The collector: Kirsten Hardie, UK National Teaching Fellow, Principal Lecturer, Arts University College at Bournemouth, Dorset, UK.
The collection: Flock.
‘Flocking is a fiber-coating technology that brings texture, comfort and warmth to practically any surface including metal, foam, rubber, paper and plastic.’ - flocking.org
The story behind the collection...
Collecting flock came about by default really. The idle amassing of items covered in this fuzzy surface finish has been ongoing for decades: various items purchased as the feel and appeal of flock has taken hold of my imagination and increasingly my purse. The velvet-like tactile quality and look of flocked items is the core criteria for collecting. The quality, size, function and type of item are relatively less important than the flock. The flock can be long or short, old or new, any colour – but has to look and feel right. Flock is marvellous.
My collection includes many different items that form subgroups: wallpaper, dresses, book jackets, postcards, ornaments, toys, packaging etc ….a mix of items all bound together by their flocked surfaces. Many items have flock as their decorative finish, for example Spanish glass bird drinks bottles. Other items are flocked to aid their function, such as decoy pigeons (their flocked bodies are apparently more life-like and avoid the unnatural shine that purely plastic examples suffer.)
In 2007 I joined forces with Pam Langdown, a colleague at the Arts University College at Bournemouth, who also, spookily, loves and collects flock. Through research and extensive networking we co-curated Flockage; the Flock Phenomenon Exhibition at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth from June to September 2008 and hosted the accompanying symposium. Flockage proved to be the world’s first cross-discipline flock exhibition. It explored the history, form, function, manufacturing process and aesthetic appeal of flock across a range of contexts. Supported by various companies, artists and designers, the exhibition brought together flocked items from industry Art and Design, Fashion, Interior Design and Publishing – and prime examples from our own extensive collections. We founded the Flock Friendly Group – which has an international membership.
As a collector of flocked nodding dogs the exhibition showcased a good selection of these and wider flocked nodding animals too: nodding deers from Canada, Lions from Glasgow, 1960’s dogs (from a shop in London that sold examples complete in their original boxes) - but pride of place was Pam’s nodding lobster (an item we now both own – sourced with relish from Nova Scotia). The flocked creatures are superb – dual kitsch in terms of their curious function and fabulous covering.
Many items are now stored awaiting future exhibition. The vintage American flocked dresses purchased via ebay, that evidence consumers’ love of flocked textiles over the decades, are cherished items – never to be worn. Other flocked items are permanently on display at home and work and certain items are used regularly – the wonderful flocked Vivienne Westwood shoes for example. No day goes by without a touch of flock somewhere.
The newsletter of the Flock Friendly Group is available at Issuu.
Images © Kirsten Hardie & used with her kind permission.