16-22 April 2018
Second Sitters vs SCP at the Barbican Centre, London.
‘Three identical chair frames, three different upholsterers’
Showing the Bastard Beeralu Balzac. A prototype of an experimental process developed during a two day residency at the Tandemize Beeralu Cafe. Upholstered using a bastardised version of beeralu, a Sri Lankan lace-making technique, and uses only waste materials from the workshop and without any glues.
The Barbican Shop showcase three Matthew Hilton Balzac chair frames that were upholstered as part of Second Sitters vs SCP, a live upholstery demonstration that took place at the Geffrye Museum in May 2017, as part of the Second Sitters touring exhibition Upholstery: Evolution to Revolution. Coakley & Cox ltd. upholsterer, Steve, upholstered the chair as Matthew Hilton intended, whilst Second Sitters curators Hannah Stanton and Jude Dennis upholstered their chairs spontaneously in their unique styles.
The Second Sitters led project was an experiment in spontaneous upholstery that put the upholsterer at the forefront of the design process.
The original ‘vs’project was sponsored by SCP and Coakley & Cox Ltd as part of the Second Sitters Upholstery: Evolution to Revolution exhibition at the Geffrye Museum, and took place live during London Craft Week 2017. One year on and the three Balzacs are reunited and shown completed, and for the first time, as part of Make! A Season of Contemporary Craft, curated by the Barbican Centre’s retail team in partnership with Crafts magazine.
This winter, Second Sitters bring their radical touring exhibition, Upholstery: Evolution to Revolution, to the National Centre for Craft & Design, Seaford, Lincolnshire. The show is a fascinating journey through the history of upholstery in the UK, featuring works that challenge the traditional, preconceived role of the upholsterer, exploring the craft in contemporary, unusual and unexpected ways. The exhibition is generously supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
On show - selected Stackers and the first two of my new Untitled series. Untitled looks directly at the nature of ‘women's work’ as reflected through the eyes of the upholstress. Drawing on historical references and processes each new Stacker tells her story. One of the the first written mentions of specifically female upholsterers is by Henry Mayhew, Victorian journalist, social commentator and reformer he commented “there are more old maids employed in the upholstery business than any other”. The project has been inspired by the Centenary of the passing of the Representation of the People Act 6 February 1918.