Event: Sumba – Island of the Ancestors

Event date: Thursday 19 July, 6-7:45pm

OATG members David and Sue Richardson first visited the Indonesian island of Sumba in 1991. They have since returned many times, drawn back by its fascinating culture and fabulous textiles.

This talk will briefly cover the history and ethnography of Sumba, before focussing on its weaving culture. Textiles are fundamental to life on this island, being used extensively in bridewealth exchanges, for settling disputes, and for funerals. Two main techniques are used – supplementary warp and warp ikat. It can take many months just to do the binding for one of the ikat cloths, with some requiring up to 20,000 separate knots.

David and Sue will also be showing some wonderful examples from their extensive collection – including textiles made by members of the Sumbanese Royal families.

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

Time: 6pm for a 6:15 start

OATG events are free for members and £3 payable on the door for non-members. Advance booking is recommended.

Should you require disabled access, please do get in touch beforehand to make sure adequate provisions can be made.

For more information, and to book a place at this event, visit the Eventbrite page.

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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

 

Event: A Revolution in the Bedroom – How Indian dyed cottons transformed Europe’s interiors in the 17th and 18th centuries

 

Event date: Friday 29 June 2018 at 18:00, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.

Brightly coloured, washable Indian cotton fabrics revolutionised the décor of bedrooms and living-rooms of western households as soon as they were introduced in the 17th century.

Join Indian textiles specialist Rosemary Crill for a fascinating look at how the hybrid designs of these chintz fabrics, with their exotic flowers and trees, fed into the 18th-century craze for Chinoiserie, and how they became a staple element of western design vocabulary.

For more information visit the website of the Royal Ontario Museum

 

 

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

Article: Weavings from the Land in the Cloud

 

This article by Nurdiyansah Dalidjo and Cassandra Grant looks at the Toraja weavings of  South Sulawesi.

Weaving is an important spiritual activity and is respected by the Toraja people, but only women weave the cloth. They inherit the skills and knowledge taught by their grandmother or mother. From childhood, girls are involved in the fabric-making process, starting with chopping cotton or rolling yarn. Over time they learn the complex stages of weaving.

Initially, Toraja woven fabrics use hand-spun cotton threads and natural dyes grown around gardens and in fields and forests. One of those dyes is the tarum plant that produces an indigo blue. Other dyes use noni roots and turmeric. In the distant past, Toraja also sourced a black coloring using katakante leaves and mud sourced from fields where buffalo were kept. According to a Toraja resident, using mud that was mixed with urine or buffalo dung would help lock in the dye. Woven fabrics that have been coloured through this mud-dyeing process are known as pote, and are worn as headbands or hoods by relatives of the dead as a symbol of mourning.

Woven fabrics also form an important part of the funeral ceremonies. One of the sacred ikat weavings features a bright orange and blue dominant color, and is decorated with rhombuses, arrows, and diamond shapes in geometric patterns. Known alternately as Rongkong and Galumpang, the pattern represents Toraja ancestors but may be known by different names elsewhere.

To read the full article, which also has some beautiful photographs, click here

Article: Portable Storage Bags

Recently I posted about the exhibition on portable storage bags at the Metropolitan Museum in New York – ending 7 June 2018. Even if you can’t make it to the exhibition I highly recommend looking at their website, which has a wealth of information about these bags – how they are used, who made them, the techniques they used etc.

The different types of bags are examined, with examples of their use given. Specific bags were used to store salt, flour, bedding, spindles etc.

The section on the tribes covers the Qashqai, the Shahsevan and the Bakhtiari. It includes a fascinating short documentary about the Bakhtiari, filmed in 1925.

Slit-tapestry rugs from Turkey, called kilims, were woven in a wide range of sizes and formats for a wide variety of uses. Rugs associated with the market town of Reyhanlı, on the Turkish-Syrian border, were produced by nomad groups who moved to upland Taurus mountain pastures in the summer, returning to the Mediterranean littoral during winter months.

Besides the characteristic technique of mainly slit-tapestry (kilim), the splendid double saddlebags from Reyhanlı (called heybe in Turkish) sometimes include metallic-wrapped cotton threads, which the nomadic weavers could not produce themselves but had to acquire, probably in exchange for sheep or goat milk, cheese, or other products from their animals.

One such saddlebag is examined in greater detail by Associate Research Scientist Federico Caro, with particular attention being paid to the use of copper metallic thread that resembled gold.

In another section of the website conservators Julia Carlson and Yael Rosenfield examine the sumak technique, with lots of excellent detailed photographs.

It’s rare to see so much excellent background information for an exhibition – hope you enjoy reading it.

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.

Event: Persian Carpets and Renaissance Revivals – A Cross-Cultural Itinerary

 

 

Event date: 3 May 2018, 18:00-19:00, London.

This talk by Dr Eva-Maria Troelenberg of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florence will trace the history and fate of a prominent Safavid (16th century) medallion carpet. The piece had been traded to Europe probably at some point in Early Modern history. It was purchased in Venice in the late 19th century by Renaissance connoisseur and museum man Wilhelm Bode, was displayed as one of the core pieces of the “Persian-Islamic Department” of the Berlin Museums after 1904, destroyed during the Second World War, and resurrected by means of restoration and publication in the 1950s. The itinerary of this textile on the one hand reflects the central—at times ideological—position of Persian culture within an emerging canon of Islamic arts during the first half of the 20th century. On the other hand, its material history of discovery, display, destruction and reconstruction challenges the teleological notion that is inherent to many cross-cultural museum collections.

Admission to this talk at The Courtauld Institute of Art in the Strand is free but registration is required through the link below.

For more information visit the website of The Courtauld Institute of Art

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