Exhibition: From Sweden to Sardinia – Embroidered Garments from All Over Europe

TRC - From Sweden to Sardinia

Exhibition dates: opens 30 August 2016

For centuries, people all over Europe have been decorating their clothing with what are often highly intricate forms of ornamental needlework. The Textile Research Centre (TRC) in the Netherlands is therefore very pleased about their recent acquisition of about sixty embroidered Hungarian garments and over 1,400 items of European regional dress, many of which are embroidered. The TRC now has one of the largest collections of traditional European clothing in Europe. Over the next few years they plan to highlight various aspects of this stunning array of European material culture, in both actual and digital exhibitions.

To celebrate the recent acquisitions, and to draw attention to regional European decorative needlework, the latest TRC gallery exhibition – opening today – will show needlework from many parts of Europe. The exhibition includes a wide variety of colourful, subtle, marvellous outfits and individual garments, as well as many women’s lace and embroidered caps. They derive from all over Europe, including the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and of course the Netherlands, to name just a few countries. Emphasis is laid on the many different forms and techniques of decoration that have been used, and which are often still used by people all over Europe in order to indicate their region’s particular character.

For more information, visit the website of the Textile Research Centre, Leiden, Netherlands.

Event: Tribal Art London 2016

Tribal Art London 2016

Event dates: 1 – 4 September 2016

From Peru to the South Pacific, and from Africa to Asia, world art of all periods, from the ancient to the contemporary, is unveiled at this exciting and unique art event. Tribal Art London is the UK’s only art fair devoted exclusively to selling fine and original purpose works of art, from twenty-two international specialists in non-Western art. Works range from dance masks to metalwork, textiles to tribal adornment, early photography to contemporary paintings, and at prices from under £100 to over £20,000.

This year, again, OATG member Joss Graham will be present, and selling a stunning range of textiles and jewellery.

Admission is free, and there will be two lectures every day, on a variety of subjects.

For more information, visit the Tribal Art London website.

Event: Textile Fair at the American Museum

American Museum - Textile Fair

Event date: Saturday 20 August 2016, 11am – 5pm

Now in its third year, the textile fair will bring a wide range of specialist textile retailers to the American Museum in Bath. Browse antique, vintage and world textiles, as well as yarns and makers’ supplies in the museum’s beautiful surroundings.

For more information, visit the website of the American Museum, Bath, UK.

Textile Tidbits: Tribal Music Asia – Songs of Memory 2016 Update

Songs of Memory - 2016 Update

Today’s Textile Tidbit is a link to the Tribal Music Asia website, and this year’s Songs of Memory update. Although the site focuses mostly on the songs and music of Southeast Asia, there are also a large number of pictures documenting traditional textiles in the areas of Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and China.

This summer’s update includes information about three exhibitions of traditional crafts from these places, and several photographs. I recommend taking a look if you’re not already familiar with the site.

To read more about this project, and to view the exhibition photos, read the 2016 Songs of Memory update, or visit the Tribal Music Asia website.

Exhibition: On the Grid – Textiles and Minimalism

De Young Museum - On The Grid

Exhibition dates: 23 July 2016 – 12 February 2017

On the Grid: Textiles and Minimalism presents a broad range of textile traditions from around the world that share many of the same aesthetic choices ascribed to minimalist works. This exploration underscores the universality of the movement’s underlying design principles, which include regular, symmetrical, or gridded arrangements; repetition of modular elements; direct use and presentation of materials; and an absence of ornamentation.

Minimalist art is based upon pre-existing systems that conceive of the artwork in advance of its actual execution. These systems, often mathematical, rely on the repetition of simple forms. Textiles by their very nature comply with these core elements, and textile artists, like the minimal artists, predetermine the finished work through their selection and processing of materials and in the warping or preparing of the loom. On the Grid examines these processes and further explores both the pre-eminence of weaving in the textile design vocabulary and its influences on the design of painted and dyed pieces that also conform to minimalism’s repetition of forms and the grid as patterning devices.

Together, more than two dozen textiles from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s permanent collection examine various aspects of the minimalist art aesthetic that address abstraction, precision, geometry, materiality and process. These objects reflect the core principle that there is a beauty in simplicity that is both universal and timeless.

For more information, visit the website of the de Young Museum, San Francisco, USA.

Exhibition: Dressing Gods and Demons – Costume for Khon

Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles - Dressing Gods and Demons

Exhibition dates: 4 August – May 2017

Opening today, this exhibition at the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles, in Bangkok, Thailand, celebrates the auspicious occasion of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s 7th cycle birthday anniversary on 12 August 2016. It describes the origins of Khon and its historical presentation. It then highlights the modern Khon costumes created for the revival of this important art form by Queen Sirikit. The galleries display old and new Khon costumes, masks and jewellery.

In 2005, when Her Majesty Queen Sirikit set about organising the revival of Khon, one of Thailand’s oldest narrative dance forms, she assembled a scholarly research team to discover what the costumes might have looked like in the past. After the historical evidence had been collected, specialists were selected to design new costumes to fit contemporary adults. This degree of authenticity required the re-establishment or expansion of the weaving, embroidery, mask- and jewellery-making workshops necessary to produce all aspects of Khon costuming.

For more information, visit the website of the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles, Bangkok, Thailand.

Exhibition: Art and Stories from Mughal India

Cleveland Museum - Art and Stories from Mughal India

Exhibition dates: 31 July – 23 October 2016

The Mughal Empire existed for more than 300 years, from the early 1500s until the arrival of British colonial rule in 1857, encompassing territory that included vast portions of the Indian subcontinent and Afghanistan. The Mughal rulers were Central Asian Muslims who assimilated many religious faiths under their administration. Famed for its distinctive architecture, including the Taj Mahal, the Mughal Empire is also renowned for its colourful and engaging paintings. Many of these take the form of narrative tales that not only delight the eye but also reveal fascinating ways in which the empire’s diverse cultural traditions found their way into royal creative expressions.

The centennial exhibition Art and Stories from Mughal India focuses on four stories – an epic, a fable, a mystic romance and a sacred biography – embedded within the overarching story of the Mughals themselves as told through 100 paintings drawn from the Cleveland Museum of Art’s world-class holdings. Many works from the museum’s recent landmark acquisition of the Catherine Glynn Benkaim and Ralph Benkaim Collection are exhibited here and published in a companion volume for the first time. Rounding out the exhibition is a selection of costumes, textiles, jewellery, arms and armour, architectural elements, and decorative arts on loan from museums across the United States.

For more information, visit the website of the Cleveland Museum of Art, USA.

Exhibition: Weaving and the Social World – 3,000 Years of Ancient Andean Textiles

Yale - Weaving and the Social World

Exhibition dates: 20 May – 18 September 2016

Weaving was an important artistic achievement of the ancient cultures of South America. Andean peoples first produced textiles around 10,000 BC, and created one of the world’s earliest weaving traditions. Improvements in technical sophistication occurred around 1800 BC, when growing populations, large settlements and intensive agriculture transformed the region and set the stage for the great civilizations that would follow. Lacking written languages, Andean societies used clothing to define a person’s gender, status, occupation, wealth and community affiliation. Textiles also played an increasing role in political and religious rituals. When high-status individuals died, they were wrapped in layers of fabrics and buried with cloth offerings.

This exhibition, at the Yale University Art Gallery, celebrates the significance and beauty of ancient Andean textiles, demonstrating the spectrum of their designs and functions. It features exceptional loans from private collections, including tunics, mantles and wall hangings, as well as related feather, gold and silver ornaments, weaving implements and ceramic vessels. Characterised by graphically powerful images of deities, animals and geometric motifs, and by advanced weaving techniques, these textiles reveal the brilliance of ancient South American weavers.

For more information, visit the website of the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.

Exhibition: From the Imperial Theater – Chinese Opera Costumes of the 18th and 19th Centuries

Met Museum - From the Imperial Theater

Exhibition dates: open until 9 October 2016

Drawn entirely from The Met’s collection, this exhibition in New York examines these luxury textiles from artistic and technical points of view. It is organized in two rotations. The first focuses on costumes used in dramas based on historical events, and the second will feature costumes from plays derived from legends and myths. The presentation showcases eight robes, each of which was created for a specific role – court lady, official, general, monk, nun and immortal. A set of album leaves faithfully depicting theatrical characters wearing such robes is also displayed.

The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries witnessed a flowering of Chinese drama. Under the patronage of the Qing court (1644–1911), performances – including the ‘Peking Opera’ – filled the Forbidden City in Beijing. A form of traditional Chinese theatre, Peking Opera was developed fully by the mid-nineteenth century, and because of the form’s minimal stage settings and the importance of exaggerated gestures and movements, costume played an unusually significant role.

This exhibition includes superb examples with interior markings indicating their use in court productions.

For more information, visit the website of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, USA.

Exhibition: Friend and Foe – Animals in Medieval Textile Art

Abegg Stiftung - Freund und Feind

Exhibition dates: 24 April – 13 November 2016

Eagles, gazelles, lions or even magnificent peacocks enliven the fabrics with which the elites of society once clothed themselves. These precious textiles are material evidence of aristocratic culture; their depictions of animals play on the privilege of hunting or on the concept of courtly love. Including literary texts, from Ovid’s Metamorphoses to medieval verse romances, the Abegg Stiftung’s special exhibition for 2016 illuminates the meaning of these often magical-looking textile images.

For more information, visit the website of the Abegg Stiftung, Switzerland.