Exhibition: Costume and Custom – Middle Eastern Threads at Olana

Exhibition dates: 17 June – 25 November 2018

This exhibition in the former home of the American artist Frederic Church (1826-190) will highlight for the first time the historic costumes Church collected during his 1867-68 journey to Beirut, Damascus, Jerusalem, Petra and other Middle Eastern cities. They will be displayed within the historic rooms of Olana’s main house, whose design was inspired by Churches’ Middle Eastern travels, and Olana’s Sharp Family Gallery will present new research on the collection and its relationship to Church’s work and that of his contemporaries, including Church’s friend and guest at Olana, Mark Twain.

The exhibition will reunite Church’s historic costume collection with both Church’s artwork that it helped to inspire and inform, and the rich interiors of his home that he filled with objects and decorative details inspired by his Middle Eastern travels. In one extraordinary case these are one and the same. Within Isabel Church’s Sitting Room hangs Church’s master work “El Khasné, Petra” (1874), whose foreground features figures clothed in the costume pieces Church brought back to his studio, and which inspired the decoration of the room, especially the decorative painted pseudo-Arabic inscriptions that run throughout the space.

The wide array of historic costumes, often intricately embroidered, reflects the extraordinary craft and creativity of the Middle Eastern people who created it and speaks as well to the evolution of ideas of gender and cultural identity in the Middle East and beyond. A publication developed in conjunction with this exhibition will include essays by costume historian Lynne Bassett and Palestinian costume expert Hanan Karaman Munayyer on the people who originally wore the clothing collected by Church and on the artist’s use of the historic costume in his home and art.

For more information visit the Olana website.

Location: Olana State Historic Site, 5720 State Route 9G, Hudson, NY 12534

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Exhibition: Ornamental Traditions – Jewelry from Bukhara

Exhibition dates: 13 July 2018 – 30 June 2019

Located in present-day Uzbekistan, the Emirate of Bukhara (1785–1920) was an important centre of Islamic religion and scholarship and a major oasis on the famous Silk Road that traversed Central Asia from ancient times. As such, it was highly diverse—home to the majority Uzbek and Tajik populations in addition to communities of Arabs, Jews, and Turkmen who played a role in the emirate’s vibrant trade. Over time, Bukhara developed its own iconic style of jewellery characterised by intricate blue enamelwork that mirrored the region’s blue-glazed, tiled architecture. Russia’s colonisation of Bukhara in 1866 brought with it more advanced enamelling techniques, allowing for increasingly complex designs.

In almost every context, the jewellery of Bukhara embodied great meaning and was rarely considered mere decoration. Large, ornate suits of jewellery were thought to protect the wearer from evil spirits, particularly during important events like weddings, and were the strongest assertion of a person’s power and wealth. Throughout Uzbekistan, such objects were designed to be worn as sets rather than exist as singular pieces.

More than fifty pieces of jewellery from the collection of Barbara and David Kipper are currently on show in Gallery 150 of the Art Institute of Chicago.

A gallery talk led by Alice Boone will take place on 27 November 12:00 -13:00.

For further information visit the website of the Art Institute of Chicago

Exhibition: Peacock in the Desert – The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India

Exhibition dates: 18 October 2018 – 21 January 2019

This exhibition, previously shown in Houston, has now moved to Seattle.

Five centuries of magnificent art celebrate the rich artistic traditions of the kingdom of Marwar-Jodhpur. Many of the 250 extraordinary objects are on display outside their palace setting for the very first time. Vibrant paintings, intricate furnishings, fine jewellery, and decorated arms and armour, presented beside videos and large-scale photomurals, evoke the stunning atmosphere of the Mehrangarh Fort and the city of Jodhpur—the permanent home of the works on view.

Established in the 15th century, the kingdom of Marwar-Jodhpur in the northwestern state of Rajasthan continues to innovate support for the arts into the 21st century. Highlights of the lavish exhibition include a re-creation of a royal wedding procession featuring majestically adorned life-size elephant and horse mannequins; a rare and elaborate 17th-century tent; dozens of intricate Rajput and Mughal era paintings; and a splendid 18th-century carved-wood and glass palanquin, known as the Mahadol, used to transport the maharaja and queens.

A short video of the wedding procession section of the exhibition can be viewed here

Full information on the exhibition can be found on the website of the Seattle Art Museum

Exhibition: Waves of Renewal – Japanese Prints 1900-1960

Exhibition dates: 6 October 2018 – 6 January 2019

To celebrate the Year of Japan in France, the Fondation Custodia in Paris presents an important retrospective exhibition of early twentieth-century Japanese prints.

Waves of renewal. Modern Japanese Prints 1900-1960 offers an exciting opportunity to discover, almost for the first time in France, the work of artists who bear witness to the twentieth-century modernisation of Japan. It explores the twin movements of shin hanga and sōsaku hanga through more than two hundred prints – the work of about fifty artists.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, two movements were born in Japan, each representing a different response to this new deal and of fascinating diversity. The printer Watanabe Shōzaburō (1885-1962) became anxious about the flow of prints to the West, and also by the dwindling of the technical skills required for the production of high quality prints. He decided to seek out artists capable of reviving printmaking and of creating a new style, without dispensing with the traditional division of labour – in other words, four people working in collaboration, the artist, the engraver, the printer and the publisher. The movement inspired by Watanabe is called shin hanga, or ‘new print’. The subject of these ‘new prints’ remained within the traditional categories – landscape, portraits of women and actors, flowers and birds in innovative styles.

Inspired by western practice, and keen to raise the status of printmaking, the partisans of sōsaku hanga wanted to give back to the artist control of all the stages of production, without the intervention of specialised craftsmen such as the engraver or the printer. The mark of the chisel on the block of wood became the expression of the artist’s personality, as was the calligrapher’s or painter’s brushstroke on paper. By comparison with the prints of shin hanga, the results can be of rougher quality and can be marked by a feeling of spontaneity, of the impromptu – sometimes seeming unfinished.

For further information visit the website of the Fondation Custodia

Exhibition: Enchanting China – Costumes, Jewellery, Utensils and Accessories from the Miao and Dong

Exhibition dates: 13 November 2018 – 27 January 2019, Tuesdays to Sundays

This exhibition at the Museum Rijswijk, near The Hague, is showing objects from the collection of Mieke Gorter. For years, together with her ethnic Dong tour operator and guide Wu Zeng Ou, Gorter has organised cultural tours through south-western China where the Miao and Dong people live. She has always kept her eyes open for hidden treasures and has built a beautiful collection of costumes, jewellery, accessories and utilitarian objects.

Several ethnic minorities live in the mountainous southwest region of China, in the province of Guizhou. The Miao are one of the largest groups (9 million people) and live throughout this area along with other minority groups like the Dong (3 million). Over the centuries the Miao migrated throughout the southern part of China and in all of the different villages where they settled they developed their own form of dress. There are some 175 to 200 different kinds of traditional Miao costumes! The groups are often named on the basis of their clothing. For example, there are the Long-horn Miao, the Long-skirt Miao, the Red-embroidery Miao and the Tin- embroidery Miao. While the Miao usually live in the mountains, the Dong can be found near the rivers. They are renowned for their beautiful wooden bridges and towers.

Among the Miao and the Dong there is always a reason to celebrate something – a wedding, the birth of a child, a finished house – and they wear their traditional clothing on these occasions. The women are prolific in their artisanal crafts, such as weaving, painting with indigo dyes, batik techniques and embroidery (this is what they are most famous for). Headdress, collars, jackets, skirts, aprons and baby carriers, everything is extravagantly embroidered. The festive garb is then lavished with ornate silver hairpins and necklaces.

For more information visit the website of the Museum Rijswijk

Event: Following The Flow Of Indigo In Africa

Event date: Saturday, November 10, 2018, 10am

For those who crave indigo, a journey to Africa is recommended. This virtual tour, presented by Pamela McClusky, shows how indigo has been adapted to multiple uses across many countries, revealing where this dye has had a pronounced impact.

The journey starts in ancient Egypt, to see a kerchief used by King Tutankhamun that retains the deep hue of a majestic aesthetic. Moving southwest, it follows the path of camels to the Tuareg, or the Blue People, as their clothes and skin are saturated with indigo. From there, a caravan leads to Kano, Nigeria which is renowned for its distinctive dedication to dye pits that are hundreds of years old and still in active use today. Moving south to Abeokuta the unique transformation of white cloth shipped to Nigeria by British colonists is investigated. How the women of this city invented a flourishing vocabulary of designs filled with proverbs, symbols and meanings is an epic chapter of textile history in the 20th century.

For more information visit the website of the Textile Arts Council

Event location: Koret Auditorium, de Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco CA 94118

 

Event: Pop-Up Palaces – A journey through 1000 years of Egypt’s ceremonial tent-making tradition

 

Event date: Wednesday 14 November 2018, 18:30-20:30

In one of medieval Cairo’s last remaining covered streets is a community of tentmakers whose work has transformed the Egyptian landscape at times of celebration and festivity. For at least a millennium, these craftsmen have created magnificent handstitched cotton pavilions of a thousand colours which have entertained kings and country folk alike, awed enemies, and brought powerful sultans to tears.

Discover the stories of this fascinating craft through the voices of its craftsmen and patrons, past and present. Get to handle some of the treasures of this remarkable textile tradition, and immerse yourself in a little-known treasure-trove of Islamic art.

Seif El Rashidi is a historian of Islamic art who worked in historic Cairo for a decade, where he was first captivated by the tentmakers, and their splendid textile creations. This talk and textile handling session is the result of several years of research into the tent making tradition, leading to his newly published book The Tentmakers of Cairo: Egypt’s Medieval and Modern Applique Craft, (with Sam Bowker). 

For more details and booking click here

Location: Leighton House Museum, 12 Holland Park Rd, London, W14 8LZ

 

Exhibition: From Kabul to Kolkata – Of Belonging, Memories and Identity

 

 

Exhibition dates: 11 October – 15 December 2018 (Closed Sundays and Mondays)

Afghans have travelled to India for centuries but it was in 1892 that they were given a romantic, and lasting identity. This link was set into history when India’s most famous modern poet and one of its greatest cultural icons, Rabindranath Tagore, penned his short story about the Kabuliwala or man from Kabul.

This exhibition of photographs by Moska Najib and Nazes Afroz concerns a specific intra-Asian connection between Afghans and Indians that highlights larger historical patterns of trans-Asian migration, cultural resilience and transformation, and shifting senses of self, community and home.

While until a few decades ago, real Kabuliwalas were a common sight on the streets of Kolkata, as in most cities of north and central India, today stereotypes and standard attributes have formed an ambiguous image of these people. Moska Najib, an Afghan by origin but living in India for most of her life, says, ‘Being away from my homeland, I’ve been always drawn to the themes of identity and new belonging. This inspired me to photograph one of the oldest settled Afghan communities in India in modern times.”

More information about the project, including a short video, can be found on the From Kabul to Kolkata website. If you click on the “More” link at the top, you can access further background information. Moska describes how during their first encounter with the community, they realised that they kept a dual existence – one inside their home and one outside. In their abode, they’d wear their traditional attire and follow the typical customs observed in Afghanistan – the habit of sitting on the carpet and not on sofas or chairs, sharing a communal meal from the same platter, using the spittoons and drinking endless cups of green tea.

For more information about the exhibition visit the website of the Brunei Gallery

Location: Brunei Gallery Exhibition Rooms at SOAS, 10 Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H  0XG

Exhibition: Painting the Floating World – Ukiyo-e Masterpieces from the Weston Collection

Exhibition dates: 4 November 2018 – 27 January 2019

Although this exhibition doesn’t feature textiles themselves, the textiles depicted in the paintings are fascinating.

In the 17th century, Kyoto, Osaka, and Edo (now Tokyo) were Japan’s thriving cities, complete with bustling entertainment districts where ukiyo, or the “floating world,” was born. People of all ranks shared in the enjoyment of the floating world’s attractions—brothels, kabuki theatre, and seasonal festivities. Artists of the period captured this popular phenomena in ukiyo-e, or “pictures of the floating world.” Over the last 25 years, Roger Weston has assembled an outstanding collection of ukiyo-e paintings—masterpieces by the most famed artists of the day. This exhibition at the Art Institute Chicago, the first public showing of his comprehensive ukiyo-e painting collection in the United States, showcases the sheer beauty of floating world painting and offers an exclusive view of the urban amusements of early modern Japan.

Accompanied by a 350-page catalogue that includes major new essays by leading scholars, Painting the Floating World features over 150 works from the 17th through the 19th century. Each painting offers an exquisite glimpse of the past; as a whole the exceptional collection reveals ukiyo-e’s rich connection to trends in fashion, beauty, and cultural life over centuries.

A very interesting article on one of these masterpieces – Hell Courtesan by Kawanabe Kyosai – can be read here
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Exhibition: Meiji – The Splendours of Imperial Japan

Exhibition dates: 17 October 2018 – 14 January 2019

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Meiji era (1868-1912), this exhibition at the Musée Guimet, Paris, highlights the explosion of creativity in Japanese arts at a time of transition in the country’s history. The period  when Japan opened to the West, and swift modernisation, industrialisation, and militarisation followed, which consequently brought growth in the cities.

Over 350 works of art are on view, on loan from French and international institutions, such as the  Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Musée d’Orsay, Victoria & Albert Museum, and the British Museum, as well as the Khalili Collection of Japanese Art.

The Meiji was a time of great change for Japan, which used its artistic heritage, as one response, to help the country move forward to meet the  challenges and demands of the new century. The Meiji period transformed Japan from a medieval, feudal past  to a modern, international country, equipped to meet and compete in the modern increasingly globalised world, without entirely giving up its own identity.

An excellent in-depth article on the exhibition can be found on the website of the Asian Art Newspaper.

Location: Musée Guimet, 6 place d’léna, 75116 Paris