Exhibitions, Events and more in Thailand, France, Japan and the UK

A few events which have caught my eye…..

Patricia Cheesman with a few of the textiles from her latest exhibition ©City Life Chiang Mai

This week saw the opening of a new exhibition by Patricia Cheesman at Studio Naenna in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Entitled Over the Cordillera it showcases textiles from either side of the Annamite Range between Laos and Vietnam, examining similarities in their motifs. Patricia is the author of several books on the textile of this area. A brief overview of the exhibition, with many extra images featured in City Life Chiang Mai – thanks to Susan Stem for informing me of this.

Details:
Patricia Cheesman Gallery
138/8 Soi Chang Khian,
T. Changpeuak, A. Muang Chiang Mai

Wednesday 10am – 4pm (please call first) and by appointment tel 053-226- 42 or email st.naenna@gmail.com emailus1@studio-naenna.com

 

©Jenny Balfour-Paul

On 11 December indigo expert Jenny Balfour-Paul will be giving a talk in Paris on England and Holland, explorers of the indigo of the Indies.

Although indigo had been introduced into Italy in the Middle Ages it was “the English and Dutch East Indian companies that led to its expansion into the textiles of Europe of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, allowing considerable production of blue or black woollen cloth. In the nineteenth century, English settlers largely expanded the plantation and indigo production in India, dominating the world market until the advent of synthetic indigo.” (website of the National Institute of Art History). 

The talk will be in English and there will be time for questions and viewing some textiles afterwards. Click here to read an interesting interview with Jenny Balfour-Paul on Thomas Machell – the subject of her most recent book Deeper Than Indigo.

Details
December 11, 2019 – 18:00 -20:00
National Institute of Art History, auditorium
6, rue des Petits-Champs  or  2, rue Vivienne
75002 Paris
Free entry

 

Fragment of a horse caparison, England 1330-1340. © RMN-Grand Palais (musée de Cluny – musée national du Moyen-Âge) / Michel Urtado

Also on in Paris is an exhibition at the Musée de Cluny entitled The Art of Embroidery in the Middle Ages. According to the museum’s website “Embroidery with silk thread, gold and silver is one of the most precious and prestigious arts of the Middle Ages. And yet, today, these works are not at all well known.” This exhibition seeks to rectify that situation by looking at the main embroidery centres, from the Germanic regions to Italy, Flanders, England and France. It also provides an overview of the role medieval embroidery played from an artistic and social point of view, covering techniques, manufacturing processes and the relationships between sponsors, embroiderers, painters and merchants.” (museum website)

Details
24 October 2019 – 20 January 2020 Wednesday to Monday.
Musée de Cluny
entrance is via 28 rue Du Sommerard, 75005 Paris

 

Outerwear for women made of pineapple fibre, Panay Island, Philippines

Photo: Shinpei Shibuya

In complete contrast to all of the silver and gold in Paris, is an exhibition on Bast Fibers of the World which has just opened at the Iwatate Folk Museum in Tokyo. The range of bast fibres is incredible: raffia palm, hemp, ramie, banana were all used before we discovered cotton.

Details
Iwatate Folk Museum
1-25-13 Jiyugaoka, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 152-0035
28 November 2019 – 14 March 2020
Open Thursday, Friday and Saturday



Image courtesy of Takashima Gallery

While in Tokyo do not miss this small exhibition of Textiles of the Ancient Andes at the Takashima Gallery, which ends on 15 December 2019. Fifty textiles dating from 900BC to 1400AD are currently on show. The intensity of their colours is truly amazing! Click here to see great images of more of these textiles.

Details
APT on the hill | Takashima Gallery

 

©Cooper Hewitt

One of the techniques in which the creators of Andean textiles excelled was cross looping. In this blog for the Cooper Hewitt Elena Phipps examines this fragment of a border (probably for a simple shoulder mantle) made by Nasca needleworkers from the South Coast of Peru at some time between 100BC and 100AD. The yarns used are from various camelids – llamas, alpacas and possibly vicunas.

Recently an attempt has been made to revive this ancient technique. You can read more about the progress made in this blog by Marilyn Murphy of ClothRoads.

Film showing some of the fans on display and the conservation methods used.

Back in the UK the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge has an exhibition of fans from their extensive collection.  “The collection of over 600 objects ranges in date from the 18th to the 20th centuries and in type from bejewelled and hand-painted court and wedding fans, to printed mass-produced advertising fans, aide-memoire fans, mourning fans and children’s fans.” (Fitzwilliam Museum website)

I found the accompanying film fascinating, especially the glimpses it gave into the various methods of conservation that were used. I had no idea that fans could be so fascinating!

Details
5 March 2019 – 12 January 2020
Gallery 34
The Fitzwilliam Museum
Trumpington St, Cambridge CB2 1RB
Closed Mondays

Finally I really enjoyed reading this blog by Sara Clugage on the Cooper Hewitt website. In it she examines this portrait of Karl Marx which was woven in silk in Hangzhou at the East is Red factory.

According to Clugage this “woven portrait of Marx is especially poignant, given Marx’s unrelenting criticism of the textile industry. In his early manuscripts of 1844, he quotes at length the capitalist abuses of laborers at textile mills……. Interestingly, Marx points to textile workers as the first to have their skills subsumed to wage labor, erasing the specificity of skilled work and turning it into a laborer’s saleable commodity. This portrait is a deft piece of propaganda, turning from the alienated labor of textile production under capital to its reclamation by workers in a communist society. It successfully encodes communist economic values with nationalist party values.”

Hangzhou is now the home of the China National Silk Museum where research into the history of Chinese silk production is undertaken.

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Events: Worldwide textile events in November

I usually list the events that I am aware of in date order but sometimes, as is the case this month, a theme jumps out and it makes more sense to group those events together.

Tents set up for a Fair, 1907. Barratt, Reginald, 1861-1917 Creative Commons

Several exhibitions and talks are on the subject of Egypt, the first of these being the talk by Professor Sam Bowker to the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California on 16 November looking at The Tentmakers of Cairo and Egyptian Tentmaker Appliqué in American Collections.

“In the crowded centre of historic Cairo lies a covered market with wonderful textiles sewn by hand in brilliant colours and intricate patterns. This is the Street of the Tentmakers, the home of the spectacular cotton-on-canvas Egyptian appliqué technique art known as khayamiya. Their breathtaking urban pavilions connect the splendour of the Fatimids and Mamluks, the cut-outs of Henri Matisse, and the souvenirs of world wars. A co-author of the book The Tentmakers of Cairo, Sam Bowker brings together the stories of the tentmakers and their extraordinary creations, from the huge tent pavilions, or suradiq, of the streets of Egypt, to the souvenirs of WWI. Tracing the origins and aesthetics of these textiles, Sam will explore the ways in which they challenged conventions, and continue to preserve a skilled handicraft in an age of mass production.” TMA/SC Newsletter.

Details:
Saturday 16 November 10:30. Luther Hall, Lower Level St. Bede’s Episcopal Church, 3590 Grand View Blvd. Los Angeles. Members free, guests $10. Please note reservations to attend this talk are required by Wednesday 13 November. Please email info@tmasc.org.

 

Fragment with head and duck in a jewelled trellis, Egypt, early 5th century. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection

Continuing the theme is the current exhibition at the Textile Museum in Washington DC entitled Woven Interiors: Furnishing Early Medieval Egypt. The exhibition showcases 45 exceptional interior textiles from the villas, palaces, churches, mosques, and homes of late antique and early medieval Egypt. A gallery guide can be accessed here.

Hanging with erotes, animals, heads, and garlands (detail), eastern Mediterranean, 4th–5th century. The Textile Museum.

In addition to the exhibition a colloquium entitled New Threads: Recent Research on Egyptian Textiles will take place on Saturday 9 November.

“Inspired by new exhibitions on the fashion and furnishings of early medieval Egypt, this colloquium features new research from five distinguished scholars that will challenge your concepts of these ancient textile artworks. The program also includes curator-led tours of both exhibitions and a first look at the new Cotsen Textile Traces Study Center.” Textile Museum website.  Registration details and a list of topics and speakers can be found here.

Lori Kartchner will give a gallery talk on the use of flax in these textiles on Thursday 21 November – details here.

 

Fragment of a Coptic textile; 5th–6th cent.; Upper Egypt. © Tomaž Lauko

The final exhibition relating to Egypt is in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Entitled Coptic Textiles from the Collection of the National Museum of Slovenia it presents 53 textiles made by the Christian population in Egypt from the 3rd to the late 7th century.

Details:
National Museum of Slovenia – Metelkova, Museum Quarter Metelkova, Maistrova ulica 1, Ljubljana. Closed Mondays.

 

Duccio di Buoninsegna, Rucellai Madonna, ca. 1285, Uffizi Gallery, Florence

The next theme is Islamic textiles. OATG member Dr Federica Gigante will be giving a talk on  Islamic textiles in Medieval Europe: Trade, Circulation and Use. Islamic textiles were common in Medieval Europe. Imported by pilgrims returning from the Holy Land and traded across the Mediterranean, Islamic textiles became the staple of luxury furnishing and clothing. They adorned kings, saints, churches and palaces. Dr Gigante’s talk will address the presence and use and of such textiles, particularly in the 13th to 15th centuries, and explore their traces in fresco decorations, icon paintings, and decorative objects. Please click here to book.

Details:
Thursday 14 November, 18:00 – 19:45. The Pauling Centre, 58a Banbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6QS

 

Part of the exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art

Another take on the trade in Islamic textiles comes from the exhibition currently taking place at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Entitled Turkish Rugs on Tudor Walls: 16th-Century Trade between England and the Islamic World this exhibition examines the fundamental attraction and ambivalence between the English admiration of these sumptuous wares, and the idea of doing business with a people they deemed to be “heathen”.

Additional background to the exhibition is given in this post by the MIA. It points out that carpets were originally used as table covers and wall hangings – not floor coverings – and discusses the relationship between the Protestant Queen Elizabeth 1 and the Ottoman Empire.

Details:
Minneapolis Institute of Art, 2400 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis. Ends 7 June 2020.

 

The final item on this theme is the current exhibition at the British Museum on the subject Inspired by the East: How the Islamic World Influenced Western Art. For more details see my previous blog.

 

Man’s robe, Cameroon, mid-twentieth century. © Karun Thakar Collection

Also taking place in London but on a quite different topic is the exhibition at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, of African Textiles from the Karun Thakar Collection. This exhibition is supported by Hali who state that the “high quality material on show highlights the sophistication of historical African textiles, which have been little understood and appreciated. The exhibition examines the links between West and North African textile traditions through a selection of important and rare examples of textile art, being shown here for the first time.” Having seen many photos of this exhibition it really does look like a must see! Karun will be leading two tours of the exhibition in November. The first will be this Saturday 2 November 13:00 – 15:00 and the second on Wednesday 27 November 13:00 – 14:00.

Details:
Brunei Gallery, SOAS University of London, 10 Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG. Ends 14 December.

Thangka painting of Padmasambhava, the ‘Lotus-Born’, who is one of the most popular teacher figures in Tibet. India 1788-1805. © British Library

The British Library in London currently have an exhibition on Buddhism. Visitors are invited to follow the life of the Buddha by examining sacred texts written on tree bark, palm leaves, gold plates and exquisite silk scrolls of major sutras. This blog by Jana Igunma, lead curator, gives a very good overview of the exhibition.

Details:
The British Library, 96 Euston Road. London, NW1 2DB. Ends 23 February 2020.

 

Detail of Mandala Chandar, Kashmir circa 1840.

From 31 October until 9 November Asian Art will be celebrated in London. “Asian Art in London, founded in 1998, is an annual event held over ten days in early November, which takes place within participating galleries and auction houses. It has a global reputation uniting leading Asian art dealers, auction houses, museums and societies in a series of gallery selling exhibitions, auctions, receptions and lectures. Together they celebrate the expertise and excellence of Asian art on view in London each November, with a wide range of Asian art from the antique to contemporary and in a price range designed to suit all pockets. Participant events are complemented by exhibitions and seminars at satellite events around London and at leading London academic institutions.” – Asian Art website.

According to Hali, textile lovers should head to Ryder Street to see Jacqueline Simcox’s exhibition which features a rare kesi panel and other Chinese silk textiles. Another highlight is the Kashmir shawl (shown above) which can be seen at Simon Ray’s gallery on King Street. Read this Hali article for more details.

 

A new book on Pakistani textiles has just been published. The Flowering Desert: Textiles of Sindh was written by Nasreen and Hasan Askari and celebrates these vibrant textiles through 150 colour illustrations. Nasreen mounted the first major exhibition of textiles from this area, Colours of the Indus, which was held at the V&A in 1997 and then moved to the National Museum of Scotland.

Blouse or tunic front, silk on cotton. © Hasan and Nasreen Askari

The Guardian has an excellent article on how Nasreen’s passion for these textiles developed, describing her 50 years of collecting and her understanding of the place of textiles in society – well worth a read!

 

Dayak beaded baby carrier © FCM/MUSEC

An exhibition celebrating the art of the Dayak is now on in Lugano, Switzerland. Dayak: the art of the headhunters of Borneo has been curated by Paolo Maiullari and is reputed to be one of the largest exhibitions in the world ever made on this subject and certainly the most extensive in the last few decades, filling 14 rooms of the museum.

Gavin Strachan has written a wonderful article for the forthcoming edition of Asian Textiles with his impressions of this exhibition and some great photos to whet your appetites. He highlights some fantastic woven mats and jackets decorated with cowries, beads and bronze pendants. Asian Textiles is produced three times per year and sent out to all members of the Oxford Asian Textile Group – a major incentive to join us!

Details:
Museum of Cultures, Villa Malpensata, Riva A. Caccia 5 / via G. Mazzini 5, 6900 Lugano. Closed Tuesdays. Ends 17 May 2020.

 

 

The 7th ASEAN Traditional Textile Symposium will be held in Yogyakarta, Java, next week and has lots of OATG involvement. One of the organisers, Mariah Waworuntu is a member, as are several speakers including Chris Buckley who will give one of the keynote lectures on the subject of Weaving in ASEAN: Shared Histories, Common Themes. The talks are grouped under the following themes: “Sustainable Traditional Textiles : Design & Fashion”, “Traditional Textile Innovations” , “Traditional Textile Preservations”, “Textiles in Past-and Present-day History”, “Traditional Textiles : Motifs and Meanings”, “Trans-national Textile Connections over the Course of Time”, “Traditional Textiles: Conservation, Looms and Fibers”,  and “Empowering Women through Weaving”. A full programme can be viewed here.

 

Finally OATG member Felicity Wood has kindly informed me of some Arts Society study days taking place at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford in January. These are open to the public as well as members of the Arts Society and are likely to be very popular, hence the advance notice. Subjects include The Visual Art of Power and Rank at the Chinese Imperial Court (David Rosier) and Japanese History, Art and Culture (Suzanne Perrin). Click here for full details.

 

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Events: Textile events in the UK and beyond

 

Several new textile-related events have caught my eye this month.

The first of these is the exhibition of over 100 pieces collected over a period of forty years by Silke and Roland Weise that will take place in Traunstein, Bavaria, from 14 September to 6 October 2019. According to Hali “The Weise collection comprises an eclectic mix of knotted carpets from court and town workshops, flatweaves and bags of nomadic origin, and antique woven silks, silk embroideries, velvets and ikats. In provenance, its range extends to almost every country of the Near and Far East with any historic importance for the textile arts, including the classic sources for carpets and rugs in Persia, Turkey, the Caucasus and the Silk Road lands of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, as well as India, Tibet, China, Morocco and Egypt. Pieces span a time frame of more than 2000 years, from the 1st century BCE to around 1900. Some 120-140 items will be on show in Traunstein, with a focus on early fragments and carpets from around 1800. Many are of museum quality or of international importance, and almost 60 of them have already appeared in HALI and other international publications.”

Three of the exhibits have a radiocarbon dating from the 1st century BC, but the main focus is on early fragments from the 14th-17th centuries and rugs from around 1800.

Details: 14/09 – 06/10

Kulturforum Klosterkirche
Ludwig Straße 10, 83278 Traunstein
Wed, Thu, Fri 13:00 to 18:00
Sat, Sun 11:00 to 17:00

The Weise exhibition is linked to the upcoming ICOC Alpine Tour, as is this new exhibition at the Museum der Völker in Schwaz. Entitled Richter Guter Stoff (True Good Fabric) – Woven and Embroidered Stories this runs from 7 September 2019 to the end of February 2020. Ten German collectors have brought together examples from India, Greece, Albania, Indonesia, Central Asia – the list goes on…

Details: 07/09/19 – end of February 2020.

Museum der Völker
St. Martin 16, A-6130 Schwaz
Thu-Sun 10:00 to 17:00

Moving now to India, this month the National Museum in Delhi are showcasing the work of the Asha workshop in Varanasi. This workshop has been producing top quality silks for over 25 years, using a wide variety of techniques. Examples will be shown alongside textiles, jewellery and paintings from the National Museum’s own collection. The Asha workshop was established in the 1990s by Rahul Jain and Ruth Clifford has a very interesting interview with him on her Travels in Textiles blog.

 

Details: 10/09/19 – 08/10/19
National Museum
Janpath, Delhi

The India theme continues with an upcoming talk entitled Chasing Tensions: A lifelong pursuit of an understanding of stitch and textile by Professor Anne Morrell as part of the Oriental Rug and Textile Society (ORTS) programme in London. She is a respected artist and some images from a recent exhibition of her work can be found on the Selvedge website here. Anne is also consultant to the Calico Museum at Ahmedabad and has written many books on Indian embroidery.

 

Details: 18 September 2019
St James Piccadilly Conference Room
197 Piccadilly
London W1J 9LL

Over in the US on 21 September Martha Bluming will give a talk to the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California entitled The Octopus Enigma. In 2017 Hali published an article of the same name by Martha (Issue 193, pp76-85) in which she described how she and her husband Avrum had acquired a beaded sarong, known as a lawo butu, in an auction two years earlier.

Fascinated by this unusual textile Martha set out to discover more about how it was used and what the motifs on it signified. Its two main uses were in the muré rain dance – performed in periods of extended drought – and during the reroofing of a clan house. She pursued many different avenues of research into this textile – consulting experts on ancient beads, specialists in marine biology, and perhaps most significantly, having threads from the sarong carbon 14 dated. The results gave quite a wide range of dates, with Roy Hamilton of the Fowler Museum being fairly confident it dated to the period 1650-1800.

A beaded lawo butu sarong being worn over another longer sarong in the village of Nggela, on the Indonesian island of Flores.

Much of Martha’s Hali article – and presumably her upcoming talk – focused on the motif which local people referred to as an octopus. Was this simply an octopus, or did it convey other meanings associated with female fertility? More background on Martha’s textile can be found here.

Details:

Saturday, September 21, 2019, Refreshments 10 a.m., Programme 10:30 a.m.
Luther Hall, Lower Level St. Bede’s Episcopal Church
3590 Grand View Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90066-1904

There is a charge of $10 for non-members

A three yuan cloth note from 1933

Last but certainly not least, back in the UK on 26 September Dr Paul Bevan will give a talk to the OATG in Oxford on Chinese Cloth Banknotes. In China the Communist revolution began in the 1920s and many base areas were set up known as “Soviets”. The largest of these was the Jianxi Soviet, set up by Mao Zedong in 1931. Many of these Soviets issued their own currency – both coins and paper money. In at least one area, due to a shortage of paper, money was printed onto cotton cloth. Examples can be found in many museums, including the British Museum and the Ashmolean.

Dr Bevan will examine  the iconography used in these banknotes. This one shows the hammer and sickle, clenched fist, and the slogan Workers of the World, Unite. He will discuss how this imitates Russian Constructivist design and modern Art Deco. According to him “It is this aspect of Soviet Russian art and design, adopted by the creators of the cloth banknote in this remote area of China in 1933, that makes it so important in the fields of numismatics, textile history, and the history of art and design in China.”

A five FEN paper note with similar design features

Many of these notes had slogans such as “Uphold the soviet economic policies, break through the enemy’s financial blockade”, “Guarantee active trade and unify the currency standard”, “Land to the farmers, jurisdiction to the soviet. Eight hours work!”. An interesting article by John E. Sandrock with lots more examples and images can be found here. More details can be found on the Eventbrite page here. Do join us for what is sure to be a fascinating talk – who knew that a simple banknote could tell us so much?

Details:

Thursday, 26th of September 2019, 6 pm for a 6.15 pm start
The Pauling Centre, 58a Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6QS
Free for members and £3 for non-members

 

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Event: Lloyd Cotsen and His Textiles – A Lifetime of Collecting and Connoisseurship

 

Fragment from a ramayana, India for the Indonesian market. ©Lloyd E. Cotsen

Event date: 10 August 2019, Los Angeles

Lloyd Cotsen died in 2017 but his legacy lives on in his textiles. This talk by Lyssa Stapleton is part of the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California (TMA/SC) regular programme of events. Lyssa is the Curator of The Cotsen Collection, Los Angeles and Consulting Curator for the Cotsen Textile Traces Collection at The Textile Museum in Washington, D.C.

“For more than 70 years Lloyd Cotsen collected experiences, objects, and knowledge that mirrored and exemplified his profound interest in the world around him. As the CEO of Neutrogena Corporation, he began to assemble several world-class collections including folk art, textiles, Japanese bamboo baskets, and children’s books. His nearly comprehensive textile study collection, known as Textile Traces, has recently been donated to the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum. An exploration of this collection reveals how his extraordinary appreciation for human creativity led him to become an inquisitive and acquisitive collector, and illustrate how his life experiences contributed to his deep commitment to children’s literature, the history of weaving technology, to the support of declining artistic traditions and living artists and to the stewardship of the objects he acquired.” TMA/SC newsletter.

A 1787 book with samples of tapa cloth collected by Captain Cook during his Pacific voyages. © Lloyd E. Cotsen

In 2018 the George Washington University and The Textile Museum was gifted over 4000 textiles along with an endowment to support further study.  A study centre with state of the art equipment also forms part of this bequest. You can read more on this, as well as viewing a great selection of images of textiles from the collection here.

Location:

Luther Hall, Lower Level St. Bede’s Episcopal Church

3590 Grand View Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90066-1904

Refreshments will be available from 10;00 and the programme will begin at 10:30. This is free for members of the TMA/SC, guests are welcome for an admission charge of $10.

 

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Exhibitions: Peruvian and Guatemalan Textiles in London and the USA

Today’s blog focusses on two exhibitions featuring textiles from South and Central America.

Exhibition dates: 21 June – 8 September 2019

A proto-Nazca culture tapestry. Photo courtesy of Paul Hughes Fine Art.

The first of these is Weavers of the Clouds: Textile Arts of Peru which recently opened at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London. This exhibition has traditional textiles on one floor and those by contemporary designers on another. Running alongside the main exhibition is a display entitled A Thread: Contemporary Art of Peru, which showcases the work of seventeen Peruvian artists.

Hugh Thomson, the author of Cochineal Red, has written a very interesting article about this exhibition for The Design Edit. In it he stresses the importance textiles have always had in Peruvian culture and how when the “conquistadors arrived in 1532, they could not understand why so many Inca warehouses were stocked with textiles rather than gold or silver, which the indigenous people considered less valuable.”  Among the many highlights of the exhibition are thirteen pieces from the British Museum, a hat which dates to 600 AD and a tunic made of macaw feathers.

Some of the pieces from Peruvian artists such as Meche Correa and Chiara Macchievello are simply stunning, with intricate embroidery and weaving techniques. A dress that was inspired by Peruvian designs, but was actually part of a Vivienne Westwood collection, also features.

Floral skirt designed by Meche Correa. Photo © Momtaz Begum-Hossain.

For full details of opening hours and how to book visit the website of the Fashion and Textile Museum.

Location: Fashion and Textile Museum. 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF

 

Exhibition dates: 21 July – 13 October 2019

 

The second exhibition is on at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles and looks at Mayan Traje: A Tradition in Transition. This exhibition explores how the clothing of the Maya of Guatemala was once specific to each village, and how and why that is changing over time.

Photo © Rachael Myrow/KQED

Rachael Myrow has written an article for KQED Arts giving more background to how this exhibition came about and the links to Mayan people who now call San Francisco their home. Many of the textiles on display come from private collections and date to the early twentieth century.

For full details visit the website of the museum.

Location: Turner and Gilliland Galleries, San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, 520 S. First Street, San Jose, California.

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Feature: The Lesser Sunda Islands of Indonesia

Publication of this guest blog is for information only and does not indicate an endorsement of this tour by the OATG.

THE LESSER SUNDA ISLANDS OF INDONESIA

OATG member Jenny Spancake recently joined a Textile Tour of the Lesser Sunda Islands of Indonesia on which fellow OATG members David and Sue Richardson were the textile experts. Here she shares her some of her experiences:-

My husband and I moved to Kuala Lumpur in 1983. One of our first trips in the region was to Bali where a friend asked if I would buy her a piece of ikat; this was my introduction to this technique. As an embroiderer, I was fascinated with ikat and wanted to learn more about it. Living in a number of locations around the world, including around four years in Thailand and seven in total in Kuala Lumpur, I was able to learn quite a bit about the ikat textiles of Southeast Asia. However living in mainland Southeast Asia meant I focused on weft ikat, mostly done on silk, and these are the type of ikats we began to collect. With travels to India, Central and South America and Central Asia, I broadened the base of that knowledge. What was needed to close the circle of study was a trip to the islands of Indonesia.

The perfect opportunity came in May 2019 with a trip to the Lesser Sunda Islands with David and Sue Richardson. As these islands we visited are part of the province of Indonesia known as Nusa Tenggara Timur I will refer to them as NTT. Traveling with the Richardsons was a good choice for us as they are very willing to share the knowledge of Indonesia and its textiles that they have gained over many years. The Richardsons focus on the textile techniques and visit only villages that still do natural dyeing.   As my husband’s undergraduate degree is in Chemical Engineering, he was eager to travel with someone as interested in the chemistry of natural dyes as David Richardson is.   The islands of NTT were perfect – a gorgeous landscape with fascinating textiles still woven in the traditional way with natural dyes.

Cotton threads which were bound with strips of a palm leaf and then dyed indigo.

At each village we visited we were welcomed by villagers dressed in their traditional costume, dancing their traditional dances and perhaps the most unexpected joy, playing their traditional music. Videos truly are the only way to capture the magic of these moments. The music is not heard looking at pictures in books and the music is the way the spirit of the village is actually captured. We were entertained in one village by a man playing the hoe as the main performer. In still another village, it was obvious that when they had done the planned program, they continued to play and sing for the sheer joy of the music. These are the moments that only visiting in person can provide.

This man was having such fun and creating great sounds just by hitting his hoe with a stone!

A visit to the village of Lamalera was of twofold interest – of course, we saw textiles. But we also talked to the villagers about their traditional livelihood of whaling and saw a demonstration of how they actually practice it. It is very easy for us in the West to see whaling as only the large scale enterprise that has a negative impact on the existence of whales. We forget that traditionally villages existed in harmony with the environment and depended and still depend on the whales for food and products. Risking their lives to harpoon a whale is a different way of life. The number of whales taken by a village is also a small fraction of that worldwide. [Editor’s note: this is the village where OATG founder Ruth Barnes did much of her research].

A demonstration of traditional whaling from a small boat at Lamalera.

In every village we saw demonstrations of the entire process of creating a textile from picking the cotton, processing it, spinning, dyeing, tying, and then the weaving process. In NTT textiles are produced in cotton in the warp ikat technique. As stated above, one of the things that most appealed to us about this tour was its emphasis on natural dyeing. Natural dyes are making a comeback in some parts of the world, but it is in fact an uphill battle. It is more expensive to use natural dyes because it takes more time to create the desired color. Synthetic dyes are much quicker, so cheaper in the long run when the final price of the piece is considered. In today’s market it is difficult for a weaver to charge a price that reflects the extra time spent in using natural dyes. Also part of the price must reflect the time it takes to produce a multi-colored complex design in ikat. Therefore, what tourists generally see are textiles produced with synthetic colors and a very simple ikat design – which exactly describes my first purchase. But as I learned more about ikat and dyes, I began to desire the more complex, naturally dyed examples. Steve and I have always tried to buy the most well produced pieces as we travel to encourage women to keep weaving at a high quality. Weavers must be able to earn a fair wage so that traditional textiles can continue to be made.

Patterns showing naga, which is very traditional in many parts of Southeast Asia.

I plan to describe just a few interesting experiences from the trip. First, natural dyeing involves a complicated chemical process. Dyers in the villages use both inherited knowledge plus trial and error today to create a wide range of colors.   In NTT the two major colors are indigo (blue) and morinda (red). It is very interesting to see that each village had its own variation on using these dyes.   Indigo is perhaps one of the most common dyes used around the world. Morinda is less well known and I will concentrate on this dye.

Threads dyed with morinda at a workshop on Timor.

Please note that I have used the website of David and Sue Richardson, Asian Textile Studies, as my source for the information detailed here. A great deal more information is included on that website than I will present here. On this trip we saw very detailed demonstrations of how red and brown colors are achieved by using this dye.   This can take a huge amount of root to complete the process to achieve the color desired for the finished textile. Once the bark is collected and prepared to begin to dye, a complex process begins.   Cotton that is to be dyed with morinda must be pretreated and a mordant must be used to fix the color. In NTT the most frequently used mordant is the leaf or bark of the tree belonging to the genus Symplocos. I was intrigued to learn that what made this possible was that the tree draws aluminium from the soil and accumulates it in the leaves and bark. Once processed these produce aluminium salts that then act as a mordant.

However, this process does not work unless the cotton is prepared before the dye made from morinda is applied. The first part of this preparatory process is cleaning the cotton. This is done by washing the yarn in water filtered through wood ash, thus creating an alkaline solution.   Then the cotton must be soaked in oil made from the candlenut tree, widely known as kemiri. Oil is produced from the candlenuts themselves. I have just described in a very simplistic way how cotton is dyed with morinda; for those interested in more detail and the chemistry of this process, please consult the morinda page of the Richardson’s website. The final process of any dyeing sequence is to rinse the cotton in water and here was the insight that interested me most.   I had of course read about the dramatic difference credited to the water of certain production areas when oriental rugs are woven and then washed after their completion. But for some reason I never carried that thought on to natural dyes and cotton and silk textiles.   It was one of those ideas that floats around in your mind but then one day you suddenly say, “Of course, the water is the final important piece of the dyeing puzzle.”   Water is a localized issue; each source of water has its own particular chemical makeup and the minerals present are the final creator of the color produced by the natural dye in question. Pointed out by the Richardsons on this trip, I finally saw the obvious.

Adding alkaline ash water to the morinda dye bath.

Although the main colors that we saw produced were blue and red from indigo and morinda, on one particular island we saw an astonishing array of different colors – all from natural dyes. This was on the tiny island of Ternate where we saw how they made dyes from a huge variety of plants as well as sea sponges and, most fascinating of all, a gastropod called a sea hare. We were told they had dived at 5am to get these creatures, which release purple ink as a defense mechanism. The innards are also used to make a pale green color and finally the sea hare is cooked and eaten so nothing is wasted.

An amazing demonstration of dyeing on Ternate.

Another highlight was our visit to the workshop of Freddy Hambuwali on Sumba. Modern hinggi, a man’s cloth with a long history, are created with a very high standard of warp ikat and finishing.   We were able to see all of these steps, beginning with the drawing of the pattern on the warps. I was particularly interested in the beautiful shade of indigo blue produced here. The ikat threads are dyed with indigo and morinda but a different method is used in Sumba to add a yellow dye – it is painted on after the weaving of the hinggi.   Another Sumbanese method is used to finish the hinggi; the hinggi is turned and the warp threads become the weft as a band called a kabakil is woven on to the bottom to create a finished end to stop the threads from unraveling.

The hinggi produced here are very detailed and are made in a wide variety of designs. We also learned about the computation of bundles of threads to facilitate the process of tying and dyeing. I myself was most attracted to the hinggi that are so obviously based on the patterns of Indian patola cloths. These patola have been a high status cloth in Indonesia for hundreds of years and are preserved as heirlooms in many households in the islands.   The layout of many Indonesian textiles can be seen to originate in the design of patola. Involving complex ikat, these hinggi were for me personally the most interesting ones.

I have oversimplified all of the aspects of weaving and dyeing just briefly mentioned here and have omitted so much, especially the supplementary warp weaving techniques we encountered.

Supplementary warp weaving on Sumba. Here we are being shown how the pattern is kept on sticks.

And I have not even begun to describe all of the villages visited, the many rewarding encounters with villagers and all that I learned. I relaxed on the beautiful Ombak Putih with its attentive crew, delicious food and comfortable cabins, learned so many new things about textiles, experienced new cultures in majestic landscapes and made new friends. I doubt one can ask for more in life.

What I really wanted to express to readers is the great joy that I experienced throughout this trip, which is extremely well designed and lends itself to a constant learning experience.  We’ve been on many textile tours, quite a few led by textile experts, but none of these leaders have ever been so generous with their knowledge as David and Sue – they love Indonesian culture so much it’s infectious and inspires you to want to learn more We’re always looking for trips that focus on textiles and this one exceeded our expectations.

For full details of this tour visit the Tour page of Asian Textile Studies or email David and Sue directly.

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Event: Caucasian Textiles and Carpets in the Georgian National Museum

Event date: Tuesday 2 July 2019 18:00

Fresh from giving a paper at the HALI Symposium we are delighted that Professor Dr Irina Koshoridze will give a talk to the OATG on the subject of Caucasian Textiles and Carpets in the Georgian National Museum. In it she will present the richness and variety of Caucasian textiles, carpets, and traditional costumes found in the museums of Tbilisi. She will explore how traditional arts and crafts techniques changed and developed against the background of different political circumstances in Georgia. Products of a thoroughfare between East and West, Caucasian textiles from the Georgian region reveal the influences of the Persians and Ottomans who variously ruled over the region and much of the Orthodox Christian world.

© Federica Gigante

Dr Irina Koshoridze is Professor of Art History and Theory at the State University in Tbilisi and Chief Curator of the Georgian National Museum, as well as Director of the State Museum of Folk and Applied Arts of Georgia. She has co-authored several books including Stars of the Caucasus: Antique Azerbaijan Silk Embroideries, Flat-Woven Rugs & Textiles from the Caucasus, Treasures of the Georgian National Museum, and the Oriental Collections of the Georgian National Museum.

© Federica Gigante

© Federica Gigante

Unfortunately the future direction of one of these museums seems to now be under threat. Earlier this year the Museum of Folk and Applied Arts was put under the care of the Georgian Museum of Cinema, Theatre, Choreography and Music – clearly not a suitable fit for it. William Dunbar, journalist and long-time Georgia resident, wrote an article about this for HALI – see image below – describing how the Folk and Applied Arts museum traces its roots to an attempt in the late nineteenth century by the Russians to encourage handicraft enterprises in this area. They made a detailed record of all of the textiles they could find at that time, which included taking photographs of classic Caucasian rugs in the places where they were originally found. 

© William Dunbar. Shared with his kind permission.

 

 

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

Date: Tuesday, 2nd of July 2019

Time: 6 pm for a 6.15 pm start

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

 

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Events: Textile events in London and Singapore

Lots of exciting textile events happening soon!

22 – 30 June

It’s going to be a busy week in London with the Handcrafted Heritage events celebrating Indian textiles at The Bhavan in West Kensington, which is the largest centre for classical Indian arts and culture outside of India. A free exhibition and sale will showcase heritage textiles including Benarasis, Patan Patolas, and Dhakai Jamdanis and vintage silver jewellery.

On Wednesday 26th and Saturday 29th June there will be a workshop devoted to patolas. The tutor for this workshop will be Shri Kanubhai Salvi, a master weaver and holder of the UNESCO Seal of Excellence Award. His family have been producing these double ikat textiles in Patan for many generations.

Photo courtesy of Patan Patola Heritage

Also on 26 June (but in the evening) there will be a screening of the fascinating documentary Legend of the Loom, which tells the story of Bengal muslin and how the trade in it flourished and then declined. The screening will be followed by a conversation session with its producer Saiful Islam. An excellent review of this film by Hannah Sayer can be found here.

 

21 June- 8 September 2019

Opening shortly at the Fashion and Textile Museum, London, is an exhibition entitled Weavers of the Clouds: Textile Arts of Peru. This exhibition ” explores the processes and practices of both historic and contemporary Peruvian costume via garments, textiles, photographs, tools, illustrations and paintings, dating from pre-Hispanic to present day.”

Photo courtesy of Fashion and Textile Museum

There will be a panel on the opening day discussing Peruvian Fashion with several of the designers whose work is featured in the exhibition along with its curator. Attendance at the panel is free with an exhibition ticket, but places must be booked as numbers are limited.

Contemporary designs by Mozhdeh Matin, who works with artisans and champions Peruvian textiles and techniques

24 – 30 June 2019

HALI London – this is a series of events to celebrate the 200th edition and 40th year of HALI. These include a fair with twenty of the best international dealers in attendance, a 6-day tour of Great British Collections, two symposia – each with twelve lectures, and a whole series of miscellaneous events. Full information can be found on their website. Please note that several of the events have already sold out – so act quickly if you want to book for those that are still available!

Selected highlights:-

The exhibition at Francesca Galloway’s gallery entitled Textile Splendours From The East. “The gallery will present a plethora of textiles from Asia, including a magnificent Sogdian costume, a delicate Ming period needle loop embroidery, Indian chintzes for domestic and export markets, as well as textiles made for spiritual pursuits.”

One of the items featured in Francesca Galloway’s exhibition

The other event that really stands out (of those that are not already sold out) is the visit to the Karun Thakar Collection. Participants will go to Karun’s private residence where they will be able to view his extraordinary collection. This includes Asian textiles ranging from 14th century Indian Trade cloths to folk textiles and costumes from Central Asia, Japan, Bhutan and Afghanistan; African textiles—predominantly narrow loom weavings from Ghana, Nigeria and other West African countries, plus North African embroideries, veils and haiks from Morocco and Tunisia.(Information from Hali website). You can browse through images of some of his collection here.

Winter chuba from Western Tibet

15 June – 15 September 2019

Finally a new exhibition has just opened at the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore. Guo Pei: Chinese Art and Couture showcases twenty pieces from the Museum’s own collection along with twenty nine pieces created by the designer.

Image courtesy of the Asian Civilisations Museum.

Curator led tours will be held on 26 June, 31 July and 28 August and can be booked via the museum website. Steven G. Alpert has pulled together a huge amount of information about this exhibition on his excellent website Art of the Ancestors. It has stunning images and information on the links with the Peranakan – the golden bridal dress is simply a work of art! It seems pointless for me to attempt to replicate Steven’s piece so instead I simply recommend you click here to read it.

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Article:- Spirit House

Anyone who has ever visited many parts of Southeast Asia will be familiar with the sight of spirit houses, often with food, drink and candles on them. In this article in the Asian Art Newspaper Michael Young tells the story of one young Cambodian artists passion for rescuing these iconic small shrines.

In 1963 a huge housing complex known as the White House was built on the riverfront in Phnom Penh. Many of the apartments in this complex had spirit houses – some were elaborate and some were simple. At one time this housed over 2000 people. It was emptied in 1975 under the Khmer Rouge and remained unoccupied until 1979. Gradually people began to move back in and it became the home of many artists and musicians. Vuth Lyno set up an art-run space there many years later, working from there until the buildings were demolished in 2017.

Young describes how a once socially cohesive society began to fragment when people accepted the small payments offered to them by developers, then found they could not buy anywhere in the city for that price and so drifted away to the suburbs. The buildings were emptied over a period of just three days, during which time Vuth ran from apartment to apartment rescuing as many spirit houses as he could. He used over 80 of these to produce a 4 metre high installation entitled House – Spirit 2018 which was shown at a major exhibition in Brisbane and later bought by QAGOMA, Brisbane.

 

 

 

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Exhibition: Vanishing Costumes of the Shan Saophas

Exhibition dates: 9-18 June 2019, National Museum, Yangon.

 

Until the late 1950s chiefs known as Saopha or Sawbwa were responsible for the administration of the Shan State of Burma. This exhibition, which is only open for 9 days, showcases a total of 27 costumes which are over a hundred years old. The majority of these costumes previously belonged to prominent men, but there is also one costume which belonged to the Shan Princess Mahardevi Sao Nan Yar. The most important costumes belonged to Sao Shwe Thike, the first President of Burma, and his father Sar Sao Maung.

 

Sao Shwe Thike

These costumes were brought to the National Museum in Yangon from the Nyaung Shwe Cultural Museum, Shan State, in 2017 with the intention of having them properly restored and preserved. These costumes include textiles, silk, brocade, cotton, metals and precious stones.

For more information see this article in the Myanmar Times by Lae Phya Myo Myint. 

 

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