|Jo’s commission draws on the Silver Studio collection housed at the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture (MoDA).
The Silver Studio was one of the most influential textile design studios in the UK from its formation in 1880 until the middle of the twentieth century. Since the start of the summer 2014 Jo was exploring MoDA’s archive and the North Finchley area with a sketchbook in hand, having decided that she wanted to combine some of the imagery she had found within the archive with some of the iconography of the area.
Jo was particularly drawn to the Silver’s Art Deco period of design, Oriental chinoiseries and the Japanese inspired Katagami stencils originally used for designs on kimonos. During the 1890s, Arthur Silver was heavily interested in and influenced by the art of Japan. He worked closely with Alexander Rottman who imported many different varieties of paper from Japan. With Rottman, the Silver Studio developed a pioneering technique of stencil decoration, influenced by Japanese stencils, which in turn came to influence the Studio’s own Art Nouveau designs. Anglo-Japanese collaboration of this kind in the 1890s meant that Japanese influences were absorbed into British design and decoration and equally that British tastes influenced the products of Japan itself. Interestingly over 100 years on, the Barnet area still has a strong connection to Japan.
“In the Silver Studio, exotic motifs travelled and were re-interpreted into homes across suburban London, and were initially incongruous to the setting”
When exploring the Barnet area, Jo was surprised to find a similar incongruous object, a Ginkgo tree that had recently been planted in North Finchley’s High Road as part of the High Street regeneration programme. Her installation focuses on the way these unfamiliar objects interact within their new environment. Her installation comprises a waterfall of Ginkgo leaves made from stenciled handmade papers juxtaposed with a series of paneled textile designs inspired by the art deco facade of the former Owen Owen, a department store Finchley that closed over a decade ago, one of the faded symbols of the high street’s former position as a key destination venue for the area.
Uniting imagery from the 1890s work of Arthur Silver, a colour palette of distinctly Art Deco tones, with current imagery found within the streets of North Finchley, Jo’s collection reminds us to look up, and look more deeply at the small flashes of beauty that surround us.
To find out more about Jo and her work, visit her artist page.