PROJECT: The Shackleton trench coat
DATE: July 2017
Aged just 22, Sir Ernest Shackleton dreamt he “would go to the region of ice and snow and go on and on till [he] came to one of the poles of the earth”.
Shackleton, who was outfitted by Burberry for his three Antarctic expeditions, called it an inner ‘vow’ which would become a reality. He is now remembered as one of our great British polar explorers of the Heroic Age.
Using the classic gabardine trench coat as a canvas, Burberry commissioned artist and calligrapher Rosalind Wyatt to employ her unique needlework techniques, as well as her powers of historical investigation, to bring to life one of Shackleton’s most challenging (and controversial) expeditions - Endurance.
Based on archival research, conversation, and original documents, Rosalind uncovered unknown facts, narratives, quirks and idiosyncrasies which have perhaps fallen outside the standard history books written on Shackleton.
A collection of narratives were chosen to become physical features, emblazoned on the trench coat. These included:
- The haunting contours of the Antarctic are silhouetted on the back of the trench. On closer inspection there is a ‘hand stitched doodle’ of his journey plan made at one of the numerous fundraising dinners on the back of a menu.
- Prose and the words of the great poets were his companions on those long, arduous voyages at sea. To reflect the poetry ringing in his ears, words are stitched around the lapels – his own words intermingled with the words of the poets.
- To represent the little-known fact that 100 dogs (and one cat!) were a part of the journey, each are memorialised with a medal on one of the sleeves.
Working on this piece was a joy, as it brought together two of my greatest loves: embroidery and rich historical research. To be given the time and the freedom to explore my work, using a fashion icon like the Burberry trench as a canvas, was a career highlight.
To find out more about how you can enlist the minds and techniques of our makers, please email Kate Collins at [email protected] to make an appointment.