Upholstery: Evolution to Revolution

Entered 13 April 2017

Second Sitters take over the Geffrye for London Craft Week
The Geffrye Museum of the Home
136 Kingsland Road
London E2 8EA
Tuesday 2 – Sunday 21 May, 10am-5pm.

Second Sitters Maker, Hannah Stanton, at Geffrye Museum, May 2017

Second Sitters Maker, Hannah Stanton, at Geffrye Museum, May 2017

Second Sitters will stage an upholstery  ‘take over’ of the Geffrye Museum in May, time-lining the evolution, ups and downs and new revolution within the craft from upholder (archaic term for upholsterer) to the present day through an exhibition, live working demonstrations, workshops and panel discussions with makers and industry professionals.

Miss Pokeno Riot Chair - Second Sitters, Geffrye Museum, May 2017

Miss Pokeno Riot Chair – Second Sitters, Geffrye Museum, May 2017

Curated by practising upholsterers Hannah Stanton and Jude Dennis, the exhibition features work from a selection of UK-based upholsterers who are redefining the traditional preconceived role of the upholsterer by combining traditional craft skills with contemporary thinking. Taking the form of a physical timeline, the exhibition maps the changes and developments within the discipline to include techniques, materials and stories.  Works will be multi-disciplinary, from furniture to photography and film, tackling activism, social commentary, materiality and throw-away culture.

Second Sitters exhibitors include:  Jude Dennis, Polly Granville, Miss Pokeno, Electra Read-Dagg, Mick Sheridan, Rachael South and Hannah Stanton.

Free Standing Bus seat in Kirkby Design Picadilly Fabric by Mick Sheridan, Geffrye Museum, May 2017

Free Standing Bus seat in Kirkby Design Picadilly Fabric by Mick Sheridan, Geffrye Museum, May 2017


Live Working Demonstration (sponsored by SCP, East London’s leading design store)
Saturday 6 May, between 10am-5pm.  Drop-in, free
SCP’s upholstery factory Coakley & Cox Ltd will upholster their iconic Matthew Hilton Balzac chair frame live over the course of the morning.  Throughout the day, featured upholsterers from the show will use identical Balzac frames as blank canvasses to upholster in their own unique style.  Completed chairs will then be on display for the remainder of the exhibition.

Caning Workshop with Rachael South
Tuesday 9 May, 10am-5pm.  Tickets £75 (includes all materials).  Suitable for beginners

Learn the tradition 6-way woven pattern used in chair caning and practise on a small frame to take away with you.  Rachael South, a third-generation caner and seatweaver, will also give an overview of the materials and a history of the craft and its applications.
To book tickets

 Traditional Upholstery Workshop with Mick Sheridan
Saturday 20 May, 10am-5pm. Tickets £100 (including all materials). Suitable for beginners

Upholster a milking stool to take home, using traditional materials and techniques.  Each stool is handmade using reclaimed ash and will be finished using a selection of Welsh woollen fabrics from Melin Tregwynt.
To book tickets

Panel Discussion – Upholstery: a Sustainable Future
Thursday 18 May – 2.30pm-3.30pm to include Q&A session
Tickets £5

Hosted by design journalist Katie Treggiden, the panel of makers and industry professionals will discuss issues around design, upholstery, sustainability and the circular economy.

Panel to include:

Corinne Webb, Frame & Cover founder and director. Award winning Frame & Cover was born out of a commitment to creating modern and bespoke UK made home furnishings using wholly sustainable methods. Corinne is a trained upholsterer and textile designer with many years experience of working in the industry.

Tim Cox – Managing Director of Coakley and Cox Ltd. Produce funriture for high-end brands such as SCP, Heals and David Linley. Their products are all made by hand, using a blend of traditional and modern upholstery techniques with the use of non petrochemical based alternatives to foam for filling where possible.

Alex Law – Kent School of Upholstery. Master Craftsmen and author of two Upholstery books, Alex is passionate and knowledgeable about sustainable issues surrounding upholstery. He latest work ‘Beach Clean Chair’ explores the possibilities of utilising industrial waste from the local fishing industry. Dubbed by some as the ‘Jamie Oliver’ of upholstery Alex’s enthusiasm for the craft is infectious.

To book tickets

The Panel Discussion is kindly supported by Short Courses at The Cass, London Metropolitan University. 


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