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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Event: The Iban of Borneo – Talk by Mike Heppell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Event: Chris Buckley Talks about Patterns in Silk – The Marvellous Innovations of Tai Weavers

Event date: Tuesday 9 May 2017, 6–8 pm

This talk will discuss the ingenious patterning systems that Tai weavers use, and will show how their influence has been felt from imperial Chinese silk workshops in the east to the development of computing in the west. It will be illustrated with outstanding Tai textiles from China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.

Chris Buckley was educated at Balliol and Wolfson Colleges in Oxford. He has spent the last two decades living in Asia, and now lives in Oxfordshire. He is the co-author of The Roots of Asian Weaving (Oxbow Books, 2015) with Eric Boudot.

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

Admission is free for members, £3 for non-members.

For more information, and to register for your place, visit the Eventbrite page.

Exhibition: Textiles from Sumba, Indonesia

thomas-murray-sumba-exhibition

Exhibition dates: this is an online exhibition, available to view indefinitely

A special exhibition of textiles from Sumba, curated by HALI contributing editor Thomas Murray and drawing from his extensive collection, is available to view online. It begins:

“The island of Sumba may be found on a map between Bali and New Guinea but it exists in its own world, far apart from those antipodal lands. Divided east and west by language and environmental conditions, the west tends to be more wet and green and the east, dryer.

Sumbanese religion, Marapu, recognizes that a dualistic symmetry exists in the universe, that of male and female, hot and cold, sun and moon, cloth and metal. Here there are good and bad spirits hovering nearby, needing ritual offerings on a regular basis. The ancestors must most especially be cared for.

Sumba is thus home to one of the strongest animistic tribal societies found in Indonesia, perhaps most famous for its notorious custom of cutting off the heads of enemies and placing them on the branches of a designated tree, the pohon andung, at the entrance of the village. Such trees represented the Tree of Life as well as serving to remind viewers of the power of the raja.

Sumba has a rich megalithic heritage, featuring giant stone tomb memorials. Sumbanese houses, particularly the customary houses found in royal villages, known as rumah adat, are understood to be cosmic diagrams, with the underworld of the animals below, the mid-level for human habitation and the high roof being the realm of the ancestors. This is also the place where the pusaka heirloom treasures are stored, to be closer to the departed souls; precious gold jewelry and fabulously rare and beautiful textiles were kept just under the peak of the roof on both sides of the island. But the art of weaving and dyeing achieved greatest heights in the east, with ikat textiles adding bright colors to the dusty brown background of this, the dry side of the island.”

To view the exhibition, visit Thomas Murray’s website.

Event: Conference: Cloth and Costume in Ethnographic Museums – New Directions in Research, Care and Interpretation 

museum-ethnographers-group-conference-2017

Event dates: 6–7 April 2017

The Museum Ethnographers Group Annual Conference 2017 will address cloth and costume. Cloth is a unique technology: light and flexible but presenting large surfaces and capable of taking innumerable colours and structures, it covers and divides things, reveals and connects them. Clothing and costuming the body, to protect and conceal it, to make it beautiful or terrifying, to transform or display its many identities – bring persons and statuses into the performed social world. Since remote prehistory, cloth and costume have both created demands and opportunities for humans to devise many of our most ingenious, delicate and technically complicated artefacts.

From Inuit gut parka to ancient Nazca textiles, traditional West African grand boubou costume to Masai beadwork, Scottish plaid to Italian tapestries, Persian rugs to Indian sari to Balinese dance masks, Bismarck Archipelago masquerade puppets to Samoan barkcloth lavalava; the cloth and costume in our World Cultures collections are immensely rich, diverse and culturally significant. In recent centuries, cloth and costume have also become important material sites for the contestation of identities and moralities, economic globalisation and colonial acculturation. From the worldwide trade in European mill-woven chemically dyed and printed textiles, to the battles of Christian missionaries with imagined states of immoral native undress, to the recent conflict between the French government and wearers of the hijab and burkini, the globalisation of Western dress convention has powerfully impacted the world’s other material cultures.

How, then, do we weave together these many strands in the ethnographic museum? What is the current state of research into world cultures’ cloth and costume collections, and what new approaches are we developing to understand them better? How are historical textiles and costume being curated in the world’s museums, and reimagined in the world’s contemporary art scenes? Are we engaging with contemporary world fashion or trapped in perpetuating stereotypical imaginings of an ‘authentically dressed’ ethnographic past that may never have existed? How can we manage these challenging objects better? What are the particular conservation problems of ethnographic textiles and costume, and how can we better care for them in the future? How are we exhibiting cloth and clothing in 2017? Are we capitalising on costume’s universal appeal in our display and education programmes?

Titles and 200-word abstracts for papers addressing these and other questions are warmly welcomed. Two standard formats are offered to presenters: a full conference paper to last twenty minutes, and a shorter ten-minute presentation on work in progress. Please email your proposed title, abstract and format choice (or any queries) to andrew.mills@glasgow.ac.uk by Monday 6 February.

Booking for the 2017 conference is now open. Tickets can be purchased through the Eventbrite site.

For more information, visit the website of the Museum Ethnographers Group.

Exhibition: Hmong Songs of Memory, Hmong Threads of Life

hmong-threads-of-life

Exhibition dates: 16 December 2016 – 30 April 2017

Hmong Songs of Memory, Hmong Threads of Life, an absorbing multi-media exhibition of photographs, film, artefacts and textiles amassed by researcher and musician Victoria Vorreiter, offers visitors the opportunity to explore the age-old music, ceremonies and beliefs of the mountain-dwelling Hmong of Southeast Asia. The event, which marks the launch of Vorreiter’s book and ethnographic film, Hmong Songs of Memory: Traditional Secular and Sacred Hmong Music, will especially highlight collections of Hmong musical instruments and Hmong clothing representing four subgroups.

The exhibition is being held at Tamarind Village, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

For more information, visit the Tribal Music Asia website.

Exhibition: Layers of Influence – Unfolding Cloth across Cultures

vancouver-museum-of-anthropology-layers-of-influence

Exhibition dates: 17 November 2016 – 9 April 2017

From birth to death, humans are wrapped in cloth worn for survival, but more importantly, wear clothing as an external expression of their spiritual belief system, social status and political identity. This stunning exhibition will explore clothing’s inherent evidence of human ingenuity, creativity and skill, drawing from the Vancouver Museum of Anthropology’s textile collection — the largest collection in western Canada — to display a global range of materials, production techniques and adornments across different cultures and time frames.

Curated by Dr Jennifer Kramer (Vancouver Museum of Anthropology Curator, Pacific Northwest), Layers of Influence will entrance visitors with large swaths of intricate textiles often worn to enhance the wearer’s prestige, power and spiritual connection, including Japanese kimonos, Indian saris, Indonesian sarongs, West African adinkra, adire and kente cloth, South Pacific barkcloth, Chinese Qing dynasty robes, Indigenous Northwest coast blankets, Maori feather cloaks and more.

A sumptuous feast for the eyes, the exhibition is an aesthetic and affective examination of humanity’s multifaceted and complex history with cloth and its ability to amplify the social, political and spiritual influence of the wearer as a functional expression of self-identity.

For more information, visit the website of the Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver, Canada.

Exhibition: Striking Patterns – Global Traces in Local Ikat Fashion Design

museum-der-kulturen-basel-striking-patterns

Exhibition dates: 21 October 2016 – 26 March 2017

In eastern Indonesia and Timor-Leste people wear hand-woven, decorative ikat cloths as a mark of prestige and to flaunt their taste for fashion at festive events. Ikat is a form of art in which the yarn is tied and dyed – the Indonesian term ‘ikat’ means ‘to tie’ – before weaving. Woven into the patterns are myths, rituals, recent historical events, imported motifs as well as new fashion trends. Ever since they began producing ikat, weavers have incorporated foreign influences. Relying on old pieces from the museum’s exceptional collections as well as new cloths, including contemporary interpretations by Ito Joyoatmojo and Susi Kramer, the exhibition Striking Patterns: Global Traces in Local Ikat Fashion illuminates the development of the tradition, illustrating how these highly skilled weavers have already long been part of the process of globalization.

Become enthralled by beautiful shoulder cloths, hip wraps and sarongs! This exhibition unfolds a sea of flowers. In particular, the Indian eight-pointed flower features in almost endless variations, accompanied by a rain of European roses. Animals populate the cloths, just as tourists do. We also find Catholic motifs in the shape of crucifixes and angels, while synthetic yarns and bright
colours lend some of the exhibits a radiant touch of modern fashion.

This exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, published in German and English.

For more information, visit the website of the Museum der Kulturen, Basel, Switzerland.

Event: Talismanic Textiles from the Islamic World – A Talk by Dr Francesca Leoni

Event date: Friday 9 December 2016, 2.30 pm 

Dr Francesca Leoni is the Yousef Jameel Curator of Islamic Art and a Research Associate at the Khalili Research Centre, University of Oxford. She is the curator of the exhibition Power and Protection, Islamic Art and the Supernatural currently on display at the Ashmolean (showing until 15 January 2017). In her talk for the OATG, Dr Leoni will focus on the talismanic textiles included in the exhibition.

Location: Ashmolean Museum Education Centre, Oxford.

Admission is free for members, £3 for non-members. Registration is essential.

For more information, and to book your place at this event, please RSVP on the Eventbrite page, or contact the OATG events organisers (oatg.events@gmail.com).

The exhibition Power and Protection can be visited afterwards until 5 pm. Find more information on the exhibition here.