18 June 2021 -
The ‘Eye for Colour’ symposium was held at the National Museum of Scotland on 29 November, 2018. The one-day event marked the formal launch of the Bernat Klein Foundation, and was opened by the Patron Rt Hon. the Lord Steele of Aikwood, Sir David Steele. This was followed by the keynote lecture by eminent textile historian and curator, Mary Schoeser, and a series of presentations by academics and practitioners in their field of expertise, the details of which are included at the end of this short report. The symposium was supported by the Design History Society, William Grant Foundation, and Glasgow School of Art.
As a free event, the symposium was open to members of the general public, as well as academics, students, design and industry professionals. It was well publicised through specialist networks, as well as through established National Museum of Scotland channels, resulting in a broad, international and local reach. The event was also timed to raise the profile of the Bernat Klein Foundation and its formation with the overall aim of managing and promoting Klein’s creative and cultural legacy.
The symposium was very well received with over 200 registered participants through Eventbrite, with an audience of 87 people (+ speakers) on the day. Comments were gathered through evaluation forms providing suggestions of future topics, as well as a high proportion of positive feedback on the symposium. Examples of new topics are Scottish design history (including oral histories of those who worked with Bernat Klein); sustainable fashion; textile production and consumption; and the intersections between midcentury art and design.
The foundation has developed ideas and the wider network that the symposium highlighted as important areas for consideration. Following a planning day in May 2019, the trustees agreed that an urgent area for attention was the capture of the oral histories and stories of those who had worked with Bernat Klein during his career in textiles (1951 - 1992).
Subsequently the project proposal ‘Securing the Creative & Cultural Legacy of Bernat Klein’ was developed and successfully attracted funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the William Grant Foundation. The project was initially planned as a year-long project, however with the advent of Covid-19 the project has now been extended to December 2022.
The symposium event has also contributed to the planning of a book on Bernat Klein and Scottish Textiles, planned for publication in 2022, Klein’s Centenary Year. In the preparation of the proposal to Yale University Press, the foundation trustees have connected with selected speakers from the 2018 symposium, inviting essay contributions. Keynote speaker, Mary Schoeser who became the foundation’s new Patron in 2020 is also contributing to the publication as well as providing guidance.
The foundation would like to sincerely thank the Design History Society for their support for the ‘Eye for Colour’ symposium, as it has provided a sound basis on which to build the ambition and activities of the Bernat Klein Foundation.
Prepared by Alison Harley, Chair Bernat Klein Foudantion.
The symposium programme was as follows:
Theme 1: Bernat Klein: Textile Designer, Artist, Colourist, and Industrialist, Convenor Lisa Mason, Assistant Curator, NMS and Foundation Trustee
Klein’s Colours – a personal collection Gráinne Rice, Adult Programme Coordinator, National Galleries Scotland
Bernat Klein: Design, Colour and the Interior Fiona Anderson, Lecturer and Independent Curator
Bernat Klein: Colouring the Archive Helen Taylor, University Archivist, Heriot-Watt University
Theme 2: Colour Forecasting Convenor Fiona Jardine, Lecturer in Design Theory, Glasgow School of Art and Foundation Trustee
Visibly Invisible: The History of Color Forecasting Regina Lee Blaszczyk, Professor of Business History, University of Leeds (withdrew)
Colour Forecasting Tracy Cassidy, Reader in Fashion & Textiles, University of Huddersfield
Colour in Men’s Fashion Karen Finlayston, Personal Colour Analyst and Founder/ Director of Colour Elements UK
Theme 3: Distinctive Identities and Signature Styles Convenor Lisa Mason, National Museum of Scotland ! !
Indigo - Reflection of Our Blue Planet Jenny Balfour-Paul, Hon. Research Fellow, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, Exeter University, and President, Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers
The complexity of Green Susan Kay-Williams, Chief Executive of the Royal School of Needlework, Hampton Court Palace
Kidswear Needs No Electric Blue? A Practical Study of Alternative Means to Add Emotional Value In Children's Knitted Textiles Maija Nygren, Designer and early career practitioner/researcher (examples on display during the 3.30 - 4.00 break)
Colour, Fashion and Sustainability in Fashioned from Nature Yona Lesger, Research Assistant for Fashioned from Nature,V&A London
Theme 4: Cultural Colours Convenor Fiona Jardine, GSA
Working in Colour - A Case Study of the Naro San People of the Kalahari Desert Lynn Wilson, Founder and Director Circular Economy Wardrobe UK and PhD Researcher, University of Glasgow
Travelling Tints: The Fashion for Indian Shawls in Nineteenth-Century Britain Suchitra Choudhury, Textile Historian and Literary Critic
Shanghai Style and Substance Collette Paterson, Lecturer in Textile Design, Edinburgh College of Art and PhD Researcher, Heriot-Watt University (withdrew)