My traineeship within the Costume and Textiles department has been a whirlwind of responsibilities thus far. One of the most enjoyable duties is helping out with our monthly Talking Textiles event, where members of the public are able to experience an informative and hands-on lecture within our study room. Topics range from the broad (such as Check Out Our Chintz!, which explored Chintz and other textiles inspired by Indian, Chinese and Japanese arts) to the rather esoteric (for Up Close and Personal, we examined the work of John Craske and convalescence via needlework). Making the collections accessible and meaningful to the public is a passion of mine, and seeing our knowledge passed on in such a tangible way is a delight. The sessions are quite informal, and any questions the visitors may have often drive the direction of the talk, such that the morning and afternoon sessions can vary quite a bit despite covering the same topic!
Preparations for the event have to begin a few days prior; as we are lucky enough to have such an extensive collection (over 32,000), selecting and retrieving the items to be shown as visual aids is a hard task, but one that allows me to familiarise myself with our collections and the various store layouts. On the day, I assist with setting the room up, greet and seat our visitors, assist our curator during the talk, and oversee any elements of handling that the public may engage with. Finally, after much cooing and animated discussion, everything needs to be carefully packaged away and returned to it’s rightful place within our archives.
Our most recent Talking Textiles event was Bloomin’ Lovely! which covered the huge history of floral motifs in textiles. The images accompanying this post are just some of the unique and sumptuous items that we had the pleasure of sharing with our audience- ranging from the 1670s to the 1970s, silks to woolens. Talking Textiles is taking a break over the summer, but shall resume in October. Keep an eye out for what we have planned when the latest Norwich Castle Museum What’s On brochure is released.