Destruction and Reconstruction
....although the collection may speak to other people, it is always first and foremost a discourse directed to oneself' 38.
Susan Bosence recalls outings with Barron to exhibitions, craft galleries, gardens, libraries, museums and junk shops, 'She was always looking for the best and most beautiful things man had made' 39 - the unique example of human ingenuity.
While most textiles in the Barron and Larcher collection are the products of seeking out markets and junk shops, Bosence records that Barron discovered this fine Japanese 'shibori', an exceptional example of craftsmanship, wrapped around a tin of dye imported from the East 40.
As the recipient, Barron clearly recognised the unique technical accomplishment of this textile. Its finely ruched surface is unusually tactile but its human origins would have been remote by the time it found its way into her possession. It had become a recycled object.
Cut into garment pieces in preparation for making up, perhaps into an apron or dress, the cloth has taken on the beginnings of a new purpose, reducing it to little more than a set of 'anatomical parts'.
What motivated Barron and Larcher to destroy a textile with such unique qualities? Perhaps they were so aesthetically in tune with it that it seemed natural to absorb it into their daily lives, yielding it to a new context and a new identity, rather than preserving it as a perfect 'specimen'.
38 Jean Baudrillard 'The System of Collecting' in John Elsner and Roger Cardinal (eds.) The Cultures of Collecting ( Reaktion Books, London, 1968) p.22
39 Susan Bosence Hand Block Printing and Resist Dyeing (David and Charles, Newton Abbot, 1985) p.12
40 Ibid. p.59
Resist dyed narrow weave cloth, hand spun, hand woven cotton, bound using 'shibori' technique, indigo dyed, Japanese, early 20th century, hand written label, 'There were about 14 yards of this narrow material tied in a long sausage', originally Phyllis Barron collection.
8090 copyright Textiles Collection, University for the Creative Arts at Farnham.