Two Worlds – In the Footsteps of the Silver Studio
Jo Angell & Katie Horwich present the site specific installation
“Two Worlds – In the Footsteps of the Silver Studio”
22nd November – 31st December 2014
Uniting imagery from the 1890s work of Arthur Silver with current imagery found within the streets of North Finchley, designer Jo Angell and artist Katie Horwich have created an enchanting new world which transforms the familiar, and highlights the exotic.
Both Jo and Katie won the Hasler Gallery commission to develop a piece or body of work inspired by the Silver Studio and Hasler collections housed at the Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture (MoDA). The Silver Studio was one of the most influential textile design studios in the UK from its formation in 1880 until the middle of the twentieth century. The commission is a collaborative project initiated by the North Finchley Town Team in a joint venture with MoDA, funded by the Mayor’s Office Outer London Fund and the London Borough of Barnet.
Since the start of the summer Jo and Katie have been exploring MoDA’s archive and the North Finchley area with a sketchbook in hand. They both decided that they wanted to combine some of the imagery they found within the archive with the imagery they found by spending time roaming streets.
Over time they realized they were both drawn to Silver’s Art Deco period of design, Oriental chinoiseries and to the Japanese inspired Katagami stencils originally used for designs on kimonos. During the 1890s, Arthur Silver was heavily interested in and influenced by the art of Japan. He worked closely with Alexander Rottman who imported many different varieties of paper from Japan. With Rottman, the Silver Studio developed a pioneering technique of stencil decoration, influenced by Japanese stencils, which in turn came to influence the Studio’s own Art Nouveau designs. Anglo-Japanese collaboration of this kind in the 1890s meant that Japanese influences were absorbed into British design and decoration and equally that British tastes influenced the products of Japan itself. Interestingly over 100 years on, the Barnet area still has a strong connection to Japan.
“In the Silver Studio, exotic motifs travelled and were re-interpreted into homes across suburban London, and were initially incongruous to the setting” Jo Angell
When exploring the Barnet area Jo was surprised to find a similar incongruous object, a Ginkgo tree that had recently been planted in North Finchley’s High Road. Her installation focuses on the way these unfamiliar objects interact within their new environment. Her installation comprises a waterfall of Ginkgo leaves made from stenciled handmade papers juxtaposed with a series of paneled textile designs inspired by the hidden art deco facade of an original department store in Finchley.
After an initial career as a graphic designer, Jo Angell returned to Central St Martins to follow a lifelong passion in textiles and studied CSM’s innovative MA Textile Futures from 2006-8. Jo’s varied design work has included award-winning wallpaper designs for Graham & Brown, a prototype window display for Louis Vuitton and an innovative shade canopy for the Chelsea Flower Show, which won a gold medal. Jo also creates and sells her own digitally printed textile designs, which are made into scarves and other accessories: www.joangell.com
Katie Horwich studied Illustration at the University of Brighton. She grew up within the Finchley area. In infants school she remembered that she would swap bits of “Japanese paper” in the playground. After seeing the MoDA Collection and the Japanese influence, she wondered if the area had changed since she’d left. She was reassured to discover that there was still a strong connection.
“Amongst the local children, Japanese and Gujarati are the most common languages other than English spoken in the homes of West Finchley.”
For the Hasler Gallery she has created a decorative screen, which combines images of the local Barnet landscape with ancient Japanese screens, direct observational drawing with imagined exotic motifs. Her pieces evoke the act of swapping the snippets of the exotic within the very urban environment of the playground, and the magical quality found within these juxtapositions.
on of her explorations of the area she say’s:
“I stood at the 221 bus stop on Alexandra Grove and stared at the sky. I’d spent hours waiting there as a schoolgirl. A pigeon landed on a branch, but I wished it were a hummingbird. I was waiting for dusk when the Finchley sky turns purple and you squint, imagining you’re in Kyoto” She looks at her work and asks whimsically “I wonder if somewhere in Japan there is a small suburb that looks just like Finchley?”