Visit London Blog » women’s institute Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 22 May 2015 17:44:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Hand Made Tales and the Women’s Institute Craft Day at the Women’s Library Wed, 16 Feb 2011 16:14:51 +0000

The Women’s Library in East London has gone craft crazy. The current exhibition Hand Made Tales: Women and Domestic Crafts, explores the role of sewing, gardening, knitting and cooking in women’s lives. If you enjoy making things, you need to find time to visit this exhibition.

Hand Made Tales is full of beautiful hand-made items, as well as craft tools, vintage craft books and haberdashery. The exhibition explores connections between craft and history – in times when women had limited rights of ownership, they took care over the items they made. The exhibition also considers emotional connections made by craft, for example when we treasure and use our grandmother’s button jar, sewing box or knitting needles.

To complement the exhibition, artist Nicola Malkin has created some art pieces which have been scattered around the building, including giant knitting needles on the wall.

Last Saturday, London branches of the Women’s Institute took over the exhibition with a fun day of craft demonstrations, tea and free talks.

The most interesting speaker was Anne Stamper, the WI Honorary archivist who explained how the WI preserved, shared and developed craft skills throughout the 20th century, supporting rural communities and holding major exhibitions to showcase expert work.

It was also fascinating to see demonstrations of traditional craft and it inspired me to go home and teach myself tatting (with a lot of help from YouTube tutorials!).

Hand Made Tales runs till 26 March 2011. Free entry. The Women’s Library has an ongoing programme of thoughtful talks, walks and events.

]]> 3
The Ministry of Food at Imperial War Museum Wed, 10 Feb 2010 14:28:12 +0000 Reduce waste, clear your plate and grow your own – not just good advice in a recession, but lifesaving measures on the Home Front during the Second World War.

With food supplies in short supply in the 1940s, the British public needed to become more self-sufficient and efficient with food. The Imperial War Museum‘s new exhibition, The Ministry of Food, shows how they managed.

The Ministry of Food exhibition takes you through the different areas of the Home Front, with posters, video, and plenty of plastic food on display.

Rationing was introduced in the 1940s. If you struggle to come up with meal ideas despite today’s choices, imagine making something tasty and inventive with your allocation of dried eggs, potatoes and a tin of Spam! I tried some “mock cream” at this morning’s press view – that’s sweetened, whipped margarine as a replacement for cream, and it tasted pretty close to the real thing.

Most worryingly (for me!), tea was rationed to two ounces per week. But, with tea as an important morale booster, tea stocks were dispersed to more than 500 locations to minimise chances of destruction in an air raid. (Phew!)

But rationing did have benefits. The exhibition shows how the government educated people about nutrition through poster campaigns and friendly cartoon characters such as Doctor Carrot. Infant mortality rates actually went down during rationing.

With food a precious commodity, people were much more aware of waste; scraps were saved for feeding animals, the Women’s Institute set up a network of 5,800 preservation centres to use up surplus fruit, and even washing up was limited to twice a day to preserve soap and water.

Ministry of Food is a great insight into the everyday changes people made during the Second World War. While you’re there, make sure you take some time to look around the Imperial War Museum’s impressive permanent collection too.

]]> 1