Tag Archives: design

Heywood Sumner: artist and archaeologist, 1853-1940

George Heywood Maunoir Sumner came from a family of clergymen including an archbishop of Canterbury (his great uncle), while his mother, Mary Sumner, founded the Mothers Union. He was brought up at Old Alresford, Hampshire, where his father was rector. He, however, decided to study law rather than enter the church. Sumner was called to the bar in 1879, but by this time his real interests were in the arts. He soon became a successful artist in the Arts and Crafts tradition, and was a follower of William Morris, but was also influenced by pre-Raphaelite design and later Art Nouveau. Morris and Co. commissioned a design for a tapestry depicting a medieval deer hunt incorporating scenery based on the New Forest. This is now owned by Hampshire Museums Service.

Tapestry of The Chace, designed for Morris and Co.

Tapestry of The Chace, designed for Morris and Co.

He married Agnes Benson in 1882, and for the next few years worked as a professional artist in London, producing many drawings for books and magazines, also watercolours, posters and wallpaper designs. The quality of his illustrations was appreciated by his contemporaries including Walter Crane. His most innovative work was in sgraffito art, made by scraping away the top layer of plaster to reveal a design in two colours. Surviving examples can be seen in several churches including Church Crookham in Hampshire. The decoration of the nave apse at St Agatha’s Church, Portsmouth is described in the Hampshire volume of The Buildings of England as his masterpiece and “one of Portsmouth’s few major works of art”. He also produced designs for mosaics, stained glass and furniture.

Title page of Sinram and his companions (1883) [Rare Books PT2389.U4]

Title page of Sinram and his companions: a romance translated from the German of Friedrich de la Motte Fouque (1883) [Rare Books PT 2389.U4]

Among Sumner’s earlier works is a volume of etchings, showing views in the Itchen Valley, and a further volume about the New Forest by John Wise for which he contributed twelve etchings. We hold both volumes among the Cope Collection, along with loose plates from the volumes in the Print Collection.

Boldre Ford near Queen's Bower from John R.Wise The New Forest: its history and scenery {Rare Books Caope quarto 97.03]

Boldre Ford near Queen’s Bower from John R.Wise The New Forest: its history and scenery {Rare Books Cope quarto 97.03]

Sumner’s many interests included traditional music, and in 1888 he published The Besom Maker and other country folk songs with his own illustrations. He had collected the songs himself (mostly in Hampshire) and so was a pioneer in this field, predating Cecil Sharp by some years. He was a member of the newly formed Folk Song Society.

Sumner, his wife and five children, moved to the New Forest in the early years of the twentieth century after some years in Bournemouth. He had a house built to his own design and using local materials at Cuckoo Hill, South Gorley, (now a care home). This resulted in The Book of Gorley, an illustrated collection of his writings on local history and rural life. It includes his feelings about this time of year, with which many of us would sympathise: “I was born and bred on Hampshire chalk, and I love it, but I do not love it as a home when the rains fall and the springs rise in the New Year. Then during the months of January and February and March …the usual keen air…has a clammy breath and chills to the very marrow.” Apparently he found the climate within the New Forest more congenial, and much enjoyed walking through winter woodland: “The bare, deciduous trees reveal exquisite tracery of branch and twig, surmounted by a veil of varied tinted buds. Green mosses of vivid hues mingle with the grey fur of lichens on bole and trunk and bough.”[‘A winter walk in the New Forest’, Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club Vol IX, 1925.]

In 1924 Sumner published The New Forest, an illustrated guidebook reprinted in 1972, which thirty years after the author’s death, the publishers considered “still the only book on the Forest which is both entertaining and a valuable source of reference”.

The mizmaze at Breamore Down from The Book of Gorley [Cope GOR 03]

The mizmaze at Breamore Down from The Book of Gorley [Cope GOR 03]

Sumner soon became deeply interested in the earthworks and Roman pottery kilns of the area. As well as making surveys, he excavated a number of sites which resulted in many drawings annotated with his characteristic handwriting. He was inspired by the example of General Pitt-Rivers’ excavations in the nineteenth century, and always recorded his findings with great care. Special Collections holds several of his archaeological publications, and his accurate illustrations of pottery types would not look out of place in a modern excavation report. At the same time, he vividly described, with an artist’s eye, the trees and wildlife which surrounded him during his excavations. He also investigated Stonehenge and the earthworks of Cranborne Chase. He published The Ancient Earthworks of Cranborne Chase in 1913, described by Professor Barry Cunliffe as a masterpiece: “its meticulous plans are minor works of art, while the descriptions are models of clear observation and precise recording”.

Kiln being fired

Kiln being fired: Plate IIIA from Heywood Sumner Descriptive account of Roman pottery sites at Sloden and Blackheath Meadow, Linwood, New Forest (1921) [Cope 97.93]

By the time Sumner died in 1940, he was considered one of the leading archaeologists in the country. By then much of his art had been forgotten, or thought of as “old-fashioned”, but that is now no longer the case and he is again widely appreciated.

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Swimwear fashions

First released in June 1960, at a time when bikinis were still considered as risqué, the song Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini is credited with helping to make the garment more socially acceptable.

The modern bikini was launched in 1946, when two French designers produced two-piece swimsuit ranges, although illustrations can be found in a number of locations showing women from Roman times wearing bikini-like garments for athletic competitions. An increasing number of glamour shots of actresses in bikinis in the 1950s did much to make the bikini popular, as did the appearance of the teenage Brigitte Bardot in Manina, la fille sans voiles (released in March 1953). Following the appearance of Ursula Andress in a white bikini in the 1962 Bond Film Dr No, the popularity of the bikini became assured.

Multi-coloured bikini from 1993 [MS332/4/17]

Knitted bikini from 1993 [MS332/4/17]

The bikini marked a very long way forward from the serge, flannel and eventually wool long-sleeved nineteenth-century bathing dresses designed to preserve decency. Double suits were common, with a gown from shoulder to knee plus a set of trousers with leggings down to the ankles. As the century progressed ankle-length drawers replaced trousers as the bottom half of the ensemble, the top became hip length, the bottoms were shortened to knee length and both became more fitted.

As well as modest bathing costumes for women, bathing machines were developed as changing rooms on wheels. These enabled the machines to be pulled by horses into the sea, thus allowing women to enter the water without showing their bathing costume.

Bathing machines

Bathing machines, Illustrated London News, August 1888

Queen Victoria had a bathing machine at the beach near Osborne House, Isle of Wight, where she and her family spent their summers. In her journal of 30 July 1847 she notes her first experience of sea bathing:

“Drove to the beach with my maids and went in the bathing machine, where I undressed and bathed in the sea (for the 1st time in my life)… I thought it delightful till I put my head under water…”

With the dawn of the twentieth century, the yards of fabric used in Victorian bathing suits for women — which could be up to 9 yards of material — was reduced, allowing costumes to show a little more of their figures.

Sea bathing and costumes, 1910s [MS402/1/1]

Sea bathing and costumes, 1910s [MS402/1/1]

The year after the 1912 summer Olympics, when female swimming debuted and women wore costumes similar to those worn by the men, the designer Carl Jantzen produced swimwear that was a close fitting one-piece with short sleeves and shorts on the bottom.

Swimwear continued to evolve, new designs assisted by the development of manmade fibres and synthetics. In the 1930s, the tank suit, or maillot, became popular.

Swimming costumes, 1934

Swimming costumes, 1934 [MS1/7/291/22/2/27]

As swimwear developed in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, it followed the silhouette more closely. Cutaway swimsuits became popular in the 1970s and 1980s, inspired by the fitness regimes of the period.

Whilst swimming costumes might be bought, suits also were hand knitted at home. This seems to have been particularly popular between the 1930s and 1950s, although there are patterns available from the 1900s. Later patterns include those for the crocheted cotton bikini of the 1970s, which had the unfortunate habit of stretching when wet.

Knitted bikini, Barcelona, 1993 [MS332/4/16]

Knitted bikini, Barcelona, 1993 [MS332/4/16]

Possibly destined never to test whether it would stretch if it became wet, this striking yellow bikini from the Montse Stanley Collection at Southampton was a garment designed to look elegant and bring a little glamour and style to the beach.

As well as the knitted swimwear, the Montse Stanley Collection also contains a selection of French and English seaside postcards and photographs featuring swimwear, ranging from bathers at the beach to some of those glamour shots of film stars. Montse Stanley was enthusiastic for all aspects of the history of knitting, a fact reflected in the impressive array of materials that form her collection.  The collection that is a rich resource for anyone interested in the creative possibilities of knitting.

Sea bathing and costumes, 1910s [MS402/1/1]