Beer St Gin Lane


Beer Street

The mood is joyful and full of people resting after their hard work. The idea is that beer inspires and refreshes laborers and can be drunk safely and responsibly.

The setting for Beer Street is located somewhere around Trafalgar Square in St Giles. This is identifiable by the church St-Martin-in-the-Fields in the distance. From this hangs a flag of celebration in honor of King George II's birthday. This also indicates the date to us, his birthday being 30th October. The workers are celebrating in honor of him and their Britishness. The prints are dated as 1751 but a paper in Beer Street reads 1748. Perhaps the scene is set then, or maybe Hogarth just started working on them at that time. 

The character I am focusing on is situated at the Pawnbrokers. He is assumedly working class. The Pawnbroker is the only business struggling in the area as Beer Street is overall hardworking an successful and so pawning is not needed and hides from debt collectors. In comparison the Pawnbroker is the only thriving industry in Gin Lane as people sell their goods in order to buy alcohol. 

Based on him being a working class male I shall need to do research into the clothing worn at this time. I already have a collection of images from the era (here) but it is mosty later in date and female based. 


Gin Lane

The second part of the series, Gin Lane, is a chaotic contrast to its counterpart. The street is crazed by their addictions to gin and are depicted as either mad, desperate or dead. The only exemption to this is the pawnbroker, who is the only character doing well from this. Surrounding him are the desperate - a carpenter selling his tools for money to buy alcohol and a women selling her pots and pans, leaving her incapable of providing food for herself and her family. This is also a reflection of the lack of work going on in the scene, a stark contrast to Beer Street. Gin leaves you highly intoxicated and dysfunctional thus unable to perform work. Instead people become reliant on gin and gin alone, selling the their work tools that are now uneeded to feed this starvation for the drink.

"The scene is set in the poverty-stricken area to the north of Covent Garden, identifiable by the tower of St George's, Bloomsbury in the background [ref]."

There is also a historical context to the piece. It was relevant at time as there was in fact an increasing reliance on gin, a strong alcohol originating in Holland. "Controls on consumption were lifted at the turn of the century and stills proliferated with the result that by 1750 more than one in six houses in this part of London sold gin. Gin was said to be responsible for a lowering of the birth rate and an increase in infant mortality and despite immigration to London the population began to fall. A campaign was launched in 1750 - of which this print was a part - led to the Gin Act of 1751 which introduced licensing of retail premises and finally reduced consumption."


Suit, 1755-65, British, Wool and Silk


Waistcoat, 1740, British, Linen and Cotton


Waistcoat, 1747


The waistcoat above was a design of Anna Maria Garthwaite. It is British made from silk, metallic and wool. "The marvel of this original design is that it identifies not only the artist but also the weaver, Peter Lekeux, and gives the date of sale -- October 23, 1747. In addition, the metal threads to be used in the weaving are described: "dark yellow plate" (a plain, metal strip); "light yellow plain" (a metal strip wound around a silk or linen core); and "grey frosted" (a textured thread that sparkles). Both Garthwaite and Peter Lekeux were important contributors to the English silk industry in the Spitalfields area of London [ref]."


British Suit, mid-18th Century, Silk, Linen


Waistcoat, 1750-70, British, Silk, Metal, Linen


Waistcoat, 1740, British, Linen and Silk


1725-50, Men's Shoes


Linen Shirt, British, 1750-1800


Corset belonging to Marie Antoinette


In my group I have now been given the character of the poor woman in Gin Lane to focus on so I started looking a bit at clothes that suit would suit this character. Though I am using pretty much solely Hogarth's representation as the source for her costume I find it interesting to know more about the materials she may be wearing and what was usual at the time for people of her circumstance.

We have also decided that the torso of the dress which will be the main focus of the piece is in an 18th Century style so this gives me the opportunity to research into corsetry and bodices. It also allows my prior research on this page to become more useful.

Based on this I have researched womenswear of all financial backgrounds. I found "Dress in 18th Century England" by Anne Buck very informative and the information below is almost entirely sourced from this book.

Full Dress - Upper Class womanswear

  • The sack back gown was replacing the mantua at full dress balls and assemblies during the 1730s. The sack-back had begun as a loose, informal robe. It had a bodice-front shape to the figure which was open over a stomacher until the 1770s. Following this the fronts met with a centre fastening.
  • The hoop's size and shaped varied with the formality or informality of the dress or occassion and also with time. It was widest in 1740 and 50 (for full dress).
  • The English looked to the French as a source of new fashion, often communicating ideas through fashion dolls.
  • Hair between 1710-60s was styled drawn back from the face into a high bun at the back, or with ringlets falling down the neck.

Middle Class Homewear

  • Loose gowns were worn, overlapping and fastening on one side or secured around the waist with a girdle. This could be formalised with a bodice-cut front.

Middle Class Outwear

  • The Morning dress or nightgown was suitable or alternatively a sack and white apron with a hat.
  • Hoops were small or non-existant
  • Often plain straw hats were worn with a flat crown and wide brim.

The Country

  • The futher away from London, generally the further behind fashion the country-people were.
  • Dresses of printed linen or cotton were general morning-wear in the households of the country gentry.

Working Class

  • Fustian was the material of the working suit, though those who could afford it would have a cloth suit for best wear.
  • In the last quater of the century a new garment came into use among agricultural workers, worn for both everyday and best wear. It was another form of frock, known as the round frock or smock frock. Loose frocks had been seen since the begning of the century as working garments.
  • Linen frocks used to be purely a working garment but became a suitable everday-wear and also a Sunday dress.
  • A woman's bedgown was a short, loose gown with a wrap-over front, often held in place by the apron tied over it. This garment can be seen in Hogarth's 'The Harlot's Progress'.
  • In the north, almost every article of dress worn by farmers, mechanics and labourers is manufactuered at home, often from home-grown flax and wool.

Materials and Fabrics

  • At the beginging of the century most of the clothing worn in England was supplied by the English woollen industries. Linen, sometimes mixed with cotton, was also worn by most people, though in ranging quality and quantity.
  • Women of fashion rarely wore wool unless it was concealed within the linning of the garment for warmth.
  • The male gentryman wore more cloth, having only the waistcoats made from rich and patterned silks. Women wore more silk than wool.

Beer Street and Gin Lane - William Hogarth

Beer Street and Gin Lane are two prints that were intended to be shown alongside each other. They share similar motifs and characters but the condition is entirely opposite. Beer Street is represented as a cheerful, hardworking street in which everyone is happy and sociable. Gin Lane shows a stark contrast of chaos erupting in the street with the central focus being a women failing to notice the baby about to fall to its death.

Hogarth intended Gin Lane to be shocking and so it was intended that Beer Street was to be viewed first to offer a comparison. "Hogarth claimed that these prints were 'calculated to reform some reigning Vices peculiar to the lower Class of People'. They were published in support of a campaign directed against gin drinking among London's poor. Consumption of cheap spirits by the poor had soared in the early eighteenth century, with dire social consequences. The campaign was led by Hogarth's friend the novelist Henry Fielding (1707-54), who was chief magistrate for Westminster from 1749 to 1754. It was successful: an act against gin was passed later in 1751. This prevented retail sale of gin by the shops that sold normal household necessities, and was effective in curbing the evils of spirit drinking [ref]".

Beer Street celebrates beer as a light alcoholic drink. He shows the audience beer still leaves you capable of performing your daily activities as builders, tailors and people of various other occupations are presented holding a tankard of beer. In contrast Gin Street depicts everyone in it as either incapable, lacking in morals or physically drained. There is a continuing theme of poverty and death throughout. 


William Hogarth

William Hogarth (born 1697) is a greatly renowned British painter and engraver of portraits and realist scenes. As Beer Street and Gin Lane are engravings, I will largely focus on this area of his work. He started using the technique when he was "apprenticed 1714 to silversmith Ellis Gamble as ornamental engraver, worked independently from c. 1720 [ref]"

"Early satirical works included an Emblematical Print on the South Sea Scheme (c.1721), about the disastrous stock market crash of 1720 known as the South Sea Bubble, in which many English people lost a great deal of money [ref]." This is also one of his first independent engravings. "Almost all his copper plates survived until the early part of this century and were frequently reprinted, with the consequence that many worn and re-worked impressions exist [ref]." 

"Although a fine portrait-painter, he is best remembered for his 'Modern Moral Subjects', combining a rococo style with satirical comment on contemporary society. His first great success in this genre came in 1732 with A Harlot's Progress [ref]."

In 1731, Hogarth started creating moral based work, 'A Harlot's Progress' being one of the earliest. This is perhaps what led to Fielding proposing the idea of an anti-gin piece to the artist. His morals generally correlated with that of a Protestant. 

He was able to create characters from what he knew, he himself having witness the poverty of London. "Hogarth had a childhood blighted by the years his father spent in debtors' prison. He was also familiar with the dark bulk of Newgate Prison, now demolished, then just up the road from Smithfield. From here, every six weeks or so, condemned prisoners would be carted along what is now Oxford Street to the communal gallows at Tyburn - opposite present-day Speakers' Corner [ref]."



Waistcoat, 1740, British


In my research of the clothing I have tried to focus exclusively on British clothes from around the time of 1751. Some are a few decades before because I think it is likely people will be wearing older, outdated clothes, particularly the poor in Gin Lane. 

In the 1700s menswear consisted of a coat, waistcoat and breeches which formed his suit. Sometimes all of these matched but later in the century three different materials were used, carefully selected to compliment eachother.

In 1730s coats had wide skirts with extra back and side pleats. The inner lining was often stiffened with buckram. Between 1740 and 1770, the width decreased and there were fewer side pleats. Coat fronts started to curve back and sleeves were lengthened and grew narrower. The front edges also slowed away and the the collar increased in height. Waistcoats also transitioned around this time and were gradually shortened around 1720. By the 1780s they were waist-length.

From 1720 to 1750s, breeches were lose and comfortable with a simple fly fastening. Greatcoats and thick capes were popular as outwear until the 1750s.

It was fashionable for very little of the shirt to be visible. Cravats were used and bands with matching cuffs, often decorated with fine lace which could be seen. Gowns were worn informally but more fitted with button fastenings instead of sashes. Sleeved waistcoats became less fashionable for informal wear and were only worn by older men.

[Information sourced from 'Costume History 1500-1900' by Valerie Cumming.]


Waistcoat, 1742, British, Silk and metal


Shirt, 18th Century, British


Waistcoat, Early 18th Century, British, Silk


In our group we are starting to think about what the characters will be wearing and so designing their clothes. I am trying to research fabric dyes that would have been available at the time. It was quite a limited pallette as dying didn't really take off until about 1850, which I found out in my last project, I have found this website very informative as it gives a timeline of dying, allowing you to see what was used at the time. We can see that in "1745, Indigo begins to be grown in England, after the Revolution when it became cheaper to import from the East Indies", so in 1751 it would have been a relatively new colour, maybe making it exclusive. Perhaps the pawnbroker in Gin Lane would be wearing it as he is the most wealthy in the scene.

I have also been reading "A History of Dyed Textiles" by Stuart Robinson which describes in the 1620s a Dutch chemist named Drebbel found a method of dying bright scarlet from tin-mordanted cochineal. The colour went to Paris in 1930 and Lonon in 1643. This was one of the first chemical dyes. Prior to this natural colours were sourced worldwide from herbs, fruits, wood and many more elements.


Suit, 1750-75, British, Wool, Silk, Gold


Waistcoat, 1760, British or French, Silk and Metal


Waistcoat, 1750s, British, Silk, Linen


Costume of Peter the Great, 1710-20



1. How do you envisage your entrance to and exit from the space?

I enter from underneath the shirt and exit by walking back behind it. Our piece is circular as it is centered around main focus of the ladder.

2. How long does the transition from one Street to the other last and what moments are there to pause for a Live Tableaux?

It takes under a minute to make the transition of twisting the skirt. We can't really pause for a tableaux during the transformation but there are moments within each street to potentially pause. For example the pawnbroker reviving the beer in Beer Street or him holding up the jacket in Gin Lane.

3. How will you deal with re-staging the performance three times?

Our transition is largely just an adjustment to the costume which can easily be repeated as many times as needed.

4. What materials have you used and why? Can you think of ways this could have been done more successfully and sustainably?

For the fabric that makes up the skirt and corset of the wall we bought old bed sheets from charity shops which gave us a good few meters to work with. However we didn't think about the type of fabric we were buying and used a light cotton to make the corset and a heavier fabric would have been more appropriate. I also needed to buy boning to make the shape and I'm not really sure how this could have been acquired second hand. For my costume of the poor woman, all of the items were sourced from charity and adjusted to suit my needs.

5. In what way does your project contain the challenges mentioned in the Waste Off brief set by UAL?

Our piece continues to be useful after he project has finished as the skirt is composed of large bed sheets, which I will reuse as scrap fabric later on. I also can still use the poor woman costume to an extent. I probably wont have use for the shirt, but the scarf is still intact and can be worn normally. The skirt has a hemline that has been broken down but I intend on cutting a few inches off and sewing a new hemline, creating a shorter skirt that I can still wear.

6. How are you evidencing your consciousness of sustainability?

I haven't yet but I intend on making a workflow page now that the project is finished.

7. What research have you undertaken and how has this fed into the development of ideas?

I have done a lot of research into fabric dyes which I tried to incorporate into my costume designs. However because it was second hand I had to really buy what I could find and not focus too much on historical accuracy. I also have looked into menswear and corsetry of the 18th century which led to changes of the shape of the corset designs.

8. Identify an artist/designer who you admire and who's work has influenced you on this project and explain how.

In our group we didn't really look at a particular artist, but our piece does kind of resemble Mamoru Iriguchi's 'Into the Skirt' performance which is interesting as we all really liked it but didn't consciously intend to make a piece similar.

9. In what way have you considered the original underlying purpose of the satire in the Hogarth prints? What makes Hogarth's work relevant today?

I think the original purpose of the satire is because it makes the prints entertaining so would draw people in to look at the work more closely. It also makes the subject matter less intense - Gin Lane depicts quite heavy issues and without the satire element the topics might have been too strong for the general audience to feel comfortable viewing. Though aware of this, it hasn't particularly effected our work. Our performance was quite exaggerated in motion which I guess relates to satire, with me doing actions like using the saw prop to pretend to saw open the dress to allow the pawnbroker to enter.

10. In what way have you developed your ideas from the original prints by Hogarth?

We have tried to replicate the original characters as closely as possible and transformed the scenery into a dress, so our interpretation is quite literal to the print.

11. How have you incorporated the idea of the transition into your design?

The main difference between the two prints (in our area) is the wall so we made a dress where the skirt can be moved and each half of it resembled a different print.

12. Identify three moments where you have solved a theoretical or practical problem through research or experimentation with materials.

  • We had a problem when constructing the corset so we had to make a new panel for the back to make it fit, so this was more of a problem solved by practically making the garment.
  • We had to consider health and safety and whether the use of a ladder would be possible in the performance. We came up with an alternative idea of draping fabric from a floor above but after asking technicians we found a ladder would be fine.
  • Originally we wanted the pawnbrokers sign to be a headpiece but another member of my group experimented and couldn't find a way of making it hold within the time we had so we ended up with it just being a piece held in the hand.

13. In what way have you managed time effectively?

We didn't make a schedule for tasks because most of it revolved around the dress and we didn't really have an idea of how long this would take. We just worked with setting a main deadline for Monday and allowing Tuesday for finishing touches so this pushed us to finish in the allocated time.

14. How have you managed the roles within your collaboration?

We largely stuck to what we were good at though because majority of it was costume based we all had to do a bit of this despite not everyone in the group wanting to do costume. We assigned everyone a character or area and largely just focused on our areas alone. 





Ирина Тимцова
11 June 2018, 7:20 AM
Благодарю! Интересно как !
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