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Second Sitters Evolution to Revolution take over of the Geffrye Museum

When I was invited to take part in a panel talk Upholstery: A Sustainable Future discussing sustainability in the upholstery world as part of Second Sitters take over of the Geffrye Museum, I, of course, jumped at the chance. I am really looking forward to talking about and sharing my thoughts on something that is really close to my heart, and not only this, it is an important part of the philosophy of Frame & Cover.

As soon as Hannah and Jude explained the premise of the exhibition I was immediately sold. Second Sitters take over of the Greffrye Museum is a time lining of the evolution and new revolution within the craft of upholstery. The exhibition features work from UK based upholsterers who are redefining the traditional preconceived role of the upholsterer, combining traditional craft skills with contemporary thinking. Taking the form of a physical timeline the exhibition maps the changes and developments within the craft to include techniques, materials and upholsterers stories. Works will be multi disciplinary, from furniture, to photography, to film, tackling activism, social commentary, materiality and the throwaway culture.

I can’t recommend this exhibition enough. We take it for granted that we sit on upholstered seating of some sort every day, often for hours on end, without really thinking about how it was made and with what materials. Often I think that we assume that all chairs and upholstery is mass manufactured and made by a machine. This is not the case, the majority of upholstery is made by hand, albeit with a little help from modern technology.  There has been a definite shift in the world of upholstery both in the people that are training and who practice the craft but also upholsterers that are exploring, pushing it forward and looking at it with fresh eyes. I trained as an upholsterer at London Metropolitan University and the majority of new students training were women. Upholding has traditionally been seen as a more masculine craft and women fought for a long time to be recognised and accepted in the upholding world. So I applaud the efforts that Jude and Hannah have gone to to highlight this shift in the face of the upholstery.

This comprehensive exhibition charts the development of upholstery and features some of the most exciting and thought-provoking pieces of upholstery that I’ve ever seen. Works featured in the exhibition are from Jude Dennis, Polly Granville, Alex Law, Miss Pokeno, Mick Sheridan, Rachael South, Hannah Stanton and Electra Read-Dagg. You can also find our very own Frame & Cover chairs featured at the Geffrye Museum. It feels very fitting to have our chairs in a museum dedicated to the home and also a honour.

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