Monday, 20 May 2013

New Designs and Moulds : The Crystal Palace and Smithfield Market

For the past two weeks I have worked on new resin designs and a range of bangles inspired by The Crystal Palace and Smithfield Market, (working from archive film footage and photographs).  All of these are now at various stages of development from 3D models to part made up blocks.

©Jane Dzisiewski : Cut up photocopies of drawings - Smithfield Market

©Jane Dzisiewski : design produced from a collage of drawings - Smithfield Market

The Crystal Palace - ironwork and windows

©Jane Dzisiewski : Crystal Palace Design

©Jane Dzisiewski : bangle models - new sizes and designs

I also tweaked two of my existing designs and scaled new sizes from these and created a new bangle design for the Crystal Palace work.  The first blocks are now finished so I'll be cutting stones from these today and assessing what changes to make to the resin opacity and colours I've used so far.

©Jane Dzisiewski : resin block - detail

©Jane Dzisiewski : resin block - detail

For the colours I have been referring to the Pantone Colour forecasts for Spring and Autumn 2013 (see here).  I've also introduced references from The Grammar Of Ornament by Owen Jones as this contains the information he used for The Crystal Palace when he was overseeing the creation of the various exhibition Courts.

Owen Jones - The Grammar of Ornament : Moresque Designs - Alhambra Palace

I've been mixing various blues, reds, blacks, creams, off-whites and metal colours.  The image below I found on Tumblr gives an idea of the range of colours I have been mixing within this remit.

Pinterest : Tumblr image - no record of  citation

©Jane Dzisiewski : resin block detail after first sand

There's now two and a half weeks until The Contemporary Craft Festival in Bovey Tracey and much is still to be done!  For all festival information, list of exhibitors and details on advance ticket sales, please see their website here.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The Crystal Palace: An historical patchwork

Fuzzy photographs and lithographs. Piecing together research for the Crystal Palace is like trying to complete a giant jigsaw puzzle with most of the components missing.

A patchwork of information and a patchwork of pattern.

The Crystal Palace, 1851

The Crystal Palace: blurred images - filling in the gaps

The Crystal Palace, 1851

The Crystal Palace, 1854 - lithograph

©British Heritage The Crystal Palace, 1854 - The Alhambra Court : Owen Jones

Owen Jones’s interpretation of the Alhambra Palace inside The Crystal Palace is known as one of the best examples of Victorian Polychromy ever created.  It is virtually impossible to make out the individual patterns from Delamotte's photographs but Jones relied heavily on his collection of pattern "The Grammar of Ornament" when designing the various Courts inside the Palace.  This was the first book I purchased when I started my Printed Textiles Degree at Manchester Metropolitan University back in 1986 and it soon became my reference bible for pattern and has remained so ever since.

Below are three images of the Doha Tower, Qater under construction which depict a snapshot in my minds eye of how it must have been inside the Crystal Palace - in this case, the layering of Arabic forms over an ironwork structure. 

Doha Tower, Qatar - Jean Nouvel Architecture

Doha Tower, Qatar - Jean Nouvel Architecture: under construction

Doha Tower, Qatar - Jean Nouvel Architecture

Jane Dzisiewski - patchwork star

The Crystal Palace: a patchwork of pattern

Walking around this vast, 'Victorian Pleasure Dome' with exhibits from all over the world must have been a very overwhelming experience.  The "Guide to the Crystal Palace and Park - Facsimile edition of 1856 official guide" lists for example the following Courts:-

Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Alhambra, Assyrian, Bzantine and Romanesque, Medieval, Renaissance, Elizabethan, Italian, Stationary, Birmingham, Sheffield, Pompeian, Musical Instruments, Foreign Glass Manufacture, Ceramic, Sculpture Galleries (English, German, Greek, Roman, French, Italian, Gothic, Renaissance), Portrait Galleries (English, German, Greek, Roman, French, Italian), Industrial, Geology.

The Crystal Palace Guide Book listing 203 of the 217 sculptures within the Greek Court

Alongside the museum like Courts, there were also hundreds of market stalls selling goods from across all the Continents - as well as exhibits of industry, machinery and photography.  What photographs and lithographs there are were mainly taken for advertising purposes, so very little photographic evidence is in existence of the less high brow side to the exhibits within Crystal Palace, or even of the ironwork and glass structure itself.  I find this frustrating because I want to see the nuts and bolts and not just the shiny version of events.  Regardless of this, I primarily see what I always look for and that is pattern and negative space - and I see this everywhere.  I will be be bringing this to my work and filling in the gaps with my interpretation of how the Crystal Palace experience must have been for the visitors. 

The Crystal Palace - lithograph: Open gallery towards the garden

I've included the picture below because it is one of the few images I have seen which actually shows that the Crystal Palace was not just a place for the social elite.  The lithograph above depicts sedate Victorian society enjoying the Crystal Palace in virtual solitude, whereas the Palace was one of the most visited places with over 100 million visitors during its 80 year existence.  This painting by Blaikley is at odds with the normal paraphernalia produced and manages to capture the atmosphere and bustle within the Crystal Palace at the height of its popularity.

The Crystal Palace: Painting of the interior by A. Blaikley 1866

Thursday, 2 May 2013

The Crystal Palace: A source of Innovation and Inspiration

Following on from my work inspired by Smithfields Market, I've been researching other ironwork structures and have become somewhat obsessed with the Crystal Palace of late.

I discovered an amazing book "Delamotte's Crystal Palace" by Ian Leith which mainly centres around the Crystal Palace in its second incarnation after it was dismantled in Hyde Park at the end of the 1851 Great Exhibition and rebuilt in 1854 in Sydenham, Kent, as a much larger and permanent structure.

The Crystal Palace, 1851

©British Heritage The Crystal Palace, Sydenham, 1859 - taller and shorter in length than the original building, but with a greater volume using twice the amount of glass of its predecessor

Every page I turn I read another 'first' or an amazing fact about this era in History and the part the Crystal Palace played in it.  It inspired people to do great things; not all good, but it was primarily a time of dynamic innovation and invention.  It made me realise how small we have become, seeing obstacles rather than seeking solutions.  My new moto is to 'think like a Victorian' and to endeavour to try new things and be bolder when setting goals.  For instance, I would like to incorporate 3D printing into my Practice, (but as I already have done using Lasers), I'd like to experiment with this technology and produce new and less predictable outcomes than "Here is the design I did on the computer printed out into a 3D object".  It's good to have a goal and a challenge.

Joseph Paxton - 1st drawing plans for The Crystal Palace

The design for the Crystal Palace was by Joseph Paxton and was based on the glass houses he had constructed at Chatsworth.  Built off site and designed to be dismantled, it was in essence the first flat pack building ever made.

©Hulton-Deutsch/Corbis - the Victoria Regalia Lily which inspired Paxton's structural ideas for the Palace

©English Heritage - there was so much controversy surrounding the removal of this sequoia tree from California in 1853 to display in the Crystal Palace, that it brought about the conservation movement which created the National Parks in the USA.

©English Heritage - THE OLD AND THE NEW - Owen Jones's interpretation of the Alhambra Palace juxtasposed with Paxton's ironwork structure.  

The author George Elliot visited both the original Alhambra Palace in Granada and Owen Jones's recreation inside the Crystal Palace and proclaimed he thought the former was "vastly inferior".  Whilst I seriously doubt that, this and other accounts point to the quality of the exhibits at the Crystal Palace and it not being filled with tacky replicas of Egyptian temples and Greek statues that we would expect to see today in a similar enterprise.

©English Heritage - "The palace exhibited an almost complete anthology of classical and other sculpture which is only distantly echoed in the Cast Courts of the Victoria and Albert Museum.  Though mostly copies, some original sculpture was also in evidence.  In effect this was a key reference collection which had been carefully selected and copied by Owen Jones and T H Wyatt.  In the foreground is the Venus de Milo from the Louvre, Paris"...(Ian Leith, Delamotte's Crystal Palace, P.71)

©A J Mason c.1925 - The 1936 fire destroyed most of the palace.  The water towers were demolished during 1941 because they were a conspicuous landmark for enemy planes - and the Railway Station (LHS) soon followed

The remains of the Crystal Palace after the fire on December 1st, 1936

In the book, the last chapter entitled "A Mythical End" gives an account of what might have been if events had been different.  Supposition aside, had the Crystal Palace survived today it would certainly have been afforded Grade 1 listed status, whereas at this present time the Crystal Palace Campaign are fighting against planning for a multiplex cinema to be erected on what was once the site of this extraordinary building.  How depressingly 21st century is that?