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29 April 2022

Leather – Then and Now: Historical Leather Objects and Their Contemporary Counterparts

Leather – Then and Now

This is a guest article, provided on behalf of Bill Amberg Studios.

In 2018 museum trustee, Bill Amberg, curated an exhibition for London Craft Week entitled Leather – Then and Now. This featured museum objects such as an 18th century sedan chair and a selection of shoes.

For London Craft Week 2018, we were thrilled to be able to curate and produce an exhibition of fine leatherwork that was shown at the Leathersellers’ Hall in the City of London.

Pairing 20 unique and historically important pieces from the National Leather Collection with their contemporary equivalents, Leather – Then and Now offered a reflection on the enduring utility and appeal of this remarkable material.

Leather – Then And Now
An 18th century sedan chair from the museum's collection, featured in the exhibition.

The exhibition spanned 2000 years of human craftsmanship and creativity, from Roman soldiers’ boots to medieval Japanese samurai armour, and from Samuel Pepys’ wallet to handmade mid-century travel trunks.

Each historic piece was paired with its modern counterpart, presented thoughtfully to provoke discussion and to demonstrate the continued vitality and relevance of leather – alongside its material possibilities.

Leather – Then And Now
A selection of accessories featuring shoes from the museum's collection.

Brands that took part included Rolls Royce, Dunhill, Burberry and Valextra, as well as artisan creators such as Kuri Furre, Rob Goodwin and Mark Tallowin.

The showcase was exhibited in the elegant surroundings of the new Leathersellers’ Hall, opened in 2016 and designed by architect, Eric Parry. The building is home to the Worshipful Company of Leathersellers; an ancient Livery Company of the City of London.

We were delighted with the show, which was widely attended by brands, educators, design influencers and the press. A print catalogue detailing each piece accompanied the exhibition, and is available on request.

Museum of Leathercraft
Grosvenor Shopping Centre
Union Street

01604 745681