‘Hat Tricks’ December 1989/January 1990

Submitted by root on Mon, 08/27/2012 - 23:55

'Hat Tricks' continued the series of theme - based textile exhibitions with a semi-serious look at hats - ranging from the fantastic to some examples of more traditional ethnic headgear. The exhibition aimed, amongst other things, to draw attention to an accessory that no longer takes the form of a customary convention. The exhibition was also seeking to entertain and to present, mostly, contemporary textile/fashion skills. There was a variety of documentary information on hats commenting on their role/function, as social statements or necessary forms of protection, for example, throughout history and from other cultures.

The Blackie Gallery commissioned Loughborough College of Art and Design students to design headgear inspired by everyday working hats. The results were a witty collection of embroidered, beaded and sculptured hats. Also on show were works of several hat makers from Liverpool, Manchester and London.

The Artists and Their Work:

Emma Clegg made hats one could imagine sea nymphs wearing. Inspired by the shapes of seashells and the colours of the sea, Emma's hats were made from machine knitted wire- wool, beads and silvered thread. Emma was a young hat maker with a studio in Liverpool's Trading places, off Bold Street.

Zoe Hamilton had nine hats in the exhibition - three of which were fur hats and four 'Tarot' hats. For the fur hats Zoe drew her inspiration from the rich images found in Indian rugs, isolating fragments that could be inlayed into fabric. In creating these hats Zoe tried to exploit the concepts of fur and the role that it has within our society, seeing fake fur as a perfectly aesthetic alternative. The fur hats were amongst the most wearable head gear on exhibition.

The 'Tarot' hats were essentially theatrical and decorative. They were based on imagery taken from Tarot cards, the sun, moon and other symbols of mythology and magic. The style of hats was drawn from Turkey. The luxurious fabrics and vibrant colours aimed to capture the atmosphere of both day and night.

The techniques used in all Zoe's hats in the exhibition involved machine embroidery, appliqué and beading.

Zoe studied at the Loughborough College of Art and Design, and had exhibited at Smith's Gallery in London and a variety of Leicestershire galleries.

Louise Johnson had four hats in the exhibition, as well as the papier-mâché urn in which the hats were exhibited. The hats were luxuriantly coloured, mad hatter creations, made from hand printed velvet and inspired by design ideas taken from Greek vases. An exhibition entitled 'Fashion and Surrealism' at the V&A in London was also a strong influence.

Louise studied fashion and textile design at Liverpool Polytechnic and it was the result of various design projects as part of the course that these hats were made. Louise had exhibited in the 'New Designers Exhibition', London and the 'Tricel Competition' London, Glasgow and Liverpool.

Caryn Simonson had four hats in the exhibition. 'Bed of Roses' took its inspiration from circles,Victoriana and mob-caps. The 'Regal' hat was originally influenced by the 'brain-like' convolutions found in Astrakhan fur. The three tier hat 'Lovehearts and Boxes' was created for a performance and was based on imagery and products that were aimed at children. 'Spider hat with surprise lid' expressed an interest in the idea of combining hat boxes with hats.

Caryn studied crafts at Crewe and Alsager College. She had appeared on the 'Clothes Show' and exhibited in the Edinburgh Festival Craft Tent and the Smithfield Gallery, Covent Garden.

Fiona Handley had four hats in this exhibition; all created using variously shaped segments of hand-dyed cotton.

Fiona also studied crafts at Crewe and Alsager College as well as featuring on the 'Clothes Show'.  She had exhibited at the North West Design Show in Manchester and the ChelseaCrafts Fair.


Bernie Carroll (Liverpool)

These hats were all originals and formed part of a private collection owned by local artist Bernie Carroll.

2nd Year Embroidery Students Loughborough College of Art and Design

Nineteen students from Loughborough had works in this exhibition.  The hats were specially commissioned by the Blackie Gallery as a second year project for the Autumn term. The brief was to take as a starting point inspirational hats to be worn in a working environment. The students were to elaborate on this theme and to create both a hat and a stand on which to display it. The results were highly entertaining and ranged from a motorcycle helmet to a judge's wig. The techniques used included appliqué, machine embroidery, fabric collage and beading.

Student Hats                                                     


       Joanne Bailey                                                                    Darren Cleary 


      Claire Goddard                                        Emma Bennett                                                                                                    


           Tina Fearn                                                                         Tara Hansford                                                                 


               J Louise Gandy                                                           Nicola Greaves                  


                               Julie Howells                                        


     Gail Jackson                                           Georgina Noble                                                    


      Helen Mortimer                                         Zed Sardar                                                                                                                        


          Joy Thomas                                                                       Jane O'Meara                                          


      Alison Smith                                           Monica Todd-Pokropek


       Karina Weeks                                                                     Jo Totterdell

A large number of the hats in the exhibition were for sale and most of the exhibitors were available for commissioned work.

A workshop accompanied the exhibition based on the celebration of other cultures (reflecting the fact that Merseyside has a distinct multi-cultural element) thus each hat would mirror a variety of elements from a particular cultural festival.


Anyone visiting the exhibition was able to make a hat which when finished became part of a wall display. The hats were made either using an old/unwanted hat as a framework or entirely from scratch.