Box of shoes at Platt Hall
Today I saw some of Mary’s collection of costume, textiles and shoes for the first time. It felt so ghostly: up in the attic at Platt Hall surrounded with boxes and boxes of clothes which were once full of life, real people, playing children, sleeping babies. But now they are laid to rest in boxes, no more life, just memories that we can only guess at. Dead. But it was one of the most evocative days I’ve spent rummaging about. Was the bonnet one that Mary herself had worn? Did she really wear the beautiful dresses, the ivy leaf embroidered wedding dress? Perhaps not, but it really felt like she was in that collection. A fabulous collection of shoes, both highly decorative (not Mary Greg 1922) but also the humble plain leather children’s shoes (very definitely Mary), with cracks and crevices where someone’s tiny feet moved as they walked, danced, played.
Wedding dress with embroidered ivy leaves
And so many ideas about how we might exhibit some of these things in this amazing space (especially following our visit to Enchanted Palace at Kensington Palace, and the Concise Dictionary of Dress at Blythe House). A giant dolls’ house in itself… Where will these thoughts take us? We shared some interesting comments with Miles too about whether Mary’s collection only came into the gallery because of a desire to have the ‘grander, more important’ ceramics collection of her husband. Miles always refers to Mary as ‘Mrs Greg’. I like that. I wonder if there is a difference in the generalised contrast between the ‘scientific’ collecting of men (e.g. the costumes of Mr Cunnington who apparently could have been a ceramics collector had ceramics been more affordable – instead he looked to something affordable and other – e.g. costume – that he could catalogue, collect specimens and almost finalise) and that of women – Mary who collected what she loved because it was beautifully crafted, domestic, just a lovely thing that she wanted to share with others, particularly children.
So many ideas. So much that we still haven’t seen.
In the meantime, look here on Flickr for further pictures I took today…