Exhibition: Hidden in the Lining – Krishna in the Garden of Assam, the Tales of Two Textiles

Exhibition dates: 17 April – 3 Sepember 2017

A partnership exhibition created between Chepstow Museum and the British Museum explores the origins, stories and meanings of woven silk temple textiles from seventeenth-century north-east India. A stunning example is from Monmouthshire Museums’ own collections – an elegant eighteenth-century gentleman’s dressing gown, its magnificent lining made from this rare group of Assamese textiles – only about twenty examples survive today.

They are known as Vrindavani Vastra, which means the cloth of Vrindavan, a forested region in north India where the Hindu god Krishna is believed to have lived as a young cowherd early in his eventful life. Dramatic scenes from Krishna’s life are woven into these vibrant strips of cloth. The same scenes feature in dance dramas performed with elaborate masks that are still distinctive to the region. Masks made by monks and textiles have been loaned by the British Museum, and two beautifully illustrated pages from the finest Assamese manuscript in the British Library are also in the exhibition. The scene is set with some stunning film made in Assam featuring the masked dramas in preparation and performance. (A Textile Society grant made the exhibition of the gentleman’s ‘banyan’ possible.)

This exhibition is taking place at Chepstow Museum, Chepstow, Monmouthshire, NP16 5EZ.

Open: Monday to Sunday, 11–4.

For more information, visit the website of Chepstow Museum.

Exhibition: Chintz – Cotton in Bloom

Exhibition dates: 11 March – 10 September 2017

The Museum of Friesland in Leeuwarden presents a major exhibition of its extensive and well-preserved collection of chintz: the shiny, floral, hand-painted cotton from India that conquered sixteenth-century Europe. The beautiful patterns feel familiar while at the same time convey a special story. Objects displayed range from skirts, jackets, sun hats and regional clothing to wall hangings and blankets. The exhibition Chintz  Cotton in Bloom takes the visitor on a journey from India to Hindeloopen, Indonesia and Japan.

Chintz  Cotton in Bloom shows the wide variety of colourful floral patterns on skirts and jackets, as well as huge wapenpalempores (bedspreads larger than 3.5 x 2.5 metres with a coat of arms). The regional clothing demonstrates how the chintz was cherished and preserved. The visitor discovers the special techniques of this craft and how chintz played an important role in the world in the seventeenth century. In addition, the exhibition shows that chintz still inspires new initiatives in the field of handicrafts. Together with the Textiel Factorij, the Museum of Friesland presents contemporary works by Dutch artists and designers made with Indian craftsmen.

For more information, visit the website of the Fries Museum, Netherlands.

Textile Tidbits: Handmade in Japan – The Kimono

For my latest Textile Tidbit, I recommend a short BBC programme about the production of kimonos in present-day Japan.

This programme visits the remarkable island of Amami Oshima in the southern oceans of Japan, to follow the elaborate handmade production of a traditional Japanese kimono. Over five hundred people are involved in producing the island’s famous mud-dyed silk, which takes many months to produce. The film follows the painstaking process of the silk being bound, hand dyed, woven and finally turned into a kimono by a seamstress. Along the way we not only discover the history of the kimono tradition, but also the many difficulties facing the kimono industry in modern Japan.

To watch this programme online, visit the BBC iPlayer website (unfortunately for international readers, this video is only viewable in the UK).

Events: Tales from the Road – Searching for the Vernacular Furniture of Rajasthan

Event date: Wednesday 28 June 2017, 6pm

SADACC (South Asian Decorative Arts & Crafts Collection) in Norwich has been collaborating with the Design Innovation and Craft Resource Center (DICRC), CEPT University, Ahmedabad, on the first ever survey of the vernacular furniture in Rajasthan. In this event, Ben Cartwright, Collection Curator for SADACC and Mansi Sathyanarayan, Project Team Leader, DICRC, CEPT University, will share their fieldwork experiences, their tales from the road in Rajasthan.

The fieldwork team have travelled to villages, towns and cities in a state that is over two and a half times the size of England. They have been invited into the homes of Rajasthani royalty and Adivasi farmers alike, walked through fields and deserts, and met with carpenters, potters and local mudwork makers. Wherever they have gone, they have been invited across the threshold to look at pieces of vernacular furniture and to chat about the lifestyles they enable – a study of vernacular furniture is very much a study of the people who use it. Every object contains the story of a craftsman, an individual or family, the community and the landscape.

Rajasthan, the state of kings, deserts, painted havelis and walled cities is famous for its textiles, music, landscape and architecture. But it is also home to an incredible variety of traditional furniture. There are public benches that have given their name to the debates village elders hold on them, chests with elaborate locking mechanisms shrouded in secrecy and handed down by the head of the house at the point of death, intricately painted pieces from palace collections through to the crude wooden mattress stands and mudwork grain stores found in poor rural homes.

It has been the job of the fieldwork team to try and discover these stories. Next week, they will be sharing their experiences – what it was like to stay with royalty in Shekhawati or visit the outlands close to Banswara. Join us for a behind the scenes introduction to the Vernacular Furniture of N.W. India project.

Entry is free and refreshments will be provided.

To find out more about SADACC, visit their website.

Please RSVP by Friday 23 June to info@sadacc.co.uk, or phone 01603 663890.

Event: REMINDER – The Iban of Borneo – Talk by Mike Heppell

Event date: Thursday 25 May 2017, 6.15–8 pm

Talk by Michael Heppell about the beaded garments and wealth of the Iban, their skill in weaving textiles and how these ‘trump Malay textiles’.

This is a reminder that this talk by Mike Heppell will be taking place tomorrow evening in Oxford, so do remember to register your interest if you can make it!

Mike is one of OATG’s overseas members visiting the UK from his home in Australia. In the 1970s he carried out his doctoral research among the Iban in the Batang Ai in Borneo. He has written books and articles on the Iban and other peoples in Borneo. Probably his most well-known book is Iban Art, Sexual Selection and Severed Heads: Weaving, Sculpture, Tattooing and Other Arts of the Iban of Borneo jointly authored with Limbang Anak Melaka and Enyan Anak Usen. More recent is The Seductive Warp Thread: An Evolutionary History of Ibanic Weaving.

Location: The Pauling Centre, 58a Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6QS.

OATG events are free for members and £3 for non-members.

Please note that we regret that no disabled access will be available that day. We are very sorry about the inconvenience caused.

For more information, and to register for a place at this event, visit the event’s Eventbrite page.

Exhibition: Ikats, Tissus de Vie – Un Voyage de l’Orient à l’Occident

Exhibition dates: May 2017 – December 2019 (see below for precise dates and locations)

For many years, tens of books, studies and exhibitions have been dedicated to ikat across the world, in the United States, in the Asia-Pacific region, England, the Netherlands and Switzerland. But nothing, or nearly nothing, in France.

Ikats, tissus de vie is there to fill this void. This project, consisting of a book and exhibitions, offers a large panoramic of these textile creations which have fascinated so many societies, from insular Southeast Asia to Islamic territories and Western Europe.

Ikat refers to the use of resists and dyes to apply colours very precisely to threads, before weaving them to create figures that vibrate inside the cloth.

Using this complex process, several societies from across the world have managed to create a surprising visual beauty, often regarded as sacred and central to their beliefs. Exploring the memory and the territories of ikat is also a way to understand how textiles evolved in cultures and to question what they can become today.

This exhibition will take place in four different locations between May 2017 and December 2019:

• La Route du lin, near Loudéac, Brittany – 20 May to 5 November 2017

• L’Abbaye de Trizay, near Rochefort – 1 June to 12 August 2018

• Le Musée Bernard d’Agesci, Niort, Deux-Sèvres – December 2018 to March 2019

• Le Musée Bargoin, Clermont-Ferrand – June to December 2019

For more information, visit the Parole et Patrimoine website (info in French) or the Tribal Textiles forum (info in English).

Exhibition: Embroidered Bodies – Garments, Stitches and Stories from the Ashmolean Museum

Exhibition dates: 5 May – 10 September 2017

Clothing tells a multitude of human stories, with each embroidered stitch contributing to the tale. This exhibition introduces the Ashmolean’s diverse textile collections through a selection of exquisite, crafted garments, expressing themes of personal identity, local tradition and international trade.

The exhibition, curated by the OATG’s own chairperson, Aimée Payton, includes a selection of garments drawn from the Eastern and Western textile collections of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Objects on view include a diverse range of garments from hats to shoes, stomachers to collars, dating from as far back as the 1400s right up to the twentieth century.

The OATG is organising two events in connection with this exhibition: one on Tuesday 13 June 2.45 pm at the Ashmolean Museum, and another on Saturday 15 July at 2.30 pm at the Broadway Museum (see the OATG events programme here).

For more information, visit the website of the Broadway Museum, Broadway, near Evesham, UK.

Event: The Iban of Borneo – Talk by Mike Heppell

Event date: Thursday 25 May 2017, 6.15–8 pm

Talk by Michael Heppell about the beaded garments and wealth of the Iban, their skill in weaving textiles and how these ‘trump Malay textiles’.

Mike is one of OATG’s overseas members visiting the UK from his home in Australia. In the 1970s he carried out his doctoral research among the Iban in the Batang Ai in Borneo. He has written books and articles on the Iban and other peoples in Borneo. Probably his most well-known book is Iban Art, Sexual Selection and Severed Heads: Weaving, Sculpture, Tattooing and Other Arts of the Iban of Borneo jointly authored with Limbang Anak Melaka and Enyan Anak Usen. More recent is The Seductive Warp Thread: An Evolutionary History of Ibanic Weaving.

Location: The Pauling Centre, 58a Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6QS.

OATG events are free for members and £3 for non-members.

Please note that we regret that no disabled access will be available that day. We are very sorry about the inconvenience caused.

For more information, and to register for a place at this event, visit the event’s Eventbrite page.

Event: A Pop-Up Exhibition of Antique Textiles & Jewellery from Asia & Africa

Event dates: 17–21 May 2017, 11am – 6pm

BARBIE CAMPBELL COLE, JOHN GILLOW and MARTIN CONLAN of SLOW LORIS invite you to

A POP-UP EXHIBITION of ANTIQUE TEXTILES & JEWELLERY FROM ASIA & AFRICA

at 34 Churton Street, Pimlico, London SW1V 2LP (outside the Congestion Zone).

Necklace restringing and jewellery repair service available at the fair.

Payments: We don’t take credit cards so your cheque book may be useful.

Parking: Local parking restrictions: Monday – Friday 8.30am – 6.30pm

Directions: Churton Street is off Belgrave Road, SW1, outside the Congestion Zone.

By tube: Churton Street is five minute’s walk from Victoria and Pimlico tube stations.

From Victoria mainline station, exit at the top of Platform 1 and turn right into Wilton Road. Pass Sainsbury’s and cross lights into Denbigh Street. At next lights and junction with Belgrave Road, turn sharp left into Churton Street..      

From Pimlico tube, head north up Tachbrook Street. After five minutes, just before Tachbrook Street Market, turn left into Churton Street.

By car:  Churton Street is best approached from Belgrave Road. Local parking restrictions: Monday – Friday 8.30am – 6.30pm

By bus:  Five minutes’ walk from bus stops at Victoria station as above, or take No. 24 bus from Victoria which passes the end of Churton Street on Belgrave Road

*JOHN GILLOW’s seven books on antique textiles from Africa and Asia have been published by Thames & Hudson and The British Museum Press. He has travelled the world studying and buying antique textiles for over 25 years. Each year he makes at least eight buying trips and stocks a wider range of ethnic textiles than anyone else in the country.

*BARBIE CAMPBELL COLE trained as an architect at the Architectural Association, London, then worked for many years as a documentary maker in Africa and Asia for the BBC and C4. For the last fifteen years she has been dealing in antique jewellery and textiles from Asia and Africa, selling to museums, collectors, interior, set and costume designers worldwide. Her published research into the heirloom jewellery of northern Burma and northeast India has been funded by The Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage UK, and The Bead Study Trust.

*MARTIN CONLAN of SLOW LORIS TEXTILES is an acknowledged expert in the textile arts and crafts of the Chinese tribal minorities. For over twenty years he has travelled extensively in southwest China, collecting and trading in indigo and vegetable-dyed antique textiles, regularly sourcing specific items for interior and costume designers. He also sells beautifully cut modern oriental clothing in natural vegetable-dyed materials.

Exhibition: Lucienne Day – A Sense of Growth

Exhibition dates: 14 April – 16 July 2017

Best known for her textiles, Lucienne Day (1917–2010) is recognised as a virtuoso pattern designer and colourist. Lucienne Day was also an enthusiastic gardener, and plant forms inspired many of her textile designs. This exhibition was opened as part of the nationwide Lucienne Day centenary celebrations.

The show is part of the Whitworth’s GROW project that promotes the benefits of engaging in horticultural activities to improve mental wellbeing. Groups and individuals within the local community who are experiencing social isolation or dealing with issues around mental health will work with Paula Day from the Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation to select works to display from the Whitworth’s extensive archive of Lucienne Day designs.

For more information, visit the website of the Whitworth Gallery, Manchester, UK.