Collection: The Regency Wardrobe
Garment: Woman’s paper fan
Materials: paper, cartridge paper, quilling paper strips, card, Japanese rice paper Mizuhiki chord, tissue paper, embroidery thread, lacquer, pencil
This piece was created in parallel with the production of a series of wildflower photographs commissioned from photographer Ray Sullivan. On the front of the fan are small drawings of thirteen of the flowers from his final series. These are: Osteospermum - African Daisy; Taraxacum officinale - Dandelion; Rosa canina - Dog Rose; Calystegia sepium - Wild Morning Glory; California Poppy - Eschscholzia californica; Potentilla reptans - Creeping cinquefoil; Papaver rhoeas - Poppy; Centaurea cyanus - Cornflower; Bellis perennis - Daisy; Calendula officinalis - Marigold; Malva sylvestris - Common Mallow; Taraxacum - Dandelion clock; Coreopsis - Tickseed.
Whilst the names of two of the parts of any fan link to botany, its leaf and sticks, this piece is inspired more specifically by the colourful semi-translucency of tiny, often overlooked, common wildflowers. The fan is made from sheer paper as a means of suggesting a gentle breeze across a wildflower field.
Wildflowers was inspired also by the Botanical Fan, a printed fan from 1792, held at The Fan Museum, Greenwich. Printing had begun to make the mass production of fans possible even before the Regency; spreading particular fan designs around like wildflowers. Another Botanical Fan can be found in the V&A collection. It was printed by Sarah Ashton, one of many prominent female publishers of fan leaves in the late 18th century and a member of The Worshipful Company of Fan Makers from 1770. Many Regency era printed fans were decorated with text, partly or wholly, thereby informing and educating the ladies who used them. On Botanical Fan there is a lesson in botany, specifically in the reproductive anatomy of plants arranged according to Carl Linnaeus's (1707-77) classification. On the back of Wildflowers is a little about the taxonomy of each flower portrayed on its front, written faintly in pencil as if written during a lesson.