A selection of textile events happening now and coming soon

There are several new exhibitions opening soon. The first of these is Gathering at the Textile Museum of Canada in Ontario. This exhibition features community stories and “explores themes related to migration and diaspora, the search for comfort in the domestic and familial, reclamation of ancestral traditions through contemporary artistic responses, and the relationship between textiles and the environment. The Museum is pleased to showcase new acquisitions in this initial installation, including a 19th century Ainu attush robe from Hokkaido, Japan, and eight beaded works by Vancouver-based, Anishnabekwe artist Bev Koski.”

An opening celebration will take place on 2 April from 1400 to 1700 and you can book for it here.

Left – Jacket, Zaanstreek, Netherlands, 1775-1780, cotton, linen, metal; plain woven, block printed, painted, hand-sewn. Gift of Dr. Howard Gorman, T92.0318. Right – Francisco Carillo, Untitled, 1940-1990, Huichol, Nayarit, Mexico, wood, beeswax, wool. Gift of Penny Bateman, TS03.23.124. ©Textile Museum of Canada.


Next Friday, 31 March, sees the opening of a new exhibition at the Museum of the Palestinian People in Washington DC. The exhibition is entitled Tatreez Inheritance: Preserving Palestinian Cultural Heritage in 75 Years of Exile. This exhibition, which marks the curatorial debut of Wafa Ghnaim, “examines the presence of Palestinian embroidery in the United States through a diasporic lens, asserting and affirming the power of material culture and art history in preserving a nation’s identity. Over the past 75 years, the dispossession, displacement and dispersion of the Palestinian people across the globe has circulated precious textiles and dresses throughout Europe and North America.”


The exhibition currently showing at the St Louis Art Museum is Fabricating Empire: Folk Textiles and the Making of Early 20th century Austrian Design, which runs until 28 May. It “examines the relationship between the development of Central European folk costume and Austrian modern design, especially the textile department of the Wiener Werkstätte, or Vienna Workshops……. The exhibition considers new scholarship that suggests the imperial government was at the center of promoting and appropriating folk art across the empire as it attempted to create an all-embracing identity for its diverse subjects and fragmented territories.” – Museum website

Czech; Girl’s Ensemble (Kroj Severokyjovsky), c.1945; embroidered cotton and miscellaneous fabric with beads, sequins, and lace trim, Saint Louis Art Museum, Collection of Marvin E. Moehle 2022.189a-h


The Hajji Baba Club are once again inviting applications for their annual Research Fellowship, which this year is worth $7500. Candidates should be involved in primary research in the field of carpet studies. This is an exciting opportunity and the deadline for submissions is 28 April 2023. Click here for full details of how to apply and what the criteria are.

Niched PrayerRug,Western China, 19th century,Wool pile, 681 x 117 cm (268 x 46 in.), Private Collection


Next Saturday, 1 April 2023, is a very busy day for textile events. In the UK the first World Textile Day event of the year takes place at East Horsley in Surrey and as usual features some excellent dealers and speakers. The OATG’s very own Gavin Strachan (editor of Asian Textiles) will be giving a talk on Textiles of the Balkans, and showing examples from his own collection. Some of you will be aware of Gavin’s passion for the textiles of this area from our Show and Tell sessions. Dealers at this event include the inimitable John Gillow, Martin Conlan of Slow Loris and Diane and Jim Gaffney of Textile Traders.

For full details of this event please check out the WTD website – be sure to get there early for the choice of the best textiles!

Women near Prizren. Autochrome Auguste Léon, May 1913. Musée Albert-Kahn.  The background kilim is probably Pirot, Serbia 19th century, from the collection of Gavin Strachan.


Next to some online events – two of which take place on Saturday 1 April. The first of these is a talk by Deniz Coşkun as part of the Rug and Textile Appreciation mornings at the Textile Museum in DC. His subject will be The Legacy of Anatolian Wool.

“Sheep have been raised in Anatolia since 9000 BCE, and the nomadic people caring for them became masters of wool. Until the 1970s, pastoral nomadism was the preferred lifestyle of a significant number of the Anatolian population, and wool remains one of the primary products of the area……. In this virtual talk, Deniz Coşkun will examine properties and qualities of wool through different techniques such as shearing, bowing, combing, spinning and weaving. Coşkun will focus on pile carpets from throughout Anatolia, woven by nomadic groups who mastered the properties of wool in a clever and aesthetic way.” – Museum website.

Click here for more details, and to register for this talk which begins at 11am EDT (8am PDT, 1600 BST).

© Deniz Coşkun


The next online event that day is a virtual visit to the weavers of Cusco, organised by Andean Textile Arts and Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco (CTTC). They are “teaming up to bring the weavers and their work to you through a special online presentation by Nilda Callañaupa Alvarez, founder and director of the CTTC. Nilda will introduce us to each of the communities through their distinct textile techniques and designs. She’ll also talk about recent revitalization projects and show us some amazing pieces produced through community collaboration.”

Click here to register and to find out more. Please note that the first sixty people who register will also receive an invitation to a special online shopping event featuring Cusco textiles, immediately after the talk. 

© Andean Textile Arts


The University of Pennsylvania is hosting this talk on Tuesday 4 April, which intrigued me. It is entitled Cultural Heritage and War: What Can Be Done? and the speaker is Dr Brian I Daniels, Director of the Penn Cultural Heritage Center.

“Intentional destruction of cultural heritage is designed to erase people from history and has become an all too familiar feature of contemporary violence. Recent cases appear frequently in the news: the 2001 demolition of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan; the 2012 destruction of Sufi shrines in Timbuktu, Mali; the obliteration of historic sites across Syria and Iraq; and cultural targeting by Russia in Ukraine. It often seems like nothing can be done. But there are ways that cultural workers and the international community can step in to help. Join us as we explore how.” – University website.

This event takes place at noon ET, which is 1700 BST, and you can register for it here.

One of the badly damaged Buddha statues at Bamiyan


The final talk I want to highlight in today’s blog is hosted by the World Shibori Network Foundation and features Jorie Johnson as the speaker. It is part of their Conversations with Cloth series looking at Treasured Felts and takes place on Thursday 6 April 2023. In this particular episode Jorie will discuss Red Felts and Shibori-dyed Felt rugs in Japan: Tea Ceremony and Festive Occasions.

“Primarily a Japanese import, red “Himosen” can be dated by standing screen (byobu) and hanging-scroll (kakijiku) images of cherry blossom viewing and outdoor Kabuki and dance performances, as found in collections in Japan and abroad. Could these be the origin of the term “red carpet treatment”? Brightly dyed shibori felts, referred to as mokosen also punctuate the autumn and winter seasons. Jorie will discuss the interesting 1804 Nagasaki felt workshop, once on the premises of the Mizu Shrine, documenting Chinese artisan felt rug making and dyeing techniques described in a lovely hand-written diary re-published by Kansai University.” – WSNF website

This online talk takes place at 1500 PST , 1800 EDT and 2300 BST. Participants will also receive a code to access a complimentary recording of the event, which will be available to them for three days. Click here for full details and registration.


Persian/Indian carpets, Chintz, Anatolian rugs, Textile Fair and Kutchi tie-dye

First a reminder that this Thursday, 26 August 2021, the OATG will host a talk by Dr Dorothy Armstrong, the new May Beattie Visiting Fellow in Carpet Studies at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. The talk is entitled Mrs Beattie and Mr Getty: A Carpet Controversy.

In 1969, May Beattie, a British carpet scholar with no academic affiliation, working from her home in Sheffield, was invited by John Paul Getty, one of the world’s richest men, to catalogue his growing collection of carpets. In the following months, the two strong personalities went head-to-head over their provenance. This quarrel had a direct effect on the collecting practices of what became the world’s richest arts institution, The Getty Foundation, and has left open questions about a set of Persian and Indo-Persian carpets. It’s a revealing episode of the interaction of scholarly challenge and market practices around a set of beautiful and luxurious carpets. Dr Armstrong will talk about some of the difficulties faced in answering the questions posed in the slide below, and the particular line that May Beattie took regarding John Paul Getty’s carpet.

Slide from her presentation © Dr Dorothy Armstrong

This talk begins at 1830 BST and is free for OATG members, and just £3 for non-members. Click here to register for the few remaining place.

On Thursday 2 September 2021 the Fashion and Textile Museum will have another online event related to their current Chintz: Cotton in Bloom exhibition. Their Collections Officer, Gill Cochrane, will “share the secrets hidden within these garments and explore how chintz was used – and re-used – in garment construction in 18th and early 19th centuries. This is a unique opportunity to learn what happens ‘behind the seams’ of a costume exhibition and discover some of the most beautiful fabrics and well-constructed garments of the period.” – FTM.

The talk starts at 18:00 BST and costs just £5. Please click here for more details and to register.

On Saturday 4 September 2021 at 16:00 BST there will be a live online talk by Michael Franses, on carpets from the Orient Stars Collection. This talk is hosted by the Textile Museum, in association with the New England Rug Society and the New York-based Hajji Baba Club. You are strongly advised to watch this very professionally produced one hour video, introducing some of these pieces set out as a virtual exhibition, before attending the online talk. There will be a Q andA session after the talk. For further details and registration please click here.

Also taking place on 4 September 2021 is World Textile Day Wales, which I highlighted in my previous blog. Here is the list of traders:-

Magie and Bob of The African Fabric Shop with fabrics, baskets and beads from all over Africa. Diane and Jim of Textile Traders with batik, ikat, indigo and hemp fabrics, silver hilltribe jewellery and clothes. Susan and Glyn from Susan Briscoe Designs with a huge selection of sashiko, boro and kimono fabrics from Japan. Bronwen of Fabazaar with textiles and clothes from India and Nepal. Tanya of The Running Stitches with kantha work blankets, throws, scarves and jackets from Northern India. Finally, internationally famous but local to Llani – hand knitter Sasha Kagan will be there with her knitting designs and finished pieces.

On 11 September 2021 the World Textile Day team move up to the Bridge of Allan in Scotland for their next event. This will run from 10:00 until 16:00 – but be sure to get there early to get the best selection!

The Zay Initiative aims to “promote an understanding of regional culture, and preserve, collect, document, and conserve Arab historic dress and adornment”. One of the ways they are doing this is through a series of talks called Dialogue on the Art of Arab Fashion. The next in this series takes place on Tuesday 7 September 2021 at 17:00 BST. The Founder of the Zay Initiative, Dr Reem El Mutwali will be in conversation with Shila Desai of EYHO Tours, looking at the tie-dyed head coverings worn by women in Kutch, India. “In the traditional societies of Kutch, tie-dyed head coverings play an important role in every aspect of a woman’s life. They provide protection from the elements, create identity, signify status, express joy or sorrow, and denote inter-religious relations. Over many generations, Kutchi Muslim and Hindu communities have shared a common culture in this harsh desert land and regularly interact with each other. By looking at the ubiquitous odhani, or head covering, this conversation will shed new light on both the intra- and inter-social relationships in these distinct communities. ” – Zay Initiative.

You can register for this event here. Registration will also give you access to a recorded version of this event, so you can watch it at your leisure.

Events: Upcoming textile events

Several new talks and exhibitions coming soon….

Portrait of John Frederick Lewis. The cloth he is wearing features in the exhibition along with this portrait.

A new exhibition Inspired by the east: how the Islamic world influenced western art opened yesterday at the British Museum. It has been organised in conjunction with  the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, with the whole exhibition moving there in June 2020.

“The show takes a deeper look at the art movement of ‘Orientalism’ – specifically the way in which North Africa and the Middle East were represented as lands of beauty and intrigue, especially in European and North American art. Often blurring the lines between fantasy and reality, Orientalist art reached its heyday in the mid-1800s, as Europeans and North Americans were looking overseas to fundamentally learn more about other cultures, but its popularity had faded by the 1940s with the decline of the British Empire.” British Museum website.

Julia Tugwell, co-curator Middle East, has written an excellent blog on the subject here.

Location: Room 35, British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG. 10 October 2019 – 26 January 2020.


Dr Fiona Kerlogue will give a lecture to the Oriental Rug and Textile Society (ORTS) in London on 16 October on the subject of Malay Gold Thread Embroidery from Jambi on Sumatra. Focussing on a collection at the Horniman Museum in London Dr Kerlogue will “explore the historical evidence for the influence of trade connections and the colonial presence on the materials and style of gold thread embroidery in Malay Sumatra, and explain the contexts in which the embroidered pieces were used.” ORTS website.

Location: St James Piccadilly Conference Room, 197 Piccadilly, London W1J 9LL 18:00


Andrea Aranow will be lecturing on Japanese Textiles in Philadelphia on 20 October. She will be looking at how patterned kimono cloth is produced from a variety of fibres including cotton silk and bast fibres. With over 200 examples from her collection available to view this should be a very enlightening session. Full details can be found here.

Location: Rikumo, 1216 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19107 14:00-15:30

On Saturday 26 October Dr Elena Phipps will give a presentation to the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California (TMA/SC) entitled Sacred Surfaces: Carpets, Coverings and Mesas in the Colonial Andes. 

“Textiles formed the surfaces of Colonial life in the Andes, and especially those associated with ritual and faith relating to the sacred realms of Christian as well as indigenous religious contexts. Carpets—woven of knotted pile or flatwoven tapestry– were not in themselves a form used in the region prior to the Spanish arrival. But these were introduced very early on in the 16th century by the Spanish who brought with them examples produced and influenced by Hispano-mooresque and Middle Eastern traditions. Andean weavers adapted to the form and techniques of their production, creating remarkable examples that manifest the complex interchange of the period.” TMA/SC Newsletter

Location: Luther Hall, Lower Level St. Bede’s Episcopal Church, 3590 Grand View Blvd. Los Angeles. 26 October 09:30 refreshments, 10:00 programme. Open to all with no reservations required.

Back in the UK Stefano Ionescu will deliver the annual May Beattie lecture at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford on 30 October. The title of the lecture is Anatolian Rugs in Transylvanian Churches: In the Footsteps of May Hamilton Beattie, and it is co-sponsored by Hali.

Location: Headley Lecture Theatre, Ashmolean Museum, Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2PH 17;00-18:00 followed by a reception. Please note – this talk is free but booking by 23 October is essential.

An exciting new exhibition has opened recently at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow. Entitled East Jazz it presents “more than 30 unique Central Asian robes and fabrics from the collection of Alexander Klyachin and more than two dozen canvases of post-war abstract painting, collected by Swiss collector Jean Claude Gandyur. Having expanded and supplemented the exposition with works from the collections of the Pushkin Museum to them. A.S. Pushkin and the Paris Pompidou Center – Museum of Modern Art – Center for Industrial Design, exhibition curators will talk about the interaction of eastern and western cultures.”

Location: The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Ulitsa Volkhonka, 12, Moscow, Russia, 119019. 01 October – 15 November 2019

Looking ahead, next year the V&A will have a major exhibition on Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk tickets for which have now gone on sale. “This exhibition will present the kimono as a dynamic and constantly evolving icon of fashion, revealing the sartorial, aesthetic and social significance of the garment from the 1660s to the present day, both in Japan and the rest of the world.” (V&A website). Full details can be found here.

Location: Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL. Opens 29 February 2020.





Exhibition: The Carpet and the Connoisseur – The James F. Ballard Collection of Oriental Rugs

SLAM - The Carpet and the Connoisseur

Exhibition dates: 6 March – 8 May 2016

During the early twentieth century, St Louis businessman James F. Ballard became one of the country’s top collectors of oriental carpets. An unlikely collector, he was celebrated for his approach to collecting Anatolian carpets from provincial centers in Turkey at a time when most other rug connoisseurs were acquiring classical Persian and Indian carpets. In addition to his passion for collecting, Ballard was also a patient teacher, inveterate traveler, and, above all, the first oriental carpet enthusiast to acknowledge the importance of Turkish influence on the history of the pile carpet.

Ballard ultimately divided his collection of carpets between the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1922 and the Saint Louis Art Museum in 1929. Another group of carpets were added to the St Louis collection through a later donation by his daughter, Nellie Ballard White, in 1972. As a result of these two gifts, the museum has amassed a collection of oriental rugs recognised as one of the most significant collections in the world.

‘The Carpet and the Connoisseur’ highlights 51 carpets from the Ballard collection, including three Cairene rugs, a Spanish rug, and examples of ‘Lotto’ and small-pattern ‘Holbein’ carpets, all important examples of works from the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Ballard also acquired two nineteenth-century Persian pleasure tents that were used for outdoor gatherings. These are also featured in the exhibition.

‘The Carpet and the Connoisseur’ is guest-curated by Walter B. Denny, University of Massachusetts distinguished professor in Islamic Arts in collaboration with Philip Hu, associate curator of Asian art, and textile conservator Zoe Perkins.

For more information, visit the website of the Saint Louis Art Museum, USA.