Charles and Patricia Lester have established an international reputation for their unique work in textile design and art fashion as well as costumes for films and operas. Their studios house an alchemy of creativity out of which evolves textile art beyond ordinary fashion. Now they have added a new dimension to what people can see when they visit the studios. The Gallery has been set up as a centre of excellence to showcase some of the fabulous creativity that there is in Wales – and where better to introduce people to the huge talent scattered throughout the Principality than in Abergavenny, traditionally known as ‘The Gateway to Wales’ where many other local talented artists can be found?
May 2014 – summer exhibition
What’s new – well we have changed the exhibition to one of summer brightness. Photographs printed on canvas of the beach in Llansteffan – Laugharne by moonlight just as it might have inspired Dylan Thomas and for the first time ever – some paintings by Patricia Lester – mostly of the sea. If you have a house by the seaside and you are entertained by the changing sea and sky – well it is a no-brainer – you will want to capture the images in any way that you can. So we take hundreds – no thousands of photographs and paint.
The BIG PLAN
Exhibitions will focus on different artists and topics to include contemporary art, photography, exotic costumes from film and opera, antique textiles and vintage laces, unique and original textile art, stained glass, interesting jewellery etc. Exhibitions will be interspersed with master classes in the arts and social networking courses.
As the gallery evolves we will incorporate digital projects using video, digital publications and interactive displays to ensure that exhibitions are made accessible across the globe. It will be a journey of co-creation inviting people to join us and interact with the stories, themes and displays.
If you want to be kept informed about exhibitions and our progress with the digital idea then please subscribe to our newsletter by e-mail or telephone.
Art in clothes –
Charles and Patricia, together with a small team of extremely talented people, create original and timeless clothes that transcend fashion. Their ethos is that people are different shapes and every woman, whatever age/size/shape she is, deserves to feel and look beautiful.
on-line shop: www.gallery-of-wearable-art.com
The current exhibition shows Charles’s photographs printed onto large format canvases. Charles has been taking photographs for at least 60 years and his observations of nature in its many guises have often inspired the colours of the silks that the Lesters use for their collection. A few more pictures can be seen on his website: www.charles-lester.com
Another photographic exhibition is planned for next year. Prints are being made from a collection of WW1 lantern slides that are focused, a great deal, on the propaganda at the time of this horrendous war. Commemorating the centenary of the First World War these poignant images will remind us of how appalling this conflict was.
And talking of centenaries – next year is the 100 year celebration of Dylan Thomas’s birth – so there might be a photographic exhibition of the places in Wales that inspired Dylan Thomas. This picture, currently on show in the gallery, is taken from just above The Boathouse in Laugharne.
Laugharne moonlight – by Charles Lester
Antique textiles and vintage lace
Sometimes the exhibition will show different types of needlework, embroidery and vintage lace. This piece of textile work is part of a large collection of antique Egyptian applique which will be shown together with some costumes made for the film ‘The Ten Commandments’ – the period of the film is around 1200 BC – costumes made for Padma Laksmi and Clare Bloom as well as an outfit worn by Omar Sharif and another worn by Dougray Scott which were bought on e-bay!
Vintage laces and embroidery will perhaps be the theme of another exhibition showing skills that no longer take priority in women’s lives. Although there is a resurgence of these domestic skills and interest in such crafts is certainly growing. Master classes in quilting, embroidery and other ‘needle crafts’ have been suggested as ideas to add variety to the gallery demonstrations.
Paintings and Sculpture
The painting here is one of many done by Charles’s mother Marjory Lester who took up painting late in life. www.stepping-back.co.uk
There are many artists in the area and we are hoping to hold either one-man shows or collective shows of local artists including, hopefully, the work of Stanley Lewis whose extraordinary work did not get into an exhibition until just after his death at the age of 101!
There could also be classes in painting, sculpture and life classes as and when instructors are found who would like to use the space.
Art using the media of textiles is something that goes back thousands of years – in fact textiles would feature higher up on the scale of valuables, in the past, way above that of jewellery. The piece above is one of the many very large works created by Patricia in the studios in Abergavenny. This piece is 9ft x 9ft and is made from the remains of the pleated silk that was used to make scarves for the presentation gift sets to launch a new cosmetic range by Cacharel. More pieces made for interiors can be seen on: www.interior-design-world.com
Another very large wall hanging in colours of rust, bronze and molten gold called ‘Treasure Trove’.
Contemporary Jewellery and Accessories
There are a number of very talented jewellery designers and makers in Monmouthshire and further afield in Wales. Rosemary and Peter Williams are highly skilled and creative jewellery and silversmith artists based in Monmouth: www.peterandrosemarywilliams.co.uk
The unusual necklace above is made out of buttons by Georgina Lester. Georgina found a huge quantity of all sorts of buttons on e-bay – over a million – and played with many ideas on how best to turn some rather ordinary buttons into extraordinary art jewellery. After much experimentation she devised a method of intricately knotting the buttons together incorporating vintage buttons and beads as well as colourful threads. She creates pieces that are fluid and extremely comfortable to wear – from simple bracelets to snake-like belts that can adapt as necklaces, curtain ties etc.
A future exhibition will show a fascinating collection of costume jewellery designs, beautiful intricately detailed paintings, recently seen on The Antique Roadshow. This collection shows how the fashions changed from 1918 at the start of the company to 1972 when the Birmingham company closed. Also included will be some of the press tools that were used to create the costume jewellery. A blog was written a while ago showing some of the pictures: http://designer-collection.co.uk/stvalentines-day/ A selection from the 5000 pictures will show the changes in fashion, highlights being the Egyptian inspired jewellery designed at the time of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun contrasted with the, to use a contemporary term, blingy jewellery of the era of Holliwood glamour films of the 1940s and 1950s.
Stained Glass Art and Ceramics
Exhibitions will sometimes focus on sculptural craft in stained glass, ceramics and other media that are used for decorative art pieces. The stained glass firescreen above is by Georgina Lester who is also a social networking and marketing mentor who will run master classes on the intricacies of working with this technology. Her emphasis is for artists who want to reach a wider audience in the contemporary way of networking through the internet. She also runs on-line courses that are a practical way of learning without having to travel to a specific venue.
Details can be found on: www.arts-wales.co.uk
Richard Meyrick Guitars, fine hand crafted guitars made in Wales.
Richard strives to produce beautiful guitars using locally sourced timbers as much as possible without compromising on quality or tone. A fully bespoke service guarantees that you get the perfect instrument at an affordable price.
Richard also repairs instruments to the highest standard and is able to carry out set-ups so that your pride and joy can play like new again.
For more information visit www.richardmeyrickguitars.co.uk or call 0777 9595 891.
Opera costumes made for the opera ‘Iris’ for Opera Holland Park and also used for a concert performance at The Lincoln Centre in New York – by Charles and Patricia Lester. – some more costumes can be seen on:www.world-of-opera.co.uk
Charles and Patricia have made costumes for a number of films, the most significant of which was ‘The Wings of the Dove’ which was nominated for an Oscar for the costume designer Sandy Powell. Costumes including those made for Helena Bonham Carter, Alison Elliot as seen on the poster above. Other films include ‘Greenfingers’ – Helen Mirren, ‘These Foolish things’ – Lauren Bacall, ‘Great Expectations’ Charlotte Rampling and most recently: ‘Belle de Siegneur’ – with the Russian super model Natalia Vodianova taking the part of the lead female character.
Charles and Patricia Lester
The Workhouse, Hatherleigh Place, Union Road, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, NP7 7RL
Opening times: Monday – Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Telephone: 01873 853559
Main website: www.charles-patricia-lester.co.uk
Access for disabled —— Ample parking —— All major credit cards accepted