Thursday, 21 April 2016

At work with.........Yarmouth Stores - The Cutting Room

I have been back to Yarmouth Stores a few times since my last post. The plan is to make a book documenting the journey of a garment from start to finish and introducing  - the cutters/machinists at work - the history surrounding the store with links to the fishing industry - the many types of machines used in the making of a garment - and the atmosphere and daily runnings of a workplace. 

My intention is to promote the manufacturing trade still surviving in the UK and make people aware of the hard work and craft that goes on behind the scenes to make our clothing. 

With a plan in mind I decided to focus on the first stages which takes place in the cutting room. This was quite a challenge in terms of capturing movement. I had to work quite quickly.

The fabric is rolled out 
and the pattern is laid on top. More than a hundred pieces can be cut at one time depending on the size of the blade .

The cutting room is made up mainly of two long tables and directly above are the looping and curling wires from the machinery dangling down. What really drew my interest though was the archival display of vintage patterns showcased all around the walls.  I was inspired by the array of shapes, colours and in particular the hand drawn notes, marks and instructions scribbled all over the pieces using different pens....  The pattern makers artwork/sketchbooks!! These compliment my sketches well. Today patterns are printed digitally on thin paper.

I decided to record some of the notes by photographing them up close. They make great compositions revealing the delicate range of faded colours evoking time and the range of dynamic angles and shapes of the pieces that are the structures of our garments. The balance between the weights of marks created by the varying types and weights of pen is striking. I like the way the layers abstract and cut off the narrative. These are pieces of artwork in themselves.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Reportage Project - At Work with.......Yarmouth Stores

One evening whilst cooking in the kitchen a comment on the  Inside out Program on the television caught my attention. Great Yarmouth hot spot for fashion design! Great yarmouth a small coastal town in the East of England and not really seen as a place thats the height of fashion. This is worth seeing I thought!!  

A film has been made about the fascinating story of a clothing factory in Great Yarmouth becoming very big in the fashion world of Japan! The short film by documentary filmmaker Frances Harper was really inspiring and I thought it would be a fascinating reportage illustration project.   

Drawn to capturing People and places that are full of life this was the perfect topic for me. The idea of capturing the busy scenes of the machine lockers working in the factory and the history of the fishing industry would make a great narrative. I sent them an email with regard to sketching in the factory and I heard back saying they would be happy for me to come. This was a great opportunity and really exciting. 

 Yarmouth Stores originally started making fisherman's clothing. For Hundreds of years Yarmouth was a major fishing port , depending mainly on the herring fishery and when this  died out in the 60's, they started making uniforms for our workforces - industrial workwear, Boiler suits, aprons, railway jackets, smocks ..........and continue to do so along side the latest addition of  garments for the Japanese market which fits in well with their utilitarian style. 

Here are some sketches from my first visit

I was a bit overwhelmed at first and most of the machine lockers working didn’t mind me drawing. It was great to chat about the process and craft. I took a variety of dry and wet media to  capture the atmosphere of the people and place. Here are some my sketches from the day.

The machines were fantastic to draw and quite archaic. I tried to capture the rhythm and movement of the bobbins and cotton whirling in the air.  

The images below are drawn in a handmade sketchbook that I made at the urban sketchers Barcelona Symposium a few years ago, which is great to put to good use . I like the exposure of the threads and stitches next to the sketches. The expressive marks capture the sound of the machines whirling and moving rhythmically.

The zig zag marks echo the stitches that the machines make capturing the rhythm and energy. The loose marks and weights of line capture the delicate threads in contrast to the heavy machinery. The blocks of colour focus your eye onto the garment hanging and then moving upto the machinist at work.

A Fantastic and inspiring Start, great atmosphere energy and characters. Everyone was really friendly and encouraging. I was amazed at the work that goes into making an item of clothing from start to finish. I can't wait to go again.