow Museums, Paisley Museum, Bridgeton Library, Victoria & Albert Museum and the Kidderminster Museum of Carpet. Access to the Stoddard Templeton Design Library held at GSA is central to the project.

For more information visit the exhibition website or watch a short film about the exhibition on Vimeo.

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