When I first saw the Hermitage Gallery, there was this enormous sign sitting in a window bay. It was from the time that two of the Rosencrantz women ran a tea room there. I was very relieved to learn that it would not be there for my show. Here's the window bay, as I began set up:
I knew that this was going to be a 'study', a place where smaller pieces would be laid out for examination. But no matter how I arranged it, it didn't work. Again, my friend Joan Dreyer came to the rescue: "It needs height. Something tall".
So I ran ropes across the tops of the windows, and hung all sorts of pieces from my collection:
The hanging crochet pulled it all together, creating a fantasy atmosphere.
The book is Introduction to Fossilization. Each page explains a different type of fossilization, with textile illustrations. The dark Impressions under it will be explained in an upcoming post. In back, on the window sill, are mason jars of crochet specimens, and 2 Shmidt boxes:
Instead of bugs, these Schmidt boxes hold snaps. And that's the Closet Archaeology show. There was one more display, that I somehow missed photographing, based on a pair of stockings:
The note explained that the handmade stockings had been worn by a woman named Sarah on her wedding day in 1848. They were also worn by her daughter on her wedding day in 1872. I remember carefully displaying them in a case on a small side wall. There was a small table under the case, with an information book on it. Under the table, I had a little white trash bin, labeled 'trash', and filled with old white socks. So the contrast was there to find, if anyone looked.
The show had many of those small hidden elements: drawers to be opened, objects placed not-quite-in-sight, surprises ready for anyone who took more than a quick glance. Old clothing holds so many secrets, from pennies found in the pockets to cash sewn into the linings to the pattern of repairs and meanings in the weave. As I write this, an article in the NY Times tells of Norse burial clothing found to have Arabic writing woven into the collar. Buried for centuries, in storage for decades, only now a young scientist has looked closely enough to notice. What amazing story is behind that writing?
Old clothing deserves more than a quick glance before going to Salvation Army.