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Apologies for sending this out again, but there was a technical problem with the links which has now been solved.  Do check out the links as I think you will enjoy them…..

This weekend, I represented the Midlands Textile Forum at a sister event in the eastern region, run by the Eastern Region Textile Forum.  Set on the top floor of the college in Chelmsford (with its lovely breezy patio and a relaxing view over the river and mill pond) the conference was packed full of interesting speakers and chances to network, along with chances to browse books at the Chrome Yellow book stall, which is always dangerous because the books are wonderful!  As ever, I spent more than I should have!!  But books are always worth while!! 

The event began with the AGM.  It’s always interesting to see how other areas work and to see the points of similarity and contrast between different groups.  ERTF has a good sized membership and a fairly large committee but it was the usual problem with recruiting key committee people which we all seem to face.  Each of the counties that ERTF covers has their own active county group which is very different to how we run in the Midlands.  It was good to hear what each group was up to, and what was delegated to the umbrella organisation. 

ERTF run two conferences a year, one in April, the other in November.  This conference was all about Fashion and Textiles and Kathy Lewiston gave a presentation about her previous work at Coutaulds where she worked as a designer, involving fashion forecasting, trends and colours for 39 years.  Technical problems with her presentation (not being in a compatable format with the college computers) led to a considerable delay which was filled with aplomb by ERTF member Juliet Bryson, who was giving a Members Spotlight talk about her degree and her machine knitted mini-capes and scarves which she retails.  Juliet creates some lovely textures through her machine knitting and embellishments which were great fun and lovely pieces.

After a buffet lunch, Dr Veronika Kapsali, the programme leader of the BA Fashion and Textiles course, and developer of the MA Fashion at Middlesex University, plus weave tutor Gwen Fereday gave us an introduction to the Fashion and Textiles course and told us about the facilities that were available to students and visitors at Middlesex Uni.  They are going to be moving to a purpose built site in Hendon, which is great news, as so many great textiles courses are going to the wall, with the announcement very recently of the closure of Duncan of Jordanstone’s constructed textiles course (one of the best in the UK, in my opinion), and the imminent closure of Macclesfield Silk Museum because Cheshire East council has withdrawn some crucial funding from the Museum due to the current economic climate!!  Anyway, back to Middlesex Uni!  The two tutors were very open to discussion with some of the ERTF members about their being involved in the university, and it will be interesting to see if those discussions go any further…..

The final two speakers for the day came from The Fashion & Textile Museum in London.  If you are in the US, you might not have known about this wonderful museum in Bermondsey, just south of the River Thames from London Bridge, and originally set up by British fashion designer Zandra Rhodes.  This museum is not in competition with the V&A or the Bath collection, and features mostly contemporary fashion and has had some really brilliant exhibitions.  In 2005, Newham College in East London took on the running of the musuem to secure its long-term future, and they have a very forward looking attitude to re-introducing apprenticeships to Savile Row Bespoke tailors and other very practical approaches to the textiles industry.  Dennis Northdruft, the Curator of the Museum, talked humourously about some of the exhibitions they have held at the museum, and plans for the future, and Chris Hall from Newham College expounded on the educational approach of the college. 

It was a packed day with plenty of networking opportunities, and it was lovely for me to meet so many lovely textiles people, and connect with another group trying to take textiles forward.