Home Forums Karen Finch Memories Life at 7 Western Gardens


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    Kitty Morris

      I would like to add a note about life at 7 Western Gardens when Karen ran a conservation studio from her home.

      In 1969 I was a fashion student with an interest in textiles. I was introduced to Karen by Zillah Halls, the curator at the Old London Museum in Kensington Palace.

      Karen took me on as a student in her house in Ealing.

      She somehow managed to run the house as her home and workplace and organise all the various ongoing projects with what appeared to be effortless ease.

      The house buzzed with activity with a dizzying amount of comings and goings.

      In theory the family lived in the top half of the house but the work tended to migrate from the ground floor, which was crammed with stuff – a sedan chair in the hall, a tapestry hanging on the stairs, boxes of costume waiting to be assessed or done.

      The breadth of work taken on was extraordinary, from Haile Selassie’s crown to Jann Haworth’s soft sculpture teddy bears of John Betjeman.

      A large workroom overlooked the garden with a tapestry on a frame, with a team of stitchers overseen by Danielle Bosworth. There was a loom and various worktables.

      An ever-changing cast of students, au pairs, ex-au pairs, relatives, friends and clients from all over the world pitched up on a daily basis and were roped in to help out when needed.

      Everyone was invited to lunch or tea, so Bruce Chatwin, just back in a van from Central Asia crammed with embroideries and Ikat panels, might find himself sitting down with a party of Japanese students.

      Karen maintained her links with the V&A. Her colleagues Madeleine Ginsburg, Pegaret Anthony and John Nevinson were all regular lunch guests and the students attended the lectures there.

      We would sometimes be given a lift into town by a client, a very elegant young man who had a bottle-green chauffeur-driven taxi.

      Karen’s husband Norman would come home from work in the evening and try to find a quiet corner where he might be able to sit down and read the paper with Miss Cat, the tortoiseshell cat.

      I loved my time there, life was never dull!

      Jann Haworth’s soft sculpture teddy bears of John Betjeman

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