Posts Tagged ‘ Ros Tapestry ’

Last Chance To See: The Ros Tapestry, Farmleigh, Dublin

Technically, this is not actually the last chance to see the Ros Tapestry, but as the tapestry is only at Farmleigh until 1st April, if you live nearer to Dublin than New Ross (its usual home) then you would do well to visit Farmleigh this weekend. The exhibition at Farmleigh also happens to be free, a welcome bonus in these cash strapped times.

Alongside our recent giant Easter egg hunt, which took in Ashtown and Farmleigh, we took time to pop in to view the Ros Tapestry panels. The panels have been exhibited in Farmleigh Gallery since January, to mark Ireland’s Presidency of the EU. The monumental series of fifteen panels measuring four feet by six is still a work in progress. Twelve panels are finished and the remaining three (including a lively and detailed battle scene) are represented in this exhibition by full sized colour cartoons. Continue reading

Rathfarnham Castle: The Berkley Costume and Toy Collection

I am always a sucker for collections of either historic toys or costumes so when I discovered that Rathfarnham Castle now has an exhibition of both of these things I took the first opportunity to tootle along for a look. As it happened, I went on a rather wet day, which ruled out a stroll round the castle grounds; drips down my neck from a short walk along a woodland path put paid to any notion of outdoor activity. The exhibition organisers, rather wisely in view of frequently soaked visitors, request that bags, coats and umbrellas are put into a locker before you tour the collection.

The collection, displayed throughout ten rooms of the castle, was the work of Irish artist and collector Ann Griffin Bernstorff. Building the collection, which has previously been displayed at her Wexford home, took her over twenty years. However, the artist does not collect for collecting’s sake alone; she uses the pieces to inspire her paintings (see the link here). In looking for background information for this piece, I discovered that Griffin Bernstorff has designed all fifteen of the sections of the Ros Tapestry (the eleventh part of which the embroiderers have completed this year).

The costumes from the Berkley Collection displayed at Rathfarnham, are from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Fashionably dressed mannequins inhabit the beautifully restored function rooms of the castle. You can just imagine that the visitors have gathered (all dressed to impress) for a society ball; silks, satins and embroidery on show. One model was sporting some striped stockings (1785) that were inspired by the markings on Louis XVI’s quagga zebra. The clothes are all in wonderful condition and must have been very carefully cared for over the years. It is hard to believe that you are looking at fabric that is over two hundred years old.

The exhibition finishes with the comparatively simple gowns of the early nineteenth century (think Jane Austen) in elegant Empire style. One dress incorporated a design feature that I do not recall seeing in a costume exhibition before: tapes to accommodate expansion for pregnancy. It may be that this could be quite a rare example, as the dresses would likely have been worn repeatedly and not survived as well as less functional pieces of clothes. The clothes this collection are a mixture of Irish, English, French and Italian. Rather confusingly, there are also Italian and Irish dresses in the style known as á la française.

The toy collection is equally fascinating though I think the labelling of the exhibits could have been better. There is an information panel with a list of the items in the case or room but without numbers to guide the visitor to the correct description for each piece. I was struggling to tell the difference between the bisque and the wax dolls in some cases. The highlight of any toy collection has to be the dolls’ house and in this case, the house was a large Victorian model (1860) that any doll would have been proud to call home. However, my favourite piece in the toy collection was the ‘Baker’s Boy’ doll, which looked to be very jolly lad.

The Berkley Collection will be at Rathfarnham Castle for ten years so there is no excuse not to pay a visit in that time. The castle is worth a visit in its own right and particularly worth seeing are the Four Seasons and the Gilt Rooms with their gorgeous decorated ceilings. The original castle, built for Archbishop Adam Loftus in the Elizabethan period was remodelled in the late eighteenth century. Much restoration work has been done on the OPW managed building, which together with its remaining grounds make a very pleasant afternoon destination.

I also must mention the very kind staff who did not shoo us out when we kept them (unknowingly) beyond the closing time of 4.30pm. They also quickly spotted that I had left my umbrella behind and called after me!

For more information on the castle: