exploring the distaff effect : miss isabel walton gawthorpe textiles collection 2018
EXPLORING THE DISTAFF EFFECT
Gawthorpe Hall is a stunning Grade I listed Elizabethan house located between Padiham and Burnley, home to the Kay-Shuttleworth family. The last inhabitant, Miss Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth, affectionately known as Miss Rachel, was an avid collector of exemplary textile works which she used as an educational tool to show people how to improve their own skills. The legacy of her strong connections to others continues on and is evident in the Gawthorpe Textiles Collection.
Isabel Walton was born and lived most of her life in Blackburn. She won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art where she studied Architecture and Embroidery (1915-1920) and after a short period teaching in London, she returned to Blackburn to teach at the Technical College from 1921. As well as her teaching she completed many works of embroidery and design, including the Blackburn Roll of Honour for the Great War, a book which is on display at Blackburn Town Hall. Isabel developed a strong connection with Miss Rachel, who referred to her in a handwritten note as 'Isa'. After Isabel's death, in 1962, some of Isabel's work, designs and notes were donated to the Gawthorpe Textile Collection by her family, as well as a spinning wheel.
A distaff is a stick or spindle on to which wool or flax is wound for spinning and holds the unspun fibres to ease the spinning process. This object was also sometimes called a 'Rock'. Distaff is a word that is also used to describe the female line of descent of a family,
It is through this female focussed lens that I will build on research begun by the collection team, to spark creative responses to Miss Isabel Walton and her connections to Miss Rachel, and to Blackburn. My initial research findings are shared in a blog, here: https://missisabelwalton.blogspot.com/
Creative Happenings will take place at Gawthorpe Hall in Miss Rachel's study and in nearby rooms on the following dates: - Wednesday, 17th October - Sunday, 21st October - Wednesday, 24th October - Thursday, 25th October - Saturday, 3rd November