Exhibition: Diligence and Elegance – The Nature of Japanese Textiles

Exhibition dates: 12 July 2017 – 21 January 2018

Diligence and Elegance: The Nature of Japanese Textiles presents over 50 textiles and garments from the Textile Museum of Canada’s collection of nineteenth and twentieth-century artifacts made in Japan for both everyday and occasional use. Luxurious silk and gold fabrics produced in Kyoto’s professional weaving workshops are juxtaposed with domestic indigo-dyed cotton, plant-fibre cloth, and silk kimonos crafted in an astonishing spectrum of time-honoured techniques – weaving, dyeing, hand painting, gold foil application and embroidery – that exemplify venerable social and cultural values. The exhibition focuses on the highly refined skills and materials by which textiles have been constructed and decorated over centuries, and on how diligence and ingenuity have shaped their timeless beauty. The persistence of traditions seen in such rigorously executed textiles has come to embody the heart of Japanese aesthetics. Every material, colour and technique has a story to tell.

Diligence and Elegance features the contemporary work of Hiroko Karuno and Keiko Shintani, two Japanese-Canadians whose consummate craftsmanship and philosophies are profoundly connected to the evolution of Japanese textile traditions of spinning, dyeing and weaving. Their internationally renowned artistic achievements are testimony to the ethics of labour associated with a lifelong investment of time, practice and precision; they position living traditions as opportunities for personal reflection and the acknowledgement of the significance of collective human accomplishments.

For more information, visit the website of the Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto, Canada.

Event: The Art of Nishiki Weaving in Japan – Preservation and Restoration of Yarn Dyed Textiles, with Amane Tatsumura

Event date: Monday 21 August 2017, 6:45pm

Nishiki-ori brocades are magnificently elaborate and multicoloured figured silk textiles, handwoven on takabata looms, which were introduced to Japan from China over 1,200 years ago. Reflecting the high monetary value of the product, the character for nishiki (錦) is made up of two other characters, 金 meaning gold or money and 帛, meaning silk. The word nishiki has historically been used to describe something of great beauty, in phrases such as ‘nishiki no mihata’ banners flown by imperial troops; ‘kokyo ni nishiki o kazaru’ (lit. decorate the hometown with nishiki brocade) used to describe someone returning home in triumph; and ‘kinshu’ to refer to spectacular autumn leaves (kin is an alternative reading of the character nishiki). However, today nishiki weaving is in real danger, with a lack of skilled craft workers to carry on the tradition.

The Japan Society are delighted to welcome Amane Tatsumura to give the society’s August lecture. Tatsumura, who is actively working to preserve and continue the techniques used in yarn-dyed weaving, will speak about the revival of this tradition. The Tatsumura family has studied the various traditional skills involved in the historic production of woven textiles, such as methods of spinning cocoons and the construction of looms and other equipment, and as far as possible use those techniques in their weaving today. Through these efforts to restore the traditional methods, it has been possible to create employment for craftspeople whose work has been in decline, while preserving techniques and ensuring that these skills are passed on and recorded.

Amane Tatsumura was born in 1974, the oldest son of Koho Tatsumura, one of the leading masters of the art of nishiki weaving in Japan. After graduating from Tokyo Zokei University, he concentrated on the weaving of nishiki brocade, learning how to weave on a takabata loom. Amane Tatsumura has followed in his father’s footsteps in continuing this tradition and has worked to restore the yarn-dyed weaving tradition and promote its growth. He is a special lecturer attached to the Project Faculty of Doshisha University.

This event will be held at:

The Swedenborg Society
20–21 Bloomsbury Way (Hall entrance on Barter Street)
London WC1A 2TH

Places are free, but booking is highly recommended. To reserve your place, please call the Japan Society office on 020 3075 1996 or email events@japansociety.org.uk.

For more information, visit the website of the Japan Society, London.

Exhibition: Hidden in the Lining – Krishna in the Garden of Assam, the Tales of Two Textiles

Exhibition dates: 17 April – 3 Sepember 2017

A partnership exhibition created between Chepstow Museum and the British Museum explores the origins, stories and meanings of woven silk temple textiles from seventeenth-century north-east India. A stunning example is from Monmouthshire Museums’ own collections – an elegant eighteenth-century gentleman’s dressing gown, its magnificent lining made from this rare group of Assamese textiles – only about twenty examples survive today.

They are known as Vrindavani Vastra, which means the cloth of Vrindavan, a forested region in north India where the Hindu god Krishna is believed to have lived as a young cowherd early in his eventful life. Dramatic scenes from Krishna’s life are woven into these vibrant strips of cloth. The same scenes feature in dance dramas performed with elaborate masks that are still distinctive to the region. Masks made by monks and textiles have been loaned by the British Museum, and two beautifully illustrated pages from the finest Assamese manuscript in the British Library are also in the exhibition. The scene is set with some stunning film made in Assam featuring the masked dramas in preparation and performance. (A Textile Society grant made the exhibition of the gentleman’s ‘banyan’ possible.)

This exhibition is taking place at Chepstow Museum, Chepstow, Monmouthshire, NP16 5EZ.

Open: Monday to Sunday, 11–4.

For more information, visit the website of Chepstow Museum.

Textile Tidbits: Handmade in Japan – The Kimono

For my latest Textile Tidbit, I recommend a short BBC programme about the production of kimonos in present-day Japan.

This programme visits the remarkable island of Amami Oshima in the southern oceans of Japan, to follow the elaborate handmade production of a traditional Japanese kimono. Over five hundred people are involved in producing the island’s famous mud-dyed silk, which takes many months to produce. The film follows the painstaking process of the silk being bound, hand dyed, woven and finally turned into a kimono by a seamstress. Along the way we not only discover the history of the kimono tradition, but also the many difficulties facing the kimono industry in modern Japan.

To watch this programme online, visit the BBC iPlayer website (unfortunately for international readers, this video is only viewable in the UK).

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: Huicholes – A People Walking Towards the Light

Exhibition dates: 5 April – 4 September 2017

Huicholes – A People Walking Towards the Light showcases the art and lives of the Huicholes, an indigenous group from western Mexico whose history dates back 15,000 years. Featuring dazzling yarn paintings created using traditional techniques, the exhibition includes ceremonial objects, handmade textiles and photographs documenting a unique and threatened way of life.

This exhibition is on loan from Artes de México with the support of the Consulate General of Mexico and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, through the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation.

For more information, visit the website of the Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto, Canada.

Event: Living with the Shahsevan – A talk by Richard Tapper for ORTS

 

Event date: Wednesday 19 April 2017, 6–9 pm

This is an Oriental Rug and Textile Society event.

Richard says: “I lived among Shahsevan nomads in the 1960s, when their weavings were almost unknown, or commonly labelled ‘Kurdish’ or ‘Qarabagh’. I visited them again briefly in 1968, 1973, and then in 1993 and 1995 – by which time of course their weavings were very well-known, and production had been widely commercialised. I shall describe life among the nomads, give some background to their history, and some details on the weaving that I observed, all illustrated with slides from the field.”
R.L. Tapper, MA PhD, is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology with reference to the Middle East.

The talk will be held at St James Conference Room, 197 Piccadilly, London W1J 9LL.

The Conference Room entrance is in the Church Place passageway, which runs between Jermyn Street and Piccadilly.  There is a wrought iron gate signed ‘Church Hall Conference Room’ leading downstairs.  Drinks and snacks will be served.

Piccadilly Circus tube is 5 minutes’ walk, and Green Park Tube is 10 minutes’ walk.  There is free parking in St James Square after 6.30pm.

Please note this is an Oriental Rug and Textile Society event, but non-members are welcome to attend: £7 single lecture, £5 students, or choose £20 for one year’s membership (11 events).

For more information, visit the website of the Oriental Rug and Textile Society.