Exhibition: Oceania

Exhibition dates: 29 September – 10 December 2018

In 1768 Captain James Cook left Plymouth on HMS Endeavour on the first of three voyages. Across the Pacific he encountered a world that was both highly sophisticated and, thanks to ocean-going canoes and navigational aids, interconnected – despite the significant distances between islands. Oceania draws on rich and well-documented historic collections to explore this history and, in so doing, presents new contexts in which these objects can be better understood and appreciated.

With a focus on art made in the Oceanic region by Pacific Islanders, the exhibition is organised around three main themes: ‘Voyaging’ looks at life on the water as revealed through the extraordinary stories of indigenous navigation and the arts of the canoe and canoe accoutrements such as carved prows and paddles. ‘Place-making’ explores the settlement of communities; and ‘Encounter’ focuses on trade and exchange in Pacific cultures. Highlights of the exhibition include a 14th-century wooden Kaitaia carving (from the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Auckland), which was excavated in 1920. This is one of the oldest known objects to have been found in New Zealand to date.

Oceania will bring together around 200 exceptional works from public and private collections worldwide, and will span over 500 years. Highlights include shell, greenstone and ceramic ornaments, huge canoes and stunning god images . The exhibition draws from rich historic ethnographic collections dating from the 18th century to the present, and includes seminal works produced by contemporary artists exploring history, identity and climate change.

For more information visit the website of the Royal Academy of Arts, London.

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Exhibition: Ceremonies and Celebrations – Textile Treasures from the USC Pacific Asia Museum Collection

 

Exhibition: 14 September 2018 – 6 January 2019

This exhibition is drawn from the museum’s extraordinary collection of over 2,700 costumes and textiles from China, Korea, Japan, India, the Himalayas and Southeast Asia.

Ceremonies and Celebrations explores interesting ideas that connect these vast regions together. The exhibition is divided into four thematic sections: the first focuses on the connection between gender and textile production and the way that textiles are used to identify gender roles in society. The second idea that is explored in the exhibition is the role of textiles as a signifier of one’s status. The third theme illustrates the unique relationship between textiles and religions across Asia. The final section looks at textiles worn or used in marking ceremonies and life transitions, including birth, weddings, and death.

Some of the highlights of the exhibition will be the imperial dragon robes worn by China’s emperors and imperial family during the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). These robes feature nine powerful dragons, the symbol of the Emperor, embroidered or woven across the front and back of the silk robes. The yellow robes were the rarest of all, since the colour yellow, symbolising the sun, was worn exclusively by the Emperor. One such yellow robe, worn by the Guangxu Emperor (1875-1908) as a boy, will be on display in the galleries.

Also included in the exhibition are magnificent whal-ot (wedding robes) from Korea, a recent gift to the museum, and Japanese kimono and kesa (Buddhist priest robes), some dating to the Edo period (1603-1868). From Southeast Asia, Indonesian ikat textiles, and pineapple-fibre, or Piña cloth from the Philippines will be on display. From South Asia and the Himalayan region, visitors can see colourful tunics and elegant silk robes from India, as well as highly meaningful and richly decorated cloth from the kingdom of Bhutan in the Himalayas.

For more information visit the website of the Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena, California.

Event: Turkish Legacy in Anatolian Kilims

Event date: 5 September 2018 at 18:30

 

 

This lecture by Sumru Belger Krody, senior curator at the Textile Museum, Washington DC shows how nomadic Anatolian women, descended from Turkmen nomads, wove colourful, visually stunning kilims that reveal their culture’s aesthetic preferences for decorating their surroundings. Today, these kilims are the only surviving tangible evidence of their makers’ nomadic lifestyle – a poignant legacy given that women generally did not have an external voice in this patriarchal society. The exhibition A Nomad’s Art: Kilims of Anatolia will be open before the talk.

This lecture is free, but reservations are required. For more details of this event held at the Textile Museum, Washington DC, click here

 

Exhibition: Empresses of China’s Forbidden City

 

 

Exhibition dates: 18 August 2018 – 10 February 2019

This is the first major international exhibition to explore the role of empresses in China’s grand imperial era — the Qing dynasty, from 1644 to 1912. Nearly 200 works, including imperial portraits, jewellery, garments, Buddhist sculptures and decorative art objects from the Palace Museum, Beijing (known as the Forbidden City), tell the little-known stories of how these women influenced art, religion, court politics and international diplomacy.

The Qing imperial court was strictly patriarchal and hierarchical. The empress’ primary duty was to bear a son to continue the imperial line, but she was more than the borrowed womb of the dynasty. She also headed the imperial harem and could influence the emperor. She was regarded as the “mother of the state” and a role model for all women.

Moving boldly against the tradition that “women shall not rule,” some empresses took more direct control of state affairs in challenging times. Presiding over the state ritual of promoting silk production and the textile industry, empresses honoured women’s vital economic health of the state. A number of empresses played a prominent role in art patronage and religious activities. They did not bind their feet and could learn to ride and hunt.

For more details visit the website of the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem Massachusetts

Exhibition: Himalayan Fashion – High Altitude High Fashion

 

Exhibition dates: 23 March – 26 October 2018

The current exhibition at Lotherton Hall, an Edwardian country house and estate near Leeds, Yorkshire, showcases textiles from Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal. It is a very eclectic mix, ranging from mountaineering gear to a colourful apron on loan from Joss Graham. One of the highlights is a rare woman’s headdress called a pagor, which is made from rolls of cotton, covered in red wool cloth, studded with silver mounted turquoise jewels and smaller turquoise and coral stones. The story of the restoration of this headdress by conservator Karen Horton can be read here

Other highlights include a snow leopard rug, Gurkha clothing and men’s and women’s outfits from Bhutan. Further details about the exhibition can be found on the Museum’s website here

In addition, a special Himalayan Fashion Study Day will be held at Lotherton on 10 September 2018. This will include talks by the conservator as well as the well known author Gina Corrigan. Participant numbers are limited and places can be booked through this link

 

 

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.

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