Rainbows over Claverton Manor
19th March 2014
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I was part of the press posse that uttered a collective 'wow' as the American Museum's mini-bus drew up outside the main entrance to Claverton Manor near the University of Bath.

It's the wonderful period home which houses the amazing collection of American decorative and folk art that has become a firm  favourite on the local culture map since opening in 1961.

In front of us a lofty yew tree was decorated with hundreds of multi-coloured textile and woollen ornaments. More vivid colours - this time in knitted form - covered the formal lamps lining the wall holding back a 'host of golden daffodils.'

However - just for once - spring colour was being outdone by the biggest display of psychedelia l have seen since pinning up my Jimmy Hendrix poster back in the early 1970's.

This - along with other knitted ornaments which dangled and swayed in the breeze from their banner pole attachments - was just the warm-up to what we would find inside an exhibition space which has been kitted out to celebrate the work of one of the worl'd most colourful artistic characters.

Kaffe Fassett is a world-renowned knitwear and textile designer who - when he came to live in Britain in the early 1960's - stayed for a while in Bath and was much inspired by the American Museum's diverse collection.

He's back to celebrate his fifty years of working as an artist and colourist with a sumptious display of over one hundred works of textile art. A kaleidoscope of knitwear, needlepoint, beading and quilts which are showing alongside vibrant mosaics and still-life paintings.

The exhibitions is presented in distinct zones, each showcasing a variety of materials by colour, from knitted shawls to gorgeous coats inspired by Shakespearean heroines and cushions decorated with his detailed needlepoint designs.

The colours are vibrant, luminous and intense. Some may need to reach for their sunglasses. Kaffe set out years ago to ' find colour in a grey world' and he has done that here in abundance. You cannot help but be cheered by the explosion of hues that hits you.

The American Museum opens to the public at noon on Saturday, March 22nd and stays open until November 2nd. However dull and grey our summer may yet turn out to be there's a guaranteed splash of colour to lift your spirits here.

I came out of the exhibition and had time - before the mini bus took us back down in Bath - to inspect the decorated yew tree in closer detail. Maybe we could start a new fashion here to have decorated summer trees as well as Christmas ones?

I had to smile at the hundreds of coloured woollen pom poms dangling from its branches. I am told the many Friends of the Museum had been busy making them.

I think it was the only thing in wool l have ever successfully made! Easier than trying to make needles do what they were invented for. Maybe we should all start making pom poms for our own trees?

The Colourful World of Kaffe Fassett awaits you. More info via www.americanmuseum.org




About the Author

richard w

Member since: 4th February 2014

Ex television and radio presenter and now Director of The Virtual Museum of Bath - www.virtualmuseumofbath.com - an on-line daily record embracing all developments in the history and heritage of the city...

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