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13 June 2019AS GOOD AS GOLD (A special lecture for the Golden Jubilee of The Arts Society)

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THE FIELD OF CLOTH OF GOLD Jo Mabbutt Thursday 09 May 2019

In June 1520, Henry VIII and Francis 1 met to ratify an Anglo-French alliance and celebrate the betrothal of Henry’s daughter Mary to the Dauphin.  Next year, 2020, will see the 500th Anniversary of this extraordinary event.

The two handsome ‘Renaissance Princes’ were in their 20s, with similar reputations in military prowess, in sport and as patrons of the arts.  Both had imperial ambitions and were eager to display themselves as magnificent noblemen and warrior kings.  Each brought with him an entourage of 6,000 to a field south of Calais, for 18 days of events and entertainments designed to display the skill and splendour of each King and country.  

The logistics of transporting, accommodating, ordering, feeding, watering, protecting and entertaining the English contingent for this spectacular event are staggering.  The supply chain, often through the City of London Guilds, is equally fascinating: 3,217 horses shipped across the ‘Narrow Sea’ to Calais; a vast quantity of wood sourced from Flanders and floated along the coast; a huge temporary palace built on stone foundations with brick and timber-framed walls reaching to 40 feet.  Royal palaces were virtually emptied of their silver, gold, tapestries and furniture to decorate the temporary palace, other principal tents and a chapel (complete with an organ); gold and silver cloth, velvet and sables, jewels and pearls were imported to ‘dress and impress’.

How was it all achieved?

Jo Mabbutt is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers and Freeman of the City of London. Originally a trained singer, pianist and orchestra administrator, Jo is now a decorative artist who gilds antique lace and crochet, often combining with hand printing and painting.  She works to commission, sells through galleries and exhibitions and collaborates with other designers. 

Jo trained in wood graining, marbling, gilding, specialist paint finishes and interior design and was awarded the City & Guilds Silver Medal for Excellence in 2000.  She taught in further education for 8 years on Art & Design National Diploma and Foundation courses then up-skilled at Central St Martin's College of Art & Design developing her own practice. She now divides her time as a designer/maker, lecturer and tutor running workshops for specialist groups.