Artists to design products for new cultural initiative

 Dec 02, 2015


Artists from The Sorting Office studios in Eastleigh have been selected to design prototype products for a new initiative called the Creative Commercial Collections project.

The pilot project will see the artists - who work across a range of artforms from illustration, and jewellery making, to textile design and ceramics - design and create products inspired by three historically significant objects from Hampshire: Jane Austen’s Pelisse Coat; the author’s cottage garden at Chawton and the 1929 Golden Arrow, the car which broke the land speed record.

The project is a collaboration between the Hampshire Cultural Trust and the National Motor Museum Trust, along with support from the Jane Austen House Museum and a-space, a Southampton- based arts organisation that helps to nurture artistic talent.

Its aim is to strengthen the relationships between historical collections and artistic endeavours, and also to provide a platform for the creativity of contemporary designers and makers.

To achieve this, the project will partner with brands and artists to create luxury, commercially viable products with a contemporary feel.

Resident designers and makers at The Sorting Office have been asked to design and potentially build prototype products inspired by one of three historically significant objects.

The successful prototypes will be used to showcase to brands the creative potential held within the collections, although it is as yet unknown which companies will be approached.

The first object of inspiration is Jane Austen’s Pelisse coat (c.1815), an overcoat made of silk and decorated with embroidered gold oak leaves, which was put forward from Hampshire Cultural Trust’s Chilcomb House collection.

The second item is the garden of Jane Austen’s cottage in Chawton, a modest collection of hedges, roses and herbs in which the famous novelist spent much of her latter life.

The third item of inspiration for the designers is the 1929 Golden Arrow, the car which broke the land speed record, reaching just over 231mph, on March 1,1929. This item was selected from the National Motor Museum in Brokenhurst.


Explaining the choice of objects for the pilot project, Hampshire Cultural Trust’s Katerina Kremmida said:

“Two of the collections have strong links with Jane Austen, and 2017 marks the 200th anniversary of her death. The pelisse coat is quite an iconic object, and it will be interesting to see how the garden is interpreted.

“The car is also an iconic part of the National Motor Museum Trust’s collection.”

She added:   “We’re hoping to learn about the process of working with designers to make luxury, commercially successful products.”

Speaking about the project, Daniel Crow, Director of a-space, said:

 “This is absolutely new, for the Trust, for the artists and for the collection. Mistakes will be made, but that’s part of it. Copyright, for example, is a minefield. Our artists couldn’t simply copy the print on Jane Austen’s dress.

“This pilot allows us to test ideas without stepping on any mines.”

Daniel believes it is also a brilliant opportunity for The Sorting Office artists to work and build relationships with major brands.

He said: “Once this pilot project is complete, they’re going to be at the front of the queue to do this for real.”

The deadline for artist’s submissions is January 8, 2016, and, depending on scale and budget, one or more designs will be chosen and made into a prototype.