Journeys East- A Discovery of Hidden Treasures is Open!

We here at the Wallace Collection are very pleased to announce that Journeys East- A Discovery of Hidden Treasures is open! Women and Children from each corner of London including East Ham, Pekham, Ealing and West Hampstead have spent a very productive, creative and extraordinary year learning about the Wallace Collection’s Dutch works of art and making a wonderful array of collages, silks and ceramics in response to these beautiful paintings. On Friday the 16th November all of those who contributed to the making of this incredible and unique exhibition joined their friends and families at the Wallace Collection to celebrate the opening of Journeys East and participant’s achievements of turning into incredible artists and curators. Entertainment included some beautiful traditional tabla and sitar music provided by Tabla Sounds and baroque recorder and violin pieces performed by Rosa and William Hitzel. Rangoli craft and henna painting were also provided and the Wallace Collection’s fabulous group of Refugee Tour Guides also dazzled guests with their sensational knowledge and presentation skills through giving guests talks on the Museum’s Dutch paintings. The night would not have been nearly as successful as it was without the Museum’s brilliant group of Community Ambassadors who not only planned the party and put together party bags for all of the guests but were also on hand throughout the night keeping people happy, entertained and in the right place at the right time! The Wallace Collection would like to give a huge huge thank you to all of those who came to the party, performed at the party and who helped to deliver such an amazing event. Everyone involved in creating the exhibition and party should feel very very proud of themselves. Do please continue to support this courageous project by bringing your family and friends to see Journeys East and also to see the free guided tours that the project’s Refugee Tour Guides will be giving on Thursdays and Saturdays throughout December and January. Here are some pictures of the exhibition and the party;


Preparing for Journeys East

I am pleased to say that all of the artwork has now been completed for Journeys East- A Discovery of Hidden Treasures. A gorgeous array of collages, tiles, vases and silks have been made by West Hampstead Women’s Group, Aaina Women’s Group, Newham Family Learning Services and West Ealing Deaf Women’s Minority Group. To celebrate the completion of this monumental challenge and exciting year of creative activity, project participants visited the Wallace Collection to design the layout of the exhibition and to create interpretation for Journeys East. During this day West Hampstead Women’s group worked very hard at planning the layout of vases in the exhibition cases and Aaina Women’s group planned the order that the exhibition’s silks will be presented in. Groups also worked very hard at writing personal labels for their artwork. It was a really fun day and it gave the ladies a chance to look back and take pleasure from the beautiful artwork they have made and the creative journey they have embarked on in creating such a remarkable exhibition. Journeys East will open on the 17th November and will remain open until the 13th January and so do please come along to see this incredible and sumptuous exhibition.

Tile Painting and Finishing Silks with Aaina Women’s Group

Today I worked with Aaina Women’s group to complete the silks the ladies have been working on for the past few months and to complete some tiles they have been working on for the last week or two. The tiles are inspired by the themes of ‘Travel’ , ‘Spice’ and ‘Identify’. They were painted using blue and turquoise glass paint which the ladies applied to their tiles free hand using paint brushes. The results were the beautiful tiles below. At the end of the session we displayed some of the work the group have created during the last nine months. None of the group have ever received any formal art training and none of the ladies had painted using glass or silk paints before. From looking at the work they have produced for their Journeys East exhibition it is clear to see that they have all been on a profound journey in which their artistic talents and skills have grown enormously. I would just like to take this opportunity to thank Aaina Women’s Group for all of the tremendous hard work and effort they have put into this project as well as the large amounts of time they have dedicated to making artwork for their exhibition.

Silk Painting with West Ealing Deaf Women’s Minority Group and West Hampstead Asian Women’s Group

Today myself, Alex Hirtzel and Sobia Khan visited West Ealing Deaf Women’s Minority Group to start the group’s silk scrolls. During today’s workshop the ladies planned and sketched the drawings they will apply to their silks which are inspired by the themes of ’Travel’ and ‘Journeys’ with the ladies thinking about the long journeys they made in moving to England many years ago. Once they had their drawings on paper, the ladies put their paper under their silk and traced over the lines using a special Gutta pen. The Gutta pen is like a glue and acts as a wall to stop the silk paints from bleeding into each other.  Next week the group will continue to add their Gutta outlines to their silks and will then apply silk paints to add lots of exciting colours and textures. In the afternoon we also visited West Hampstead Asian Women’s Center to continue with the lady’s silk scrolls. So far the group have created some incredibly beautiful and very skilled designs and are currently enjoying experimenting with the variety of colours and effects the silk paints can achieve. Here are some pictures of the groups, their designs and the Gutta  and painting process;


Rangoli with West Hampstead Women’s Centre 29th August 2012

Today myself and the Education Department visited West Hampstead Women’s centre to make a Rangoli rice pattern which will be displayed on the floor outside the lady’s exhibition which they have decided to title Journey’s East: A Discovery of Hidden Treasures. The Rangoli Rice pattern will be displayed outside the exhibition to welcome visitors into the exhibition.

Rangoli is an art tradition from India. Rangoli are decorative designs made on the floors of houses and courtyards during Hindu festivals. They are meant to be sacred welcoming areas for the Hindu deities and for guests celebrating festivals.  The ancient symbols included in Rangoli are often passed on through the ages, from each generation to the next, thus keeping both the art form and the tradition alive. The patterns are typically created with materials, including coloured rice, dry coloured flour, sand or even flower petals.

In our Rangoli we have included symbols from the Wallace Collection Dutch paintings including a key from Jan Steen’s The Harpsichord Lesson, hearts from Frans Hal’s The Laughing Cavalier and a purse from Rembrandt’s portrait of Jean and Casper Pellicorne. These Dutch symbols have been mixed with traditional Rangoli designs.

The ladies completed their designs by applying glue to a pre drawn Rongoli design cut into four smaller quarters and sprinkling coloured rice on top of the glue and securing the rice by pressing it down with their hands and plastic spoons. The results were amazing and beautifully coloured squares that were photographed and will be joined back together using Photoshop. The finished picture will be printed onto a large vinyl square which will be fixed to the floor outside the Journeys East exhibition. Here are some lovely photos of the day and the ladies busy at work;

Silk Painting with Aaina and West Hampstead Women’s Groups

Since June, I have been visiting Aaina and West Hampstead Women’s groups to continue working on the group’s beautiful and very long silk scrolls. So far the ladies have dyed their long pieces of silk lots of very different and vibrant colours. They have also planned and sketched the drawings for their silks which are inspired by the themes of ’Travel’ and ‘Journeys’ with the ladies thinking about the long journeys they made in moving to England many years ago and the modes of transport they used to get here. The ladies have also thought about their favourite holiday destinations and landmarks from around the world as well as famous landmarks from their indigenous countries. The groups have created beautiful designs based upon these themes embellished with gorgeous flower and patterning designs. Once they had their drawings on paper the ladies put their paper under their silk and traced over the lines using special Gutta pens and paint.  The Gutta acts as a wall to stop the flow of silk paint and therefore defines the outline of designs. Once the Gutta is painted onto the silk the ladies apply silk paints to add lots of exciting colours to their silks. So far the groups have created some incredibly beautiful and very skilled designs and are currently enjoying experimenting with the variety of colours and effects the silk paints can achieve. Here are some pictures of the groups, their designs and the Gutta and painting process;

Workshop with UCL Special Collections and West Ealing Deaf Minority Women’s Group

On 11 July Tabitha Tuckett and Gill Furlong from UCL Special Collections and I – Stefanie van Gemert, from the UCL Dutch Department – cautiously wrapped up some special books in a waterproof box to bring along to the Wallace Collection. We used ‘book pillows’ to keep the old books in place, and to prevent them from moving during our taxi trip from UCL to the Wallace Collection (through a not-very-summery shower!).

There we met the women from West Ealing Deaf Minorities Group who showed us their wonderful pink treasure bags and discussed their freshly-printed family treasure trails over tea. These two colourful treasure trails will soon be available for free at the Wallace Collection (from August onwards), and the trails will help families to understand the Collection’s Dutch paintings better through play. I had a quick preview of both trails in the East Galleries and they were great fun – I can definitely recommend them!

During the workshop, I spoke with the group about treasures, travels and the history of the Dutch East India Company. The books (brought along by Tabitha and Gill) helped us to get a sense of how the world started to become smaller in the 17th century through trading and travelling. At the same time, they were beautiful historical objects made out of precious material, such as Moroccan leather, silks (probably from China or India) and gold. It was a unique experience to be able to touch these books from the 17th and 18th century, and see them in close-up: they were a piece of history, and brought the story about the Dutch East India Company to life.

Whilst Rembrandt and his clients lived in Amsterdam and indulged in collecting ‘treasures from the East’, other – often poor – Dutchmen spent months working on ships to meet and trade with other people. During the workshop we learnt that besides an exchange in goods, there were also exchanges in knowledge and tastes: travellers studied other languages; Europeans learnt about Indian medicine through a Portuguese doctor in Goa; spices made Western dishes far tastier; Japanese robes became a ‘scientific’ fashion.

After the workshop we met in the East Galleries to try out the new trails developed by the group. Thanks so much, West Ealing group, for your stories, knowledge and other input during the workshop! I hope you enjoyed your visit and you feel inspired by the books when working on more art work for the Treasures from the East exhibition.

Here are some photos from the day: