Exhibition: Empire of the Sikhs

 

Exhibition dates: 12 July – 23 September 2018

This major free exhibition telling the story of the last great native kingdom which challenged the British for supremacy of the Indian subcontinent opens today. The Sikh Empire (1799–1849), which spanned much of modern day Pakistan and northwest India, was forged by the ‘Napoleon of the East’ Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780–1839) who became known as Sher-e-Punjab, the Lion of Punjab, over his forty-year reign.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh established a powerful military meritocracy that included many European officers. His empire offered a crucial buffer state between the British and incursions via the Khyber Pass. The one-eyed king was a trusted ally of the British but also a potentially formidable opponent.

The inevitable clash with the British came in the form of two bitterly fought Anglo-Sikh Wars (1845–46, 1848–49) in which British pre-eminence hung in the balance as they came within hours of a total surrender. But through treachery, victory was turned into defeat for the Sikhs whose territories, treasury and fighting men became incorporated into British dominion.

A source of great interest to British visitors to the Sikh royal court prior to annexation was the Koh-i-Noor diamond, which was wrested from Afghan hands in 1813. The fabled jewel was eventually presented to Queen Victoria on 3 July 1850 in the armlet that Ranjit Singh had specially made for it. Fitted with a rock crystal replica of the original, uncut Koh-i-Noor, it is now preserved as part of the Royal Collection and will be one of the highlights on display along with a stunning array of over 100 objects and works of art from leading private and public collections.

Among them will be glittering jewellery and weaponry from the Sikh Empire including personal items that belonged to Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the most famous of his thirty ‘official’ wives, Maharani Jind Kaur. They were the parents of the deposed boy-king Maharaja Duleep Singh and grandparents to prominent suffragette (and goddaughter to Queen Victoria), Princess Sophia Duleep Singh.

For more information visit the website of the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London.

Advertisements

Exhibition: Four Corners of One Cloth – Textiles from the Islamic World

 

 

Exhibition dates: 23 June 2018 – 2019

From Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Yemen – the four corners of the Ka’bah – textiles from the Whitworth collection will be brought together, extending to the widest reaches of influence of the Islamic world.

A section of a Kiswa will form the heart of the exhibition. The Kiswa cloth covers the Ka’bah and is replaced each year during Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). Positioned in the direction of Mecca, it will be seen from the very front of the Whitworth, drawing visitors in.

Burnished indigo, silk embroidered robes, tent hangings and Dervish hats stitched with script will surround the Kiswa. From Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Yemen – the four corners of the Ka’bah –textiles from the Whitworth’s collection will be brought together, extending to the widest reaches of influence of the Islamic world.

For more information visit the website of the Whitworth, University of Manchester, UK

Exhibition: The Boteh Of Kashmir And Paisley – The Signature From The Most Revered Cloths Of Creation

 

 

Exhibition dates: 29 June 2018 – 2 February 2019

This exhibition looks at the development of the boteh motif and Paisley shawl from the late sixteenth to the late nineteenth century. Designs in the Mughal period were based on naturalistic forms and flowering plants, evolving into an increasingly symbolic style. This was followed by the cone shape and then with the elongated forms following a stylised representation of the boteh. Lots of information can be found in the exhibition catalogue here

For more information visit the website of the Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles Berkeley, California

 

Exhibition: Fabric Africa – Stories Told Through Textiles

 

 

Exhibition dates: 30 June 2018 – 19 May 2019, Bristol, UK

Fabric Africa is a stunning snapshot of the diversity of modern and historic textiles from across the continent of Africa.

Highlights from the World Cultures and British and Empire and Commonwealth collections of Bristol Museum & Art Gallery will reflect the variety of patterns, colours, materials and techniques created as well as focusing on the personal and provocative stories they can tell.

The selection of textiles and clothing dates from the late 1800’s to the present day and come from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Sudan, Mali and Swaziland amongst others.

From mud cloth to adinkra, barkcloth dresses to kanga cotton prints, ‘royal’ kente cloth to huge embroidered agbadas, this exhibition will give a taste of the amazing ingenuity of the textile artists of Africa and explore the importance of cloth in social and political lives of those who wear them.

There are also some individual stand-out pieces like the 1980’s European style dress and suit made from barkcloth – the clothes were a gift to some European friends from a Ugandan chief – and a Victorian style heavy cotton dress worn today by Herero women from Namibia.

For more information visit the website of the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

 

Exhibition: Weaving New Worlds

 

Exhibition dates: 16 June – 23 September 2018

“This is not a story of genteel craft work.” – Lesley Millar (curator) on the new exhibition at the William Morris Gallery, London.

This is certainly true of the diptych of Kim Jong Un by Pat Taylor, and Bandages by Mari Meen Halsoy, a Norwegian artist living in Beirut.

The old buildings of Beirut still carry holes left by bullets and shells during 15 years of civil war in Lebanon, and many of its people have matching psychological wounds. Halsoy is attempting to heal both through her work.

The project, installed by Mari Meen Halsøy at the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, north-east London, recreates the wall of a shattered building known as the Yellow House. The building is located on the former “green line” that divided Christian east Beirut and Muslim west Beirut during the 1975-90 war.

At first glance the work combines beautiful pieces of traditional tapestry, some as small as postage stamps, which are dyed in muted shades of grey, blue and ochre. In fact, each has been precisely matched in size, shape and colour to a hole left in the Yellow House wall by bullets or shells, many of which took human lives. Each tapestry is made from a tracing on cotton fabric taken directly from the wall’s surface.

Tapestries have always told stories. In this exhibition 16 women artists from the UK, USA, Norway, Canada, New Zealand and Japan weave the stories of our time: the possibilities, the hopes and lost chances. Using the traditional hand woven tapestry techniques that connect us to the past, they have taken contemporary images and events, personal dreams and feelings. The tapestries range in subject matter, from reflections of rural mythologies, to floods and urban decay. Always at the heart of the work is the human condition, the artists offering us both a utopian and dystopian view – the choice is ours.

For further information on the exhibition visit the website of the William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow, London.

To read more about the Bandages installation click here

Exhibition: Secrets of the Lacquer Buddha

Exhibition Dates: 9 December 2017 – 10 June 2018

Secrets of the Lacquer Buddha unites the only sixth- and seventh-century, life-size Chinese lacquer buddha sculptures known: one from the Walters Art Museum, one from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and one from the Freer Gallery of Art. They have never been exhibited together before.

The exhibition explores how the sculptures were made, giving new insights into these deceptively simple objects. It also highlights how science can contribute to understanding art. The Freer|Sackler Department of Conservation and Scientific Research’s experts used specialised equipment and new methods to analyse the sculptures, exposing microscopic details. Find out what tree species the lacquer came from, what type of burnt bone was mixed in, and other unexpected discoveries.

The amount of detailed background information given on the Freer|Sackler website is amazing. The essay by Donna Strahan and Blythe McCarthy on the construction of the buddha sculptures is particularly fascinating.

They discovered that pieces of wood wrapped in textiles which had been dipped in lacquer were used as a support inside some of the buddhas. The fibres from all four sculptures were identified by polarised light microscopy as bast fibres with crystalline nodes. The fibres’ colours further identified them as hemp when examined under polarised light.

A textile dated to between 1272 and 1284 also features in the essay on Lacquer, Relics, and Self-Mummification by Denise Patry Leidy.

For more information visit the website of the Freer|Sackler museum, Washington DC.

Exhibition: Resists – exploring resist-dyed textiles across cultures

 

Exhibition dates: 25 April – 13 December 2018, Leeds, UK

‘Resist dyeing’ or ‘resist patterning’ are terms used to encompass a wide variety of techniques through which fabric is decorated by allowing dyestuff to only come into contact with selected areas of either the yarn or the fabric’s surface. Variants of such techniques are found universally, but for this exhibition the emphasis will be on textiles from West Africa, the Indian subcontinent, Japan and Indonesia.

The exhibition will identify the principal resist-dyeing techniques, and the characteristics of the resultant products.  Techniques displayed will include batik, ikat, resist block-printing, stencils, tie-dye and other stitched techniques.  It will present examples of ajrakh, English Wax, katagami and shibori.

The exhibition will draw from items within the ULITA collection, particularly showcasing two relatively recent significant collections to come to ULITA, including one from OATG member Hywel Coleman. This is a substantial loan collection of batiks, ikats and weaves. Its greatest strengths are textiles from South Sulawesi, Bali, and West and East Nusa Tenggara.

For more information visit the website of ULITA – an Archive of International Textiles

 

Exhibition: Portable Storage: Tribal Weavings from the Collection of William and Inger Ginsberg

Exhibition dates: 25 September 2017 – 7 May 2018, New York

 

Woven bags carried by nomads in the Middle East were designed to contain all of the necessities of life, from bedding to salt. This exhibition highlights 19 distinctly patterned examples of woven bags from nomadic cultures in Iran, Turkey, and the Caucasus, along with one striking pile-woven saddle cover. Featuring geometric patterns as well as stylised floral and animal motifs, these textiles are both utilitarian and expressive of a highly sophisticated tribal aesthetic.  The exhibition also includes an Islamic painting from the Metropolitan Museum’s collection that illustrates bags and trappings in use in traditional society.

For more information visit the website of the Metropolitan Museum

Exhibition: A Taste for the Exotic – European Silks of the 18th Century

 

 

Exhibition dates: 29 April – 11 November 2018

Glamorous fashion in the eighteenth century entailed first and foremost wearing lavishly patterned silks. While the cuts of both ladies’ gowns and men’s attire scarcely changed, new fabric pattern collections came out regularly. Several trends developed. Common to all is a preference for strange-looking motifs and extravagant compositions redolent of exotic worlds. The textile designers who created them were clearly inspired by much sought-after wares imported to Europe by sea from the Near and Far East.

The new exhibition at the Abegg-Stiftung, near Bern, Switzerland,  presents a selection of these brightly coloured silks decorated with chinoiseries or with “bizarre” motifs, as the fantastical designs defying description are now known. The show also includes silks with exotic fruits and plants that were hardly known in Europe at the time, as well as some with intricate patterns reminiscent of oriental ornamentation. The textiles on view in this special exhibition represent a union of exquisite materials, astonishing creativity and technical accomplishment – a fascinating combination that for several decades held sway over genteel society’s taste in fashion.

For more information visit the website of the Abegg-Stiftung

Exhibition: A World of Looms – Weaving Technology and Textile Arts in China and Beyond

Exhibition dates: 30 May – 15 September 2018, Hangzhou, China

This is the first exhibition in China to present the rich cultural heritage of looms and weaving technologies from around the world. It celebrates the marches of textile innovations in not only China, but also in a broader context of textile traditions over vast geographical areas. The exhibition will be divided into three galleries – China, Eurasia, Americas and Africa – each featuring a representative selection of looms. These range from recently excavated archaeological findings, through to Jacquard looms and multi-shaft looms.

Conference: 31 May 2018

A one-day conference runs concurrently with the exhibition A World of Looms and features many distinguished textile scholars including OATG member Chris Buckley. The presentations are very diverse and cover loom technology from China, Japan, Laos, Indonesia, Iran, Africa, and the Andes. Admission is free, but reservations are recommended.

For more information on both the exhibition and the conference click here