‘If all the year were playing holidays; To sport would be as tedious as to work.’
William Shakespeare 'Henry IV, Part 1' (1597) 1: 2, l.
It was a warm and clear day on Sunday for the Triathlon events at Stratford Upon Avon with many tourists encouraging the participants in the pool, on the cycle and on the run, including those on leisure cruises on the River Avon as the run route goes along the towpath, for a short distance. It is classed as a fun but challenging event with a Sprint (400m swim, 18 kilometre cycle and 5K run), distance as well as supersprint, relay and youth events. In 2019 British Triathlon has a social media campaign, #TriLikeMe designed to show that triathlon is for everyone, and this was certainly in evidence with a range of different abilities.
Just the cycles alone used in the Stratford Triathlon varied from highly specialised to commuter models and many swimmers began the race with a steady front crawl. A range of disability athletes also completed the course, whether assisted by a dual athlete or unaided and it was a very supportive event.
Chaos in the pool
The worst element of the event, in terms of organisation, was the pool. In three 33 metre length lanes, participants had to swim up and down each lane four times, before moving under the ropes to the next lane, again completing four lengths and so on in the final lane. The problem with this were, firstly, that there was no seeding in terms of swimming times, so slower swimmers were mixed in the pool with faster swimmers, and secondly there was no particular guidance as to how to complete the four lengths. So some swam up and down while others swam clockwise around the lane, meeting other swimmers head on. It was therefore almost impossible to get a steady rhythm and trying to get around the slower swimmers was fatiguing, and with four or five abreast a lane, sometimes impossible. This should be improved in future events because it gets the whole race off to a bad start. Kelly swam particularly well and overtook lots of slower swimmers but for Jean, who 400m would normally take between 8 and 9 minutes outside of a race scenario, this was a frustratingly slow 12 minutes. Thankfully this could be made up on the cycle and run sections.
Shakespeare Country: Born in Latin, Died in English
Having taught English, Media and Theatre Studies for over ten years at a Sixth Form College in the 1980s and 1990s, Jean regularly used to bring students to Stratford Upon Avon for theatre trips related to their A Level studies. Stratford Upon Avon is the place where Shakespeare was born, we think on or around 23 April because he was baptized on 26 April 1564. He grew up in the market town, probably attending its famous Kings New School, a Grammar School, where classical Latin was the main language by Royal decree. He married Anne Hathaway aged eighteen and having three children together. Between 1585 and 1592 (his lost years) he moved to London, varying his movements between Oxford, London and Stratford. By 1599 his company had constructed The Globe theatre, and he also bought New Place in 1597, the second largest house in Stratford, also investing in the Parish tithes. What continues to draw people to the town today is the combination of the plays and poetry, which are taught to children in school as compulsory elements of the curriculum and the number of intriguing aspects of Shakespeare’s life that remain difficult to resolve. Not least, did one man write all these works of genius and change the face of the English language, so much so that it is said Shakespeare was born in Latin but died in English, as his funery monument has engraving in English language terms, and even more provocative, a curse against moving his bones. And historians have puzzled over why, having left her little else, did he bequeath his wife his ‘second best’ bed.
Shakespearean Sports and Pastimes
There are many references to games and pastimes in the plays and poetry, some that we would recognise, like archery that were the principle skill in battle at the time that were endorsed as compulsory by several Kings and Queens and to prioritise this others, like football, were banned as too violent. Backgammon, bowls, chess and games of strategy, ultimately invasion games, were also important for battle, politics and war. Others, like bat-fowling were more obscure. This was a sports practiced at dusk to catch bats but also as a reference to con men, who appearing to have dropped a valuable item, would ask the apprentice of a shop at about dusk to light a candle, whereupon when the apprentice’s back was turned would steal from the store. So bat–fowling was also a term for cheating. Flipping the toad was an even crueler form of blood sport practiced by young boys who would place the unsuspecting toad on a long plank of wood before using their cricket bat hit the other end to propel their victim to a spectacularly high, and ultimately fatal, final journey. Some of the richness of the language appearing in the plays is reflected in these terms.
The cycle route took us through some fantastic Warwickshire scenery in and around Stratford itself, and the villages of Charlecote, with its beautiful park and quaint village buildings. The run took us along the towpath where leisure cruises were perhaps bemused to see people working quite so hard in their Sunday morning leisure. Kelly finished in 1.13 and Jean 1.33, both of which they were happy with, considering the pool was quite so crowded. So, if you were thinking of challenging yourself with a triathlon, this is a very supportive and friendly way to complete a ‘bucket-list’ event. Why not #TriLikeMe? It is perhaps one of the most historic venues for a triathlon in the calendar and UK Triathlon is celebrating its 25th year so there’s no better time to sign up! Others like the Royal Windsor triathlon have been going for 29 years, so there’s something for all abilities.
As regular readers of the blog will be aware, jjheritage prides itself on being historians and project managers who take on new sporting challenges each year. Joanna and Jean have both run the London Marathon, and The Great North Run and Jean has swum a mile in the Great North Swim, in Lake Windermere as well as smaller challenges such as the Serpentine swim, covered in a previous blog post.
This year’s sporting challenge involves Jean, and her niece Kelly who ran the London Marathon last year, completing the Stratford Upon Avon Sprint Triathlon, on 19th May a 400m pool swim, 18 kilometre cycle and 5 kilometre run. In order to prepare for this, Jean and Kelly will take part in the Nuneaton Tri Club Aquathon on 5 May with a 400m pool swim and a 5k run. This will help us to practice our transitions between water and land.
Triathlon as a sport
The rise of triathlon comes off the back of the rise in running marathons, and it is interesting to note that more people have now run marathons in the last twenty years than at previous points in history, paradoxically because our lives are becoming more sedentary and we have the time and leisure in which to train, aided by better nutrition and training aids. Triathlon is defined as a three-discipline sports event containing swimming, cycling, and running. This is a continuous event without a rest. The triathlon can be an individual or team ‘relay’ event over varying distances. A relatively new innovation, triathlon developed as a way of providing challenging track training, back in the 1920s in France called variously ‘Les trois sports’, ‘La Course des Débrouillards’, and ‘La course des Touche à Tout.’ The first modern tri was hosted in 1974, at Mission Bay, San Diego, California, USA. The San Diego Track Club sponsored the event and the triathlon then comprised a 10 km run, 8 km cycle, and 500 m swim, with the first Ultra "Ironman" triathlon in Oahu, USA in 1978 (3.8 kilometer (2.4 mile) swim / 180.2 km (112 mi) bike / 42.2 km (26.2 mi) run).
In 1989, the International Triathlon Union (ITU) was founded in Avignon, France, and the first official world championships were held. The official distance for the triathlon was set at a 1500 m swim, a 40 km cycle, and a 10 km run—taken from existing events in each discipline already on the Olympic program. This standard distance is used for the ITU World Cup series and was also featured at the Sydney Olympic Games, when Triathlon was first featured, having been given International Olympic Committee recognition in 1989. Triathlon races are held over four distances, known as sprint, Olympic, long course, and ultra. There are also para-tri events and world championships. So how have Jean and Kelly been training?
Training for our first Triathlon
Realistically, Kelly will go for good time in the Sprint event and Jean will look just to complete the event. First of all we began eight weeks before the race, making sure that we were covering each of the individual distances that we would need to complete in the race and, where possible, going slightly beyond that distance. We have also used a technique called ‘brick’ training to prepare for the transition from cycling to running, when the legs can feel heavy because blood has been pumping to cycling muscles rather than running muscles so this has involved short transitional intervals of ten minutes running and ten minutes cycling. At this stage we wont have to worry about open water swimming, so the techniques for the pool mainly involve coping with race conditions and other competitors. Mainly, by swimming at race pace, we are focusing on keeping breathing and stroke smooth.
As Jean is not a very confident cyclist, buying her first new bike for 25 years to complete the event, we’ve benefitted from the Race Rapid Club’s use of Mallory Park circuit to cycle in a traffic free environment to put the miles in our legs which costs £5 each session. Race Rapid are also hosting a number of short Tri events on Wednesday evening in May in order to facilitate those who are new to the sport or want to hone their transitions the first being 15 May swim a 200m open water (lake), bike - 5 miles and run - 1.5 miles. Maybe those of you who live locally and want to try the sport will see us there?
Compared to the first London Marathon in 1981, where fewer than 300 of the 6,300 finishers were women, 44% of the 414,168 people who applied for the 2019 ballot applicants were female. There has been a general rise in marathon completions by first timers, as much as a first time ‘bucket list’ target, as amongst regular runners. It looks like triathlon is following that trend as it is estimated that 1% of the world population will now complete the distance. However, along with obstacle races such as Tough Mudder, and other endurance events this marks a general rise in experiential events and the shorter distances are a way of attracting the first time athlete. So we will check in with you after 19 May to let you know how we got on in Stratford Upon Avon.
The whole point of fashion is to make fashionable clothes available to everyone.
Fashion is a tool to compete in life outside the home.
Introduction – Quant and ‘the Chelsea Set’
Barbara Mary Quant was born 11 February 1930 in Blackheath, London, and grew up there along with her younger brother Tony. Her parents were both Welsh and had distinguished careers as teachers, however they refused to let her study fashion, so Quant graduated from an illustration course at Goldsmiths. There she met aristocrat Alexander Plunket Greene, whom she married in 1957. Mary obtained a diploma in art education, and began an apprenticeship at a high-end milliner, Erik of Brook Street.
In 1955, Plunket Greene purchased Markham House on the King's Road in Chelsea, London, an area frequented by the 'Chelsea Set' comprising artists, film directors and socialites. Quant, Plunket Greene and their friend, Archie McNair, opened a basement restaurant Alexander's. McNair already owned a fashionable coffee shop called, somewhat exotically, The Fantasie.
They also opened a boutique Bazaar on the ground floor. Quant concentrated on design and fashion, Plunket Greene had entrepreneurial and marketing skills, and lawyer McNair, who was also a keen photographer, brought legal and business sense to the brand. In 1957 they opened the second Bazaar designed by Terence Conran, right opposite Harrods. Self-taught and taking cutting and other evening classes Mary moved to make her own designs, affordable for everyday working women and in new styles and fabrics. Although she became famous for the Mini Skirt, Hotpants and simple clean lines, few people are aware how influenced Quant was by sport in her designs.
Quant and Sportswear
One of the ways that Quant was influenced by sportswear was her research into Victorian clothing, and the way that she incorporated nineteenth century references into contemporary fashion. In 1961, for instance, she launched a knickerbocker set, modelled by Melanie Hampshire, that referenced women’s nineteenth century bathing-wear. This was somewhat frivolous and fun compared with the matching separates that defined Quant’s style, to be worn for work, or recreation, and so marks an obvious point of departure into leisurewear. The Norfolk jacket, a Victorian sportsjacket, also influenced her structured and boxy style of suit.
This developed across the brand, with its distinctive dairy symbol, as Quant went on to design underwear, outerwear, shoes and accessories, homewear and even toys and clothing for toys. One of the really clever elements of the brand, as it moved into global markets in the 1960s, was the the consumer could buy the whole Quant look for personal wear and the home. Extending into the US and then globally, it was estimated that seven million women had at least one of her products in their wardrobe by 1970, and thousands wore her 'Daisy'-badged cosmetics range, or the cheaper diffusion brand The Ginger Group.
1966 The OBE Dress
When Quant was awarded an OBE on 15 November 1966, the year that England won the world cup on home soil, she chose to design her own dress to wear to the Palace, and in a way that played with protocol, she chose a dress made out of cream wool jersey fabric, a textile popularized by sport. The dress lacked the formal structure of haute couture and was deliberately youthful in its style, with a miniskirt length. The dress made a feature out of functional modernistic details, like trademark circular zip-pulls, and contrast stitching. Topped with a bonded jersey beret and court shoes, this simple outfit became a signature style. Cleverly, even if young women could not afford the Quant head-to-toe look, or could not meet the expense of visiting London, they could buy Buttericks patterns and try to make their own clothes in the Quant style at home.
The Football Dress
Said to be influenced less by the shock of the new and more by the shock of the knee, Quant specifically referenced the popularity of England’s 1966 victory and football more generally with The Football Dress. Worn with characteristic matching tights, this red jersey dress with cream trimming was perhaps to be worn after the match, rather than on the terraces while supporting. Modelled as an androgynous style, with a pixie style haircut, this was one of many Quant designs to incorporate stripes, contrasts and features taken from sportswear. For instance the neck trim, with three contrasting buttons looked like some football shirts of the era. The comfortable silhouette encouraged freedom of movement. This extended to tracksuits to be worn for leisure, and not intended for sport at all.
The whole point of Quant’s designs were that they encouraged young women not to dress like their mothers, but to express themselves. Although the colours and cut can look a little dated today, this is a very contemporary message. There were formal wear garments and more experimental pieces but the mix and match separates dominated the exhibition. This is not on such a grand scale as the Dior exhibition reviewed earlier, but perhaps that is appropriate as the topic is how Quant changed every day dressing for young people. In 1990 she was awarded the prestigious Hall of Fame Award by the British Fashion Council. Awarded a DBE in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to British fashion, Dame Mary Quant has also been immortalized by, amongst others, artist Sir Peter Blake, to appear in a new version of his most famous artwork, the Beatles Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover, to celebrate British cultural figures. Well worth a trip, the exhibition has particularly features about modernity, youth, empowerment and how fashion labels became larger international brands.
Way back in December 2016, soon after jjheritage had been launched as a company, Jean was invited to a workshop at the National Football Museum, (NFM) in Manchester concerning Football’s Public Monuments. This was part of a four year project ‘The Art of Collecting Football’ led by academic input from Professor Mike O’Mahony of Bristol University and supported by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £199,900. The project sought to develop the NFM art collection through the acquisition of priority works that have been 1. inspired by or 2. depicting football and its wider cultural influence.
This chimed with jjheritage’s interest in the World Cup as a cultural event and, more specifically, the history of world cup posters, mascots and trademarks. Jean has now published a chapter, with a specific on the 1966 World Cup in England and how this changed the marketing strategy of future World Cup tournaments, in an edited collection led by Daniel Haxall called Picturing the Beautiful Game (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018).
Much of the research for that chapter took place at the world-class stores of the National Football Museum in Preston and in the Zurich archives of FIFA. But with the launch of a new exhibition, Football is Art, in 2019 we can now see the culmination of this project, and Jean attended the preview event on 4 April 2019. The preview suggests that this will be incredibly popular with the National Football Museum’s public and could reach out to people who do not necessarily feel themselves to be football fans and prefer art galleries.
The FA and Arts Council Football and Fine Art competition of 1953
L.S. Lowry's now-iconic Going To The Match won the inaugural Football And Fine Arts competition, held jointly by The FA and the newly-formed Arts Council in 1953. This was purchased in 1999 by the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) for £1.9 million, after it was reportedly declined by David Beckham because Victoria expressed her distate at the painting.
At the time the price was a record for a Lowry, and the highest paid for a British artist, according to Sotheby’s auction house. This was exhibited to mark the PFA’s centenary in 2008 at Manchester Art Gallery but has otherwise been on display at The Lowry along with other PFA purchases.
So although the National Football Museum exhibition cannot display the winner, the FA and Arts Council collaboration was an unprecedented focal moment in seeking to encourage new fine art about football, and many other contemporary artists who sent in work in 1953 are represented.
Existing Works and New Acquisitions
The Football is Art exhibition was a mix of new acquisitions and existing works owned by the NFM, ranging from Aardman animation house, to Banksy, and a £40,000 sculpture Footballeur by Pablo Picasso, who was famously a Barcelona fan in the 1960s before moving to Paris. Equally proud of his heritage, Bradford-born David Hockney, featured football in many of his paintings and is also represented. L.S. Lowry, Joan Miró, Paul Nash also feature, as do posters, sculpture, fashion, multi media collages and Batik work. Contemporary artists and illustrators feature strongly in the exhibition including Michael J. Browne, Stanley Chow, Jill Iliffe and Marcus Marritt. Gary Armer, who has previously been an artist in residence at the museum, was represented by Not a Penny More featuring in the ‘Despair’ section, a portrait of a dejected Blackpool FC supporter under the Oyston family regime.
Perhaps the finest work on display is a recent acquisition, Mid-week practice at Stamford Bridge by Lawrence Toynbee, originally submitted as part of the Football and the Fine Arts exhibition in 1953, where it won one of the main prizes alongside Lowry’s Going to the Match. Another standout piece of the exhibition was Jean Cocteau’s disarmingly simple line drawing Football Annonciation, 1923.
The National Football Museum already owned influential British surrealist Ithell Colquhoun's The Game Of The Year, created in 1953. The title probably refers to the Blackpool vs Bolton Wanderers FA Cup Final, but there is no record of the painting being entered into the FA art competition.
Gerald A. Cains' Saturday Taxpayers was entered into the 1953 competition. The oil on canvas painting of crowds relaxedly filling a stand was entered just before the competitions closed, after the picture apparently came to the artist in a dream about his local team Portsmouth. He was the youngest artist to enter, aged just 22.
The title refers to the fact that Entertainment Tax had first been levied on professional football since 1916 as a wartime measure and were still in place, although protests had taken place. Hence, perhaps, the tone of reflective anticipation.
And the art on display at the NFM is not limited to the exhibition. Pieces on display in the main galleries include leading contemporary artists, including Michael J. Browne known for The Art of the Game 1997 and other subsequent large scale and high profile projects, including The Transfiguration of George Best 2008.
The Art of the Game is one of jjheritage’s favourite painting in the wealth of treasures available at The National Football Museum.
Football-related public art
The December 2016 workshop on public monuments set their relatively recent rise as a widespread phenomenon in this historical context, not least thanks to the groundbreaking work of Chris Stride, Ffion Thomas, and John Wilson and their comprehensive database From Pitch to Plinth: Sporting Statues Project (for more information on the project see www.offbeat.group.shef.ac.uk/statues). As public confidence in politicians and other figures historically commemorated by public statuary, sports stars have more recently been commemorated due to public fundraising, and civic projects. These works are, by their very nature, outside of the walls of institutions such as the National Football Museum, and in the public domain at specific sites of memorialization. So that workshop could lead to more of a focus on sporting statuary, and the process of making such art.
Football as an inherently visual sport
Since football is an inherently visual medium, the opportunities for amplifying the project and the exhibition are almost infinitely variable. Just as Jean’s own work on football posters is now developing to look at regional representations and to the unsuccessful World Cup posters and competitions, the theme of football and art is likely to grow as a specialism across a number of sectors.
Looking to the future, Jean had a go at the @tiltbrush Virtual Reality in the Score Gallery, and enjoyed the different features of the digital creation with its many options, including DISCO which sends pulses of light along the lines drawn by the operator. Great fun! #FootballisArt
"There is no other country in the world, besides my own, whose way of life I like so much. I love English traditions, English politeness, English architecture. I even love English cooking." Christian Dior
Spanning Christian Dior’s life and work from 1947 to the present, this is the most recent exhibition to focus on couturiers and fashion designers, exploring the enduring influence of the fashion house, and particularly relationship with Britain. Clearly an anglophile, from the quotation above, Dior was one of a number of designers to sell glamour as an aspirational concept for men and women, hence the subtitle ‘designer of dreams.’ Situated in the light-filled Sainsbury Gallery at the V&A, this is one of a long line of very impressive exhibitions to feature fashion and couture, including The Supremes, image and identity, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty and David Bowie Is amongst the standout shows.
The exhibition begins with Christian Dior’s early life. Christian Dior was born in 1905 in Granville, on the coast of Normandy, France. The second of five children, Christian was about five years old, when the family moved to Paris, returning to the Normandy in the summer. Christian’s father Maurice Dior, was a wealthy fertilizer manufacturer (the family firm was Dior Frères), and his wife, Madeleine inspired Christian’s interest in couture, as well as a love of gardens and aesthetics. By 1928, his parents had relented their original plan to require Christian to train as a diplomat and he had established a small art gallery. But, personal tragedy, in the forms of the death of his mother and brother, coincided with the Great Depression and Maurice lost control of his business and the gallery had to close. In 1937 Christian Dior became an employee and protégé of Robert Piguet, and remained there until called up for active service in World War Two. Dior left active service in 1942 and worked in Paris for Lucien Lelong, until 1946 when he established his own fashion house.
The New Look
Influenced by the simplicity and clean lines of Robert Piguet’s work, and the more whimsical and romantic creations of Lucien Lelong, Dior launched his first collection in 1947, and it was called The New Look, a refreshing change from ration-book designs of World War Two. The look accentuated the waist, using tulle to flare out skirts and shoulder designs that created an hourglass structured figure. Though the amount of fabric seemed excessive, the overall effect was of luxury and elegance, and, just when the two young British princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, were becoming the world’s media most popular subjects, Margaret in particular began to champion Dior’s designs. Often referencing his mother’s interest in gardens and flora, subsequent collections became even more elaborate, using the finest fabrics, designs and accessories. Along with Royal support, and patronage from socialites, Dior designed for the film industry and the big screen made his clothing aspirational for those who could not afford them. He was, for instance, the exclusive designer of Marlene Dietrich's dresses in the Alfred Hitchcock film Stage Fright. This meant that the US market became the second most important source of income for the company. However, the British influence was as important for the glamour of the brand. In honour of Princess Margaret and the Duchess of Marlborough, a Dior fashion show was held at the Blenheim Palace in 1954, and Christian Dior Models Limited was created in London in 1952.
A Luxury Global Brand
Hence the diversification into perfumes in 1947, makeup, accessories, and a more realistic chance of buying a piece of what became known as Diorama. Opening in New York in 1949, and less successfully in Australia soon after, licensing branded goods enabled the company to export more widely. This extended to a kaleidoscopic range of kitsch, personal grooming and ornamental items including hosiery, furs, hats, gloves, scarves, handbags, jewellery, and lingerie. However, Christian Dior died suddenly of a heart attack whilst on holiday in 1957 in Italy. In some senses then, the main element of the exhibition is Dior’s legacy, as the fashion house that bore his name continued to grow, diversify and internationalise.
Conclusion: Dior’s Legacy
Dior currently designs and retails leather goods, fashion accessories, footwear, jewellery, watches, fragrance, makeup, and skin care products globally, while also maintaining its brands of cutting edge haute-couture, for men and women. In the 1950s, the house was headed by Dior’s first, and only, head assistant, Yves Saint-Laurent, who was just twenty-one when he became Artistic Director. Marc Bohan succeeded Saint-Laurent in 1960, instilling his conservative style on the collections until eventually replaced by Gianfranco Ferré in 1989, and then, more controversially John Galliano became Artistic Director in 1997. After his departure in 2011, Raf Simons, and Maria Grazia Chiuri have evolved the house design. So as well as creating a luxury brand, Dior provided a platform for some of the world’s most outstanding creative talents.
Images courtesy of the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York
People have always had to wear clothing that was dictated by their work, be it the agricultural worker whose garments had to protect them from the elements, or the monarch in ceremonial attire, designed to convey high status and good taste. But what about leisurewear? Historians of leisure often find the choices that people make when they are not at work, that is when they can choose to do in their own free time, more interesting than other topics. Choosing what is worn in leisure is part of that bigger topic. Some people like to look ‘sporty’ and the latest catwalk trends of the big brands have reflected what is now called Sports Luxe, as, for example trainers are now both available as highly collectible limited edition items, and branded by fashion’s big names and running to several hundred pounds per pair, for say Gucci, Valentino or McQueen. So popular are comfortable sports clothing trends now that many people wear outfits influenced by sports clothing. But how, historically did those trends come about?
Athletic wear and the nineteenth century
As more people moved into towns and cities, the growing middle class appropriated the rural clothing of aristocrats as part of a leisure look. More working class men relied upon moleskin trousers and Norfolk jackets. About town, wearing Tweeds was a way of embodying the landscape. Many of those who went to public schools wore caps and colours that they continued to promote as ‘Old Boys’. The bookish ‘aesthetic type’ looked very different from the athlete. The healthy body was a metaphor for good breeding, and embodied the figure of the athletic hero & chivalric codes.
Many of the newly codified sports, included a uniform and prescriptive regulations about what may and may not be worn, often adapted from the military. Club uniforms acted as sign of belonging and signified that the member was not part of the 'great unattached'. Eventually these club badges became brands and dressmakers and tailors realised they could multiply trade by becoming ‘club tailors’. By the 1890s a specialist ‘sports goods’ manufacturing industry had been mechanised and sold widely, and sports clothing became gradually worn as a sign that the person had leisure, even when not actively pursuing a particular sporting goal.
So even by the end of the nineteenth century, wearing tennis shoes in the street had become an indicator of a fashionable and modern outlook, a statement that the person could afford more than one pair of shoes, and liked a generally less formal approach to dress. These trends would accelerate across the twentieth century as sport and leisure became more widely available, and the Norfolk jacket would become a sports jacket, and, for women, hemlines gradually rose in line with the freedom to move.
Images courtesy of the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York
Sportswear and Heritage Brands
What few people realize today, even when wearing the sporting heritage brands that are associated with Britain, is that many began to trade as a result of that most British of conversation pieces: what to wear to cope with the British weather? Many British clothing and sports brands began to diversify in tailor-made designs at the luxury end of the market and selling cheaper ready-to wear to the expanding middle classes. After trade-marking a shower-proof textile in 1853, the company of John Emery became ‘Aqua-scutum’, the Latin for water- shield, following which its wrappers and coats became modish for the urban elite but also for field sports and angling. Thomas Burberry formed his eponymous company as a 21-year-old Hampshire tailor in 1856, launching a stylish gabardine fabric in 1880 and registering his brand logo as a trademark in 1900. Slazenger began to trade as a rainwear business in Manchester in 1881, moved to London, and trademarked its lawn tennis rackets and balls, which gained added international status by becoming standard equipment at Wimbledon championships. Pringle of Scotland, formed by Robert Pringle in 1815 as a hosiery and underwear manufacturer, moved into cashmere in the 1870s and became the celebrity golf-wear of choice from then on.
The British were by no means alone. In France, the Hermès fashion house was founded as a harness shop by an innkeeper’s son, Thierry Hermès, who hand-sewed equestrian products using two needles working in tensile resistance to create a saddle stitch that was virtually indestructible. This technological advance created an elite following, including Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and Napoleon III, who commissioned bespoke saddles and harnesses. Twentieth-century style icons such as Jackie Onassis went on to make the Hermès Constance bag part of an haute couture wardrobe.
Hermès brand heritage as a manufacturer of sporting and luxury goods is signalled both in the production of custom-made saddles and related sporting goods (ranging from £4,000 upwards) to silk scarves that Queen Elizabeth II has favoured since a young woman. The Galop Chromatique, the monarch’s preferred style of scarf, currently retails at £280. Watches, perfumes, goods for the home and other brand diversification still bear the tagline ‘A Sporting Life!’.
Although the scale and range of Sports Luxe now encompasses several heritage brands and a range of price points, there are long historical precedents and many brands began with technological innovations that improved the leisure experience of the wearer. We are used to such innovations and expect both our work and leisure wear, as well as high performance sporting goods to help our performance whether worn in formal or informal situations. Enjoy your kit!
BBC 2 is launching Icons, its most ambitious search for the greatest person of the 20th Century, in January 2019. The series will be promoted via various platforms, including across the BBC, TV, radio and online. The series will also feature on The One Show, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 3 and Radio 5 live. In addition BBC local radio will be highlighting the connections that the icons have had around the UK, and inviting audiences to vote for their favourite icon in the most ambitious BBC history series in over a decade. Made by 72 Films, co-produced with The Open University, for BBC Two and in connection with the National Portrait Gallery online for free. For more information, visit https://www.npg.org.uk. If you would like to get involved, more voting information can be found at: www.bbc.co.uk/icons.
The Series Format of Icons
Across seven episodes, celebrity advocates will celebrate the achievements of twenty eight of the greatest figures of the 20th Century, from seven different categories of human excellence. Each celebrity advocate will guide viewers through hour-long episodes dedicated to four shortlisted Icons in each category. Voting begins at the end of each programme, at 10pm, and is open until 4pm the next day. More voting information can be found at: www.bbc.co.uk/icons Then the grand live final will decide the favourite icons by public vote.
Leaders Tuesday 8 January 2019
Winston Churchill, Franklin D Roosevelt, Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela
Presented by Sir Trevor McDonald
Explorers 9 January 2019
Ernest Shackleton, Gertrude Bell, Neil Armstrong and Jane Goodall
Presented by Dermot O’Leary
The finalists from Leaders and Explorers will be revealed on Thursday 10 January 2019 live on The One Show (BBC One, 19-19.30pm).
Scientists 14 January 2019
Marie Curie, Alan Turing, Albert Einstein and Tu Youyou
Presented by Chris Packham
Entertainers 15 January 2019
Charlie Chaplin, Billie Holiday, Marilyn Monroe, David Bowie
Presented by Kathleen Turner
The finalists from Scientists and Entertainers will be revealed on Wednesday 16 January live on The One Show (BBC One, 19-19.30pm).
Emmeline Pankhurst, Mahatma Gandhi, Helen Keller and Martin Luther King Jr
Presented by Sanjeev Bhaskar
Muhammad Ali, Pelé, Billie Jean King and Tanni Grey-Thompson
Presented by Clare Balding
The finalists from Activists and Sports Stars will be revealed on Wednesday 23 January live on The One Show (BBC One, 19-19.30pm).
Artists & writers
Virginia Woolf, Pablo Picasso, Alfred Hitchcock and Andy Warhol
Presented by Lily Cole
The finalist from Artists & Writers will be revealed on Wednesday 30 January live on The One Show (BBC One, 19-19.30pm).
The Grand Live Final
Tuesday 5 February O2 London
What makes a great sporting Icon? One debate we had during the shortlisting was the effect an individual had at the time and the legacy that that they had long afterwards. So for us, at jjheritage, a sportsperson can be great, but not necessarily Iconic. Take the first great female all-rounder Lottie Dod, born in 1871, who first won Wimbledon aged fifteen in 1887, then again in 1888, then three times in a row 1891, 1892, 1893 before retiring due to not wanting to be seen as a ‘trophy hunter’. Dod won the British Ladies Amateur golf championship in 1904, also representing her country in field hockey and won a silver medal at the 1908 London Olympic Games, with her brother taking a gold medal. She also excelled in several Winter sports, particularly figure skating, also becoming proficient in mountaineering and extended cycling tours through Europe. But although undoubtedly a British sporting great, Dod competed as an amateur, and, although pioneering several aspects of training (such as playing against top men of her day), clothing (shorter skirts and more practical dress) and administration, ultimately she player sport to please herself. What you will see from the Icons we as a panel selected across the twentieth century, Muhammad Ali, Pelé, Billie Jean King and Tanni Grey-Thompson, is that they have had a much broader effect on society, internationally, and that sets them apart even from the sporting greats.
The Changing Face of British Motor Sport Museums: Donington Park Museum Closes and The Silverstone Experience launches in 2018
The newly launched £18.2 million The Silverstone Experience (TSE) will open its doors in 2019 at the entrance to the circuit, with commanding views from the café area over the infield, as well as parts of the circuit. With half the funds provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the dedicated museum and archive spaces in a refurbished World War Two aircraft hangar, will aim to ensure that the heritage of Silverstone and post-war British motor racing is interpreted for today’s public as well as protected for future generations.
The Silverstone Experience aims to use contemporary history and sports heritage, particularly to inspire young people into Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine, or STEMM subjects, by celebrating the circuit and the country’s position at the heart of the global motor sport industry and tickets are now on sale for 2019. Donington Park Racing Circuit is also a complex site with a rich and diverse history of settlement and use from pre-historic times to the present day, encompassing both tangible and intangible heritage values. The geology, topography and landscape have played an important role in shaping and influencing the use of the site. Some of which can be still evidenced at the site today. However, one of the major challenges for motor racing circuits is how to combine scheduling for important motorcycle, sports car, classic car and cycling events. Most days of the year, the circuit is in use in some form and operates very much as a year-round business, even while races and big events might total 60 days annually.
It is worth saying here that Silverstone was by no means the first, or the only, British motor racing circuit to host Grand Prix or Formula One races, and its transition to become a motor sport circuit after World War Two was by no means assured. Firstly, the most important British circuit at the start of the twentieth century was Brooklands, which was inaugurated privately by Ethel and Hugh Locke-King in 1907, and operated as the locus of fashionable British motor sport until 1939. Always associated as much with aviation as with other forms of motor sport, Brooklands took its cues from horse racing, was considered an ‘Ascot of Automobilism’ and racing an elite social context. The first British Grand Prix motor race was established at Brooklands in 1926 and held again in 1927.
Located in Leicestershire, near to the town of Castle Donington and East Midlands Airport, the land on which the circuit sits, was originally part of the Donington Hall estate. The circuit was created by Derby motor-cyclist and garage-owner Fred Craner as a park circuit, whereas Brooklands had been part of a farmed estate. Craner inaugurated motorcycle races during the early part of 1931 and, following improvements to the track in 1933, the circuit became particularly famous in the remaining years before the Second World War. Following the inauguration of car racing earlier that year, the first Donington Park Trophy 20-lap race was held on 7 October 1933, and won by the Earl Howe in a Bugatti. But the British were about 17 seconds a lap slower than their rivals in future events.
The famous Silver Arrows, the German Mercedes and Auto Union Grand Prix cars between 1934 and 1939, raced at Donington. This controversy again helped to publicise the circuit. Although the naming of the cars as Silver Arrows is itself a contested story, the machines themselves were part of a racing program that was German-government subsidized and consequently faster, better financed, technologically more advanced and reliable than other marques. Each country had a racing colour before the cars were numbered, and whereas German automobiles had previously been white, the silver cars raced against British vehicles with a green livery, blue French machines and red Italian coupés.
Even more outrageous, as far as his mother was concerned, there was a British driver in the German cars, and Richard ‘Dick’ Seaman would go on to become one of Hitler’s favourite drivers, winning the German Grand Prix in 1938, and racing also at Donington in what was considered to be his home Grand Prix however, some consider the Donington Grand Prix of 1937 and 1938 non-championship races. Seaman died while racing in 1939, and a memorial to him remains on site at Donington, so there are many overlapping controversies from this period to unpick!
After World War Two, Donington Park circuit fell into disrepair, as it had been used as a military vehicle depot. Tom Wheatcroft, a local entrepreneur and vehicle collector, invested first in the motor museum, which largely consisted of his collection and opened in 1973, and then for racing in 1977. Although there were many motor sport innovations, from motor cross events, rallying, festivals of motor sport and truck racing, the circuit failed ultimately to expand sufficiently to attract Formula One racing permanently, in the twenty first century, although the 1993 European Grand Prix, won in heavy rain by Ayrton Senna with Damon Hill second, has been described as the ‘Drive of the Decade.’ Again, there is a memorial to Senna outside the Donington collection. Following some legal issues over leasehold and rent, the circuit was sold in 2017 to Jonathan Palmer’s Motor Sport Vision, which owns several other circuits and the museum closed on 5 November 2018. As well as an extensive collection of Formula One and Grand Prix cars, the collection had a wide range of ephemera and other vehicles, as can be seen from this web archived page.
Although the Wheatcroft collection on which the Donington heritage visitor attraction was based, was an individual’s passion, The Silverstone Experience will house and protect the archive of the British Racing Driver’s Club (BRDC) in a purpose built facility, as well as engaging the next generation of STEMM students. This is arguably a nationally significant collection since 1928, and so preservation and conservation an important part of the future. Although it was sad to see the Donington collection close its doors, there are considerable signs for optimism around motor sport heritage, with Heritage Lottery Fund grants supporting technological innovation at Brooklands and newly developed museums dedicated to British drivers, such as Jim Clark. There are also extensive sporting collections at both the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, as well as the National Motor Cycle Museum in Solihull, and Coventry Transport Museum.
Sporting Reunions, and Contemporary Museum Collections: Case Studies of Manchester Corinthians, formed 1949 and Harry Batt’s ’71 England Team
Having been selected as the academic lead to The National Football Museum to assist with the purchase of the 25,000 item Chris Ungar collection of women’s football memorabilia, Jean Williams has subsequently been working with the museum to interpret the collection. A key issue arising out of what is now undoubtedly the most important global collection of women’s football items, dating back to 1869, was the need to develop contemporary collections for future use. As a direct result, Prof Williams and the National Football Museum held a reunion of women football players, over 2 days on 30 September and 1 October 2018 to mark National Sporting Heritage day.
The initiative sought out those active before 1993 when the FA formally took control of women’s football, and one of the key teams to be reunited was Harry Batt’s England team who represented their country, albeit unofficially, at the Women’s World Cup in Mexico in 1971. There were also important England players who attended, including Captain Gill Coultard, who has 119 caps, and Kerry Davies who scored 44 goals in 80 England games. Many of the Manchester Corinthians FC team attended, whose eldest member at the reunion was 84 years of age and had been part of the founding of the club in 1949. Of course this wider reunion will be the focus of future work. However, the focus of this blog is firstly, the Manchester Corinthians FC and secondly, the unofficial England women’s team to represent the country at the Mexico 1971 Women’s World Cup.
The Manchester Corinthians team 1949
The Corinthian Ladies were founded in 1949 by Percy Ashley, with the intention to provide his daughter, Doris, with the opportunity to play football. The name was chosen to reflect the amateur Corinthian values that had preceded professionalism. Accordingly, the team was made up of career women, from typists to machinists.
Gladys Aiken took charge of the team in the late 1960s, and kept a series of scrapbooks to trace the journey of the Corinthians. This gives an insight into women managing their own teams, well before it was conventional for women to work in the football industry. Interestingly Pat Dunn was also allowed to referee an international match in 1969. Pat would later travel to the unofficial World Cup with Harry Batt’s team as a chaperone and trainer.
The Corinthians were aged between 13 and 40 years of age, and often played against their second team, the Nomads, eventually forming a third team, the Allstars, as well. The team trained at Fog Lane Park in Didsbury every Sunday, whatever the weather. There are snapshots of them trailing buckets of water to the changing rooms nearby as there was no running hot water. After tours of South America, Europe and North Africa, the team eventually raised over £275,000 for charity, mostly the Red Cross and Oxfam.
The players also confirmed the stories of Bert Trautmann acting as official interpreter for the Manchester Corinthians team who, representing England, won a tournament held in Germany in 1957 and provided their snapshots of him. Some players donated shirts, memorabilia and so on to the museum.
The Organisation of the Unofficial Women’s World Cups of 1970 and 1971
Held out side the auspices of FIFA only one year after Mexico hosted the men’s world cup, this was a key moment in the history of women’s football because it proved a large commercial market for women-only tournaments. This built upon a successful Women’s World Championship in Italy in 1970. The opening games were played in front of crowds of 80,000 people. England played in group 1 against the hosts Mexico and Argentina. Group 2 comprised France, Italy, and Denmark. Using the memories of players at the reunion, some as young as thirteen, the discussion argues that, because of the historic marginalization of women in written documentation in sporting archives, social strategies, such as reunions, combined with oral history research and social media connectivity can help to develop contemporary collections policies in museums and heritage offers.
After the Italy unofficial women’s world cup of 1970, a two-day conference, on 5th and 6th December 1970, in the Ambassador’s Hotel Torino, Italy, convened the first world congress of the International Federation of Femenin Football (FIFF).
Following the use of a mascot, World Cup Willie, in a world cup for the first time in the men’s world Cup in England 1966, thereafter, sporting tournaments of all kinds used a mascot to promote their event, including unofficially at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble. However, Mexico played a key role in promoting mascots as emblems of various tournaments: there was an unofficial dove and jaguar mascot at the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games, and Juanito for the FIFA men’s World Cup tournament of 1970. The mascot for the unofficial women's world cup in 1971 was Xochitel, the flower.
Photograph courtesy of Leah Caleb taken in the Aztec Stadium a few days before the start of the tournament, showing some sun damage.
Individuals from Left to Right:
Back row: Keith Batt (Mascot), June Batt (Assistant Manager), Players - Marlene Collins, Lilian Harris (GK) Evonne Farr, Jean Breckon, Carol Wilson (Capt), Christine Lockwood, Jill Stockley, Pat Dunn (Trainer & Chaperone), Harry Batt (Manager)
Front Row: Valerie Cheshire, Louise Cross, Gillian Sayell, Paula Rayner, Janice Barton, Trudy McCaffery, Leah Caleb
The England ’71 team
When the team departed for Mexico on Thursday 5th August 1971, there was no direct flight so they went via London – New York – Mexico City. Christine Lockwood, who was fifteen years old at the time remembered the engine of the plane from New York catching fire and returning to land before repairs enabled the team to continue. The team did not return until Tuesday 7th September 1971 from Mexico City via Paris to London. Since most of the players had not been on a plane before, this must have been a very exciting time! Though they were not so successful on the pitch. Television cameras, media coverage and large crowds. The stories are just emerging and more research is to follow.
We concluded the two days of reunion with a civic reception at the Lord Mayor’s suite in Manchester. Here we toasted the success of the players, their fortitude and their friendship. We were also treated to a song often used by the Manchester Corinthians.
Please, if you have any more details of women players from the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s do get in touch.
In her short life, the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, (6 July 1907 – 13 July 1954) became world famous in her own right. The V&A exhibition, Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up takes the artist’s fashioning of her own image as its starting point and shows how Kahlo’s autobiographical work could blend realism, folk art and surrealism in its stylistic references. Kahlo was fiercely independent from a young age, and seemingly fearless in her work, although her private letters, of which there were few on display in the exhibition, give a different view of her life.
After overcoming childhood polio, and a catastrophic accident in 1925 that would see her endure 32 surgeries, and many more surgical procedures, in 1929 she married Diego Rivera. Of the relationship, Kahlo is said to have reported to a friend: ‘I have suffered two serious accidents in my life, one in which a streetcar ran over me….the other accident was Diego.’ When they married, he was 42, had already been married twice and had four children, and she was 22 years of age. The recent V&A exhibition, curated by Circa Henestrosa and Claire Wilcox, presents an extraordinary collection of personal artifacts, paintings and clothing, plus a few key works. When Kahlo died, Rivera, whom she had married twice by then, insisted that her collections be locked away for 50 years in a bathroom/ storeroom after her death, so this exhibition has never before been seen outside Mexico.
Kahlo and the Gaze
In many of her small, intense, and painfully celebratory autobiographical paintings Frida Kahlo looks out at us, while we look at aspects of her, and her life. Is she watching us, are we watching her or is the gaze mutual? For an artist who painted her own image so regularly, and forensically, Kahlo makes herself much less attractive in her painted work than she was in life. With her prominent monobrow, downy moustache, and contorted, sometimes smashed, body we are encouraged to see the beauty in the humanity, not an idealized self-image. Compare the paintings with the photographs and we can see that from the many images taken of her as a child by her father that she was a compelling, mysterious, and fearless subject for the camera. As an artist, Kahlo is therefore using the painted media to tell us about her interior life, and her image is a metamorphosis, open to constant reinterpretation. It is a subject about which we have been fascinated for some time.
In 2005 jjheritage was fortunate enough to travel to Mexico City through work and to visit Museo Casa Azul, Kahlo’s birthplace and final residence, in the quiet residential area of Coyoacán in Mexico City. The Museo Casa Azul has been opened as a museum since 1957, the year of Rivera’s death. It remains today between similar still-private homes built around the turn of the 20th century.
Close by in Coyoacán, is the Museo Casa de León Trotsky where he was assassinated with an ice pick, and remains a major tourist draw, with his bathrobe still on the hook where he left it. Trotsky and Kahlo were said to have been lovers and, both she and Rivera had multiple relationships outside marriage. Their houses were centres for artists, intellectuals and political thinkers and the couple were Communists; housing Trotsky for two years before he had his own home. Kahlo was also bisexual and her female relationships were reflected in paintings, photographs, fine and folk art.
Finally, while in Mexico City jjheritage was able to visit the first marital home of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, the House-Studio Museum, in San Angel. Designed by the couple’s friend, the architect and artist Juan O’Gorman, it is actually two house-studios joined by a bridge. When the couple divorced in 1939, Kahlo moved back to the Blue House. When she and Rivera remarried, he moved to join her there, though he kept the San Angel studios to work.
Exhibition Methodology: Frida Kahlo and her personal effects
The premise of the exhibition is to showcase Kahlo’s artistic output, heavily contextualized by everyday objects such as her clothes, accessories, many medicines, surgical corsets, and even the prosthetic leg she embellished after her leg was amputated shortly before her death. Is this the correct methodology, rather than focusing primarily on her art? There are obvious benefits in that visitors can observe how indomitable a human spirit informed the art-works. As is demonstrated by the part of the exhibition that focuses on the medical treatments Kahlo endured, which is set out on white beds, in place of exhibition displays, it would have been very easy to have been overwhelmed by pain, suffering, and depression. Kahlo’s diary and letters contain some of her doubt, fear, and despair such as her need to have an abortion due to medical complications and a miscarriage that was almost fatal. She was to live and die without her own children, and the contrast with Rivera haunted her. But we can see this in the paintings. Where these objects complement the art works, for those who are familiar with them, is the impulse to be creative from small paper dolls to elaborate hairdressing, using scarves and flowers. Such is the variety of artifacts, that it seems almost that Kahlo is compelled to create.
My reservation about the artifact-heavy exhibition is that, for those who are not familiar with the work, the life becomes primary to the art. We know that Rivera was much more famous in his life, as a leading force in the Mexican Muralist movement, using large scale work to make political points about social equality. By making Kahlo’s artwork secondary to her own life, her own wider political purpose becomes perhaps undermined to the commercial exploitation of her image. Certainly, the array of merchandise in the V&A gift shop indicates that Kahlo’s wider social message has become personalized, individualized and, ultimately, less impactful. It is to be hoped an exhibition of her paintings follows in the UK soon and that it tells of her concern to shape, and influence wider society through embracing both traditional folk identity and modern political thought, rather than to focus solely on her own history and heritage.
Posts written by Jean or Joanna.