This time of year is normally a whirl of craziness and panic. This year I have pared Christmas down to the bone and am, for the first time ever, not only organised but actually enjoying the festive run up.
This isn’t some feat of organisational wizardry, but good old fashioned simplification and list making.
What it has meant is that not only has my recent incapacitation due to recklessness on the stairs not impacted on the festive plans, but also that a couple of weeks ago I was able to take some time out for a trip to the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool to visit their exhibition “An English Lady’s Wardrobe”.
Having visited the Dior exhibition in London earlier this year*, I didn’t expect this exhibition to have the same wow factor. And I was right. It doesn’t have the grandeur of Dior. BUT, this was a marvellous exhibition that created a fabulous counterpoint to the V&A.
Obviously, as those who have seen the Dior will know, that exhibition showcases exquisite works of art made by one of the most glorious couture houses of our time. The clothes are only accessible by a small number of wealthy women. They are, for most of us, a dream that will not be realised.
“An English Lady’s Wardrobe” is the opposite of this.
“The Tinne Collection provides a wonderful snapshot of life in a middle-class Liverpool family between the First and Second World Wars. The inclusion of photographs of the family home, along with personal letters, means that visitors will really get to know the Tinnes through the exhibition.”Pauline Rushton, Senior Curator
That said, Emily Tinne was not your average middle class woman. She was, quite frankly, something of a shopaholic. After her death over 700 items of clothing were found stored all over the house, even in a bathroom, in tea chests!
Many of the items still had tags attached to them. Emily bought some of the more glamorous items in a size smaller than she would ever hope to wear. Perhaps she purchased them for the sheer pleasure of owning the garment.
Emily Tinne was living the Dior dream, albeit on a less grandiose scale. The contents of her wardrobe were not couture, but she did not spare herself any pleasure when it came to purchasing garments and accessories she loved and coveted.
Whilst only about 10% of the collection is on show…
…(Emily’s) vast wardrobe transports us back to a very different Liverpool. From the prestigious, Parisian-inspired department stores providing made-to-measure services, to the highly skilled tailors, milliners and shoemakers, Liverpool was well equipped to cater to the needs of the wealthy elite living in Britain’s greatest port city.”Pauline Rushton, Senior Curator
I found this exhibition to be totally charming, excellently curated, and a fascinating step back in time.
In addition to the physical exhibitions, there are also film projections from the era, and contemporary music playing gently in the background. One film clip of ’20s era dancers prompted a delightful conversation with one of the docents.
The Walker is a wee gem of a gallery; a quiet haven from the manic bustle of Liverpool stuffed with Christmas shoppers. With most Liverpudlians shopping, the exhibition was only lightly attended. A far cry from the queues and crowds of the V&A.
So often we in the North have to travel at no small expense to attend exhibitions or workshops. It was such a joy to only have a small drive to such a lovely gallery.
If you find yourself able to visit Liverpool before 1st March 2020, do yourself a favour. Grab yourself a ticket and lose yourself in the world of Emily Tinne for an hour or two.
* Not the best day to travel without phone or camera!