Kaffe Fassett: A Life in Colour

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Kaffe Fassett, says Wikipedia, rhymes with safe asset. That settles it. Kafe. I was wrong. It's not Kaff-ee.

Still. The activity sheet made up for my disappointment.

I met up with the lovely Miriam and went to see the Fashion and Textile Museum exhibition on Kaffe Fassett: A life in Colour.

It was ... interesting. You walk through four galleries of Kaffe-displays, from photographs and early still life paintings and drawings from his youth, to later quilts and knitting. Blocks. Stripes. Cave Paintings. Yarn. Mosaics. Ribbons. Diamonds. RED. Smelly pamphlet at the door. Phoo.

The galleries are small - much smaller than I thought they would be - but there is a good display of ideas. After walking through them all, you get to a TV which loops two documentaries on Kaffe's work and life. I wish they had put these first, as they gave quite a brilliant insight into his style and objectives. I had to revisit some of the works to understand them better and appreciate them in a new light.

We both really enjoyed this particular display; I like his love of vegetables. I enjoy the way that the ordinary is made into the extraordinary by immortalising them in stitches. An artichoke. A beetroot. A footstool that nobody would ever put their feet on. We were told not to touch.

I was limited to my phone camera, so everything is a bit blurry, but I found plenty of blocky inspiration in these captured moments. I really really like that footstool. The quilt is lovely in an unexpectedly low volume way. Cumulative cushions, like puffy clouds of colour. A great display. 

I like the repetitive patterning in his quilting; the way that the colours melt into each other, or are stacked up against each other in defiant but accepting geometry. The colours are warm. Some of his new colours are surprisingly bright, the patterns aren't quite distinct, and it's like a cacophony of tones. It reminds me of a joke my grandfather, a jazz musician, once told us over a family dinner; what is jazz? it's what happens when a blues band falls down the stairs.

The exhibition costs £8.00. It's on until the 29th of June, 2013.

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