,  |  26 August 2020


Vintage sporting photos have always been a key element to the research and starting point of Kearns’s collections for Kent and Curwen.
Photos of teams in uniform or individual portraits often found on the walls of the sporting clubs around the UK where Kent and Curwen made their name providing uniforms since 1926. The early versions of these photos were often taken indoors with a stage backdrop of painted scenes as the early wet plate cameras where so difficult to operate outdoors.
Kearns took inspiration from this and used the Elms Lesters Painting Rooms as the setting, a building custom built in 1903- 1904 by Messrs W & J Elms Lesters tucked away in the centre of London designed to create the stage backdrops for the West-end theatres close by on Shaftesbury avenue.
The building has two narrow high ceiling rooms lit by the natural light of the glass roof, the paint splatted walls of which are cased in wooden frames to hold the backdrop canvas for painting which were then rolled and sent out the massive wooden doors at the front of the building to be taken by horse and cart to the theatres nearby.
The collection centres around these two characters; the sportsman and the artist both photographer and painter in this context. The sportsman’s wardrobe focuses on heritage sporting pieces of sweats, sweatpants, college scarves and t-shirts all embellished with the signature rose. The artist’s wardrobe has more of a sartorial flair with shearling-collared blousons, parkas, woollen blousons worn with rose patch knits, caps and boots.