Sustainable fashion and aboriginal memorial poles in London

Feeling tired, waking to rain and having to do a major diversion to get to the station due to over-running road works was not a good start to the day. However, my train was on time and when I got to London the rain had stopped but only recently, there was water everywhere on the roads and pavements. I had a couple of hours work to do in Chancery Lane so wandered in that direction through Bloomsbury and down to High Holborn. On the way I popped into Waterstones to see if I could see anything that interested me in the second hand, remainder and antiquarian sections but nothing did. By the time I had got to High Holborn it was pouring with rain again so I was very happy to get the chance to go inside away from it when I found the UAL ‘Voices for Change’ exhibition. There was a display of the use of bamboo as a textile and how this is harvested, processed and made into clothing in various parts of the world and several examples of students’ work including this dress with a sphagnum moss collar and this woollen top:

Dress with Sphagnum moss collar UAL (1 of 1)

Woollen Dress UAL (1 of 1)

It was dry by the time I left Chancery Lane so I headed for the British Museum, looking in a few bookshops on the way. It is obviously now school trip time of the year as compared to the same day two weeks ago there are now numerous large groups of schoolchildren all over the place. I had a quick coffee and then decided to restrict myself to one exhibition – a small one of aboriginal memorial poles (larrakitj) by Wukun Wanambi. The exhibition explained how a eucalyptus tree was chosen, felled and decorated. There were six poles in the room, three as the tree was found and three finished and highly decorated.

Wukun Wanambi (b. 1962), Wetjwitj (detail). Earth pigment on hollow tree trunk, 2013. © the artist, courtesy Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre.

I then went to the British Library and was using a desk on the balcony to do some work when a sixty-something year old man with untidy longish grey hair walked past wearing a short, pink, frilly dress. His hairy legs ended in socks and trainers. He disappeared into the lift and it reminded me of some students I was teaching a couple of years ago. One of them was also a belly dancer. She had apparently walked through the university library in full regalia on one occasion. At least he made me smile and the end of the day is looking better than the beginning.

London, library and books

Geoffrey Wagner book (1 of 1)
I left the house this morning just as dawn was breaking and the birds were starting to sing. It was a little frosty but I got to the station and onto the train. There was only a slight delay while the two halves (one from Chester and one from Holyhead) were joined together. I tucked into my coffee and a book, which I had hoped, might give me some more inspiration for the Lincoln Highway journey next year. The title ‘A walk across America’ was promising but it turned out that Peter Jenkins who started out from New England, headed south to the Gulf Coast rather than west. However, his journey was eventful in that in addition to meeting some interesting characters, his faithful canine companion dies; he becomes a Christian and meets the woman who becomes his wife. His journey to the Oregon coast is contained in a second book, which I will seek out. Once I got to London, I had very short but crowded tube journey to my destination and enjoyed a very stimulating conference on spirit possession and mental health. At the end of the afternoon I walked along Old St, Clerkenwell Road and into Bloomsbury (hoping to do my 10,000 steps for today) with a brief visit to Skoob books. As my neuralgia was kicking in again, I headed to the British Library for a rest and to think about another book I have been reading: Geoffrey Wagner’s ‘Another America: In Search of Canyons. This was published in the 1970s, as was Peter Jenkins’ book. Interestingly, this review copy that I had found in the second hand department in the Waterstones in Bloomsbury, only cost me 50p more in 2015 than it did in 1974. Wagner is a disaffected academic and New York City dweller who, tired of academic life and crime levels in the city, heads off with his wife and a Porsche across the country. His style is informal and he can be very dismissive on occasions (e.g. don’t go to Denver) but certainly highlights some of the things we might want to divert to see. I have almost done 10,000 steps now that I am at Euston and am hoping for an uneventful train journey home.