Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Bradford Textile Archive

Yesterday I had a really interesting meeting with Helen Farrar, curator of Bradford Textile Archive. As the archive is situated within Bradford College this is a really handy resource, and one which I hope to use as a base for some of my research project.

Although the scope of the collection does not have many direct relationships with my project (being mainly later examples and fancy designs) Helen has kindly offered to allow me to use the archive space as a study space for analysing the shirt. Helen has also been able to recommend some further areas of research and identify books in the collection that may be helpful. I am also hoping that further down the line there may be opportunities to share my findings through the archive.

Although I have had a frustratingly slow start it seems as though some things are falling into place. I am so excited about really starting this project in earnest.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Elegance & Decadence: The Age of Regency

Although this goes completely against my methodology, and I have got ahead of myself in process, I have already come across possible ideas for the era of the 'Princes Shirt'. As a result my research antennae is tuned in to all things of the English regency period and thereabouts. This series called Elegance and Decadence: The Age of the Regency is fantastic. The first episode was on BBC 4 yesterday with Dr Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces. You can watch the first episode on BBC iplayer here.

First Glimpses

Before my research project started I took a few photos, of which I share this one here to whet the appetite rather than to inform or analyse. I suppose these are sneaky snaps before I start the 'proper' work of research.

Research Proposal for 'the Prince's Shirt'

As I begin the process of formulating my research project and setting in motion the various elements of research it seems appropriate to set out my plans. Here I will share some of my research proposal which outlines my research questions, methodology and proposed outcomes.

This project aims to investigate the provenance of the 'Prince's Shirt', a historical garment in private ownership, which has a family story connecting it to royalty. The project will try to ascertain the likelihood of royal ownership and the wider historical and contextual reading of the garment through Object Analysis (see below). The project is an opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of Object Analysis in costume and textile research, and to present this case study to students and researchers in the field in order to further subject knowledge.

The garment is owned by my maternal Grandmother, and has been stored away in the family linen chest. It has never been researched and there is no known documentary evidence associated with it, only a vague, limited verbal account of it's supposed history.

Methodology & Research Questions
The methodology for this research project is also key to formulating the research questions. By using Prown's system of Object Analysis (1982), along with subsequent observations and suggestions from  Montgomery (1982) and Steele (1998), I can formulate questions based on the three stages of analysis:

Observing and recording the physical construction and appearance of the shirt by looking, studying, photographing, measuring and drawing; How big is it? What is it made of? How is it constructed? What is the visual appearance? Is there any decoration or ornament?
Sensory exploration of the garment by handling, recording responses and considering te garment as a whole: What does it feel like to wear? How might it be worn? How does it cover or fit the body? How does it function? What is the emotional response of the researcher to the shirt?
Formulate questions and/or hypothesis based on the first two stages, any previous subject knowledge of the researcher; What is the age and provenance of the Prince's Shirt; how old is it? Where was it made? What is the status of this object and the wearer? How does it compare to other similar garments and textiles? This will involve museum and archive research, Literature research and possibly input from experts in the field. Possible sources may include: Bradford Textile Archive, Bradford College; V&A museum, London; Whitworth Art Gallery and Platt Hall Costume Gallery, Manchester; Strangers Hall Museum, Norwich and the Royal Costume Collection at Kensington Palace.

Finally, and key to this research project, I want to explore how effective Prown's system of object analysis (1982) is in gaining a greater understanding of this historical garment? By documenting the research process throughout I aim to demonstrate this methodology  and how useful it is in understanding cultural artefacts.

Research Outcomes
An article appropriate for publishing in a specialist journal.

This blog is also an outcome of the research and aims to record the research process in an accessible format in order to reach a wider audience for textile and costume research.