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).

Exhibition: Phulkari – The Embroidered Textiles of Punjab from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection

Exhibition dates: 12 March – 9 July 2017

Discover the beauty and cultural significance of phulkari, ornately embroidered textiles from Punjab, a region straddling Pakistan and India. In addition to stunning examples from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection, this exhibition features traditional phulkaris from the museum’s collection and high-fashion ensembles by one of India’s leading designers, Manish Malhotra.

Phulkari, meaning ‘flower work’, is a labour-intensive textile made of vibrant silk embroidery on a plain-woven cotton cloth. Deeply rooted in Punjabi life before the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan (which split the Punjab region), this tradition has become a powerful symbol of Punjabi cultural identity.

Usually worn by women as large shawls on special occasions, phulkaris were also made as blankets or as furniture covers or hangings. Women of many religious groups – Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Sikhs (who consider the Punjab their holy land) – stitched phulkaris, with young girls learning needlework from older female relatives and friends. They often created the embroideries for their dowry, which they brought to their new homes when they married.

Some phulkaris depict animals and village scenes, while others display complex geometric patterns in bold colors conveying good fortune and social status. Whether figurative or geometric, all are rich in symbolism: after the 1947 partition, phulkari textiles became an important symbol for the new nation of Pakistan.

Over the past half century, phulkari techniques and patterns have experienced a revival, especially as a commercial art. As an emblem of pre-partition village life, phulkaris have been celebrated in popular music and videos. More recently, this folk tradition has entered the realm of high fashion through designers such as Manish Malhotra, who recently created a phulkari-based couture collection.

For more information, visit the website of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Event: Colourful Banjara Textiles from the British Museum’s Reserve Collection at Blythe House, Olympia

Event date: Wednesday 19 April 2017, 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

The Banjara are a semi-nomadic people who, prior to the construction of roads and railways, provided long-distance bullock caravans of goods across India. They are known for their vibrant clothing and domestic textiles in shades of rich yellow ochre and red madder decorated by mirrors, embroidery, applique and shells. This event will be presented by the British Museum’s T. Richard Blurton, Head of the South and Southeast Asia Section, and textile gallery owner (and OATG member), Joss Graham.

See Asian Textiles magazine #64 (June 2016) for a review of a new book on the Banjara: Textiles of the Banjara.

Event location: Blythe House, Olympia, London (more details on access provided when booking).

Please note that numbers for this event are strictly limited and advanced registration is essential. Places will be allocated on a first-come first-served basis.

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

News: SADACC Trust Project – India and Pakistan Remembered

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The SADACC Trust (based in Norwich, UK) is seeking participants to be interviewed for the India and Pakistan Remembered 2017 project.

To coincide with the 70th anniversary of India and Pakistan’s independence, the SADACC Trust is embarking on an exciting oral history project. We will be interviewing people who have lived in India or Pakistan, or whose relatives lived there in the past.

We want to hear about your memories or family stories of life in India and Pakistan (whether recent or centuries ago). In particular, we are interested in learning about objects, heirlooms or keepsakes from the subcontinent that are still attached to, or seem to contain these memories. In discovering how objects help to relate people to events in the past, we hope to better understand what memories the objects in The South Asia Collection might evoke in visitors to the museum.

The India and Pakistan Remembered 2017 project will create an archive of recorded interviews about people’s memories (whether their own or stories they have inherited) of life in India and Pakistan. The interviews will also contribute to an exhibition – ‘India and Pakistan Remembered’ – and accompanying publications.

If you are interested or would like more information, please contact our Collection Curator Ben Cartwright at info@sadacc.co.uk or phone 01603 663890.

Participants are encouraged to bring objects (or photographs of those objects) which evoke stories of life in either India or Pakistan to interview sessions. We hope to explore how these objects spark memories of certain people, places and events in the past.

By agreeing to be involved, you will be a unique voice contributing to a better understanding of the history of India and Pakistan through lived experiences.

Please circulate this message to anyone you feel would be interested in being interviewed.

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

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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.

Event: London Antique Rug and Textile Art fair (LARTA) 2017

Event dates 24–29 January 2017

The London Antique Rug & Textile Art fair (LARTA) was launched in 2011 and is the only specialist fair dedicated to the appreciation of antique rug and textile art. Our event brings together quality decorative pieces and interesting collectors’ items presented by some of the UK and Europe’s most dynamic and knowledgeable dealers.

Our aim is to promote this vibrant art form to a wide audience. The scope of our interest is broad, and includes weavings from the Far East, Central Asia, Persia, India, Turkey, the Caucasus as well as from Europe and Africa, and from all periods up to the early twentieth century in Europe. Clients include collectors, interior decorators and designers, private buyers and international dealers.

The quality of the exhibitors at LARTA guarantees an event of high artistic significance and cultural merit. Many of our dealers exhibit regularly at important international antiques fairs and specialist symposiums. Several have written expert articles and books, travelled extensively to learn about the material culture and traditions of the weaving regions, and celebrated this extensive subject through exhibitions in their galleries.

When you visit LARTA, you will be able to choose from thousands of pieces at all price levels in a range of materials, techniques, colours and styles. There will be eye-catching showstoppers as well as affordable furnishing pieces and collectible rarities. In 2017, LARTA has broadened its offering to include exceptional twentieth-century carpets by modernist and art deco designers, and a very select choice of contemporary designer rugs. In addition, there will be a select presentation of Islamic art and objects. Your visit to LARTA will be a seductive feast of colour, form and texture, a truly memorable experience!

For more information, visit the LARTA website.

Exhibition: Lockwood Kipling – Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London

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Exhibition dates: 14 January – 2 April 2017

Explore the life, work and lasting impact of John Lockwood Kipling (1837–1911), an artist, teacher, curator and influential figure in the Arts and Crafts movement. Lockwood Kipling was a social campaigner for the preservation of the Indian crafts, a craftsman whose terracotta panels can still be seen on the exterior of the V&A and an illustrator of books by his son, the renowned writer Rudyard Kipling.  This exhibition uncovers the history of the V&A’s collections through the life of Lockwood Kipling who played a significant role in shaping the foundation collection.  Highlights include paintings of the Indian section of the Great Exhibition, designs and illustrations for books, and furniture designed for royal residences Bagshot Park and Osborne.

For more information, visit the website of the V&A Museum, London.

Exhibition: Embroidered Tales and Woven Dreams

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Exhibition dates: 19 January – 25 March 2017

The exhibition Embroidered Tales and Woven Dreams is a colour-coded social history of the vast and geographically varied landscape known as the Silk Road (or originally the ‘Seidenstrasse’, a name given to this road by the German explorer Richthofen), which stretches from Central Asia to Western Europe. Its regional history will be explored through the embroidered tales and woven textiles of the communities who lived north and south of this ancient trade corridor across Asia.

The textiles on display have recorded a wonderful vernacular art, as embroidered tales, told by women storytellers, who were guardians of their customs and traditions for their individual tribes, castes and communities.

This exhibition, with a series of related lectures by internationally renowned lecturers, will examine the immensely rich, culturally fascinating identity of the Central Asian, Middle Eastern and South Asian landscapes, through the heritage of their embroidered textiles and costumes. It is a rich seam of historical material, meticulously embroidered and woven.

While the Silk Road, as a concept, refers to an area that underwent a thousand years of turbulent history, the physical links were comprised of smaller land routes, often through difficult terrain, and passable only by specialised trade caravans.

The northern ‘–stans’ of the Uzbeks, Kyrghiz, Tajiks, Turcoman and Khazaks exchanged goods with distant neighbours in Afghanistan and northern India, and, depending upon varying political arrangements, the even more distant powers of South Asia, Persia, Byzantium, Russia and China.

The exhibition will briefly examine the political upheavals that destroyed the lives of these communities and their nomadic, semi-nomadic and settled lifestyles.

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

Exhibition: Layers of Influence – Unfolding Cloth across Cultures

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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.

Event: Joss Graham’s Christmas Celebration 2016

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Event date: shop and gallery open 7–24 December; private view 6 December 2016, 5–9 pm

OATG member Joss Graham will be holding a Christmas celebration at his gallery and shop in London from next week, with a private view next Tuesday evening, 6 December.

Among other art and textile objects available for sale, there will be velvet ikat cushions from Istanbul, recycled sari silk bead necklaces from Delhi, hand-knitted accessories from the Himalayas, as well as textiles from Mexico.

For more information, visit Joss Graham’s website.