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The Russian History Museum recently held a free online lecture, which I found out about too late to include in my previous blog. Please note that when this happens I do provide links on our Facebook page, so I would encourage all members to check that out too.
Pictures in Thread: Late Imperial Russia and Needlework was presented by Dr Andrea Rusnock. Luckily the event was recorded so you can now watch it at your leisure.
“Needlework played a key role in nineteenth century Russian culture and art across all social classes, from the peasantry to the urban elite. Women plied their needles to create and embellish household articles, personal items, and interior décor. In addition to the actual objects themselves there was a plethora of publications relating to needlework produced at the end of the Imperial period.” – Museum website
Also on the subject of embroidery – I posted about this on Facebook last week and it was so popular I thought I ought to share it here too. This 68 page book is available as a free download in English or Arabic from the GWU & Textile Museum website. Simply click on this link, then on the PDF.
This Saturday, 20 August 2022, sees the opening of an exciting new exhibition at the Textile Museum in Washington DC. Korean Fashion: From Royal Court to Runway examines 125 years of Korean costume and fashion and lasts until 22 December.
“After centuries of relative isolation, Korea opened its borders to international trade and diplomacy in 1876, but for years the country remained little known outside of Asia. Korea’s participation in the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 changed that. Visitors to the Korean pavilion were dazzled by the colorful displays of traditional clothing (hanbok), such as embroidered silk jackets and robes made for the Joseon royal court.” – museum website
This exhibition will include some of the actual textiles that were shown in Chicago in 1893. It also includes the work of modern designers, giving a fascinating overview of Korean culture.
Next Wednesday, 24 August 2022, the Nebraska based International Quilt Museum will host a free Webinar, which should be of interest to our members. The museum curator, Marin Hanson, will be in discussion with Christine Martens “about her extensive travels in Central Asia and about the collecting of patchwork and quilted objects she has done on the museum’s behalf. Quilted robes, patchwork hangings, and talismanic children’s garments will all be featured in the discussion.” – museum website.
I’ve known Chris for over a decade, through our shared love of the textiles of Central Asia. She is also an expert on feltmaking and leads tours to visit craftspeople so I’m sure this will be an excellent talk.
It takes place at 14:00 Eastern, which is 19:00 BST and you can register for it here.
While on the subject of Central Asia, I recently read this article by Askar Alimzhanov in Voices of Central Asia.The Lives and Work of Soviet Kazakh Women in Photos contains many interesting images of Kazakh women. However I think the author in his opening paragraph fails to appreciate that having your photograph taken was treated as a serious business in many communities, and it was not uncommon to see people with solemn expressions.
The World Textile Day team is in for a busy few weeks, with their first event on Saturday 27 August 2022 at Frodsham in Cheshire. Entrance to these events is free, but there is a small charge (payable on the door) for attending the talks, which this time look at the West African bead trade, Japanese sashiko and textiles across borders.
Although here in the UK the museums are still closed, in other parts of the world new exhibitions are opening. Weaving the Thread of Fate into the Carpet – Decorative and Applied Art of Azerbaijan opened last week at the Russian Museum of Ethnography in St Petersburg. This exhibition is a collaboration between the REM and the Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum. It will run until 18 May 2021. On show are more than forty carpets, as well as embroidery, printed textiles, leatherwork and jewellery.
The majority of the carpets date to the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, but the exhibition also features a Surakhani carpet from Baku which dates to the late eighteenth century. A short article about the exhibition has been published in Jozan magazine and can be accessed here. The website of the Azerbaijan National Carpet Museum is well worth visiting. It gives an overview of their collection, and you can also take a virtual tour of the museum.
Turning now to talks taking place in March. The first of these is on Wednesday 10 March when Dr Anita Quye will be interviewed by Dr Mary Dusenbury, guest editor of the recent edition of The Textile Museum Journal, about three dyers who made significant contributions to colour and dyeing technology. “Together with collaborators Iris Brémaud, Dominique Cardon and Jenny Balfour Paul, Dr. Quye conducted comparative research on notebooks compiled by three different dyers between 1722 and 1747 in London and Languedoc, France. In this interview, she will reflect on the similarity of their palettes, the virtuosity of the dyers as colorists, their shared technical language, and the scientific accuracy of the colors in their portfolios.” – Textile Museum website. This event will take place at 12:00 EST, which is 17:00 GMT. The event is free, but you do need to register for it.
On Saturday 13 March Dr Richard Isaacson will give an online presentation to the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California (TMA/SC) entitled Woven Gems along the Silk Road: Small Pile Weavings of the Turkic Nomads of Central Asia. This will take place at 10:00 PST, which is 18:00 GMT. The red carpets and rugs of the Türkmen have long been appreciated in the West. However it wasn’t until much later that textile lovers began to become familiar with the weavings of other related ethnic Turkic groups such as the Uzbeks, Kyrgyz, Kazakhs and Qaraqalpaqs. Dr. Isaacson’s talk will begin with a review of the principal small weavings of the various Türkmen tribes. In the second part of the programme, he will show examples from the other related Turkic tribal groups in Central Asia, and compare them to their Türkmen counterparts. Richard has studied these weavings for many years and in 2007 he curated an exhibition on the Tent Bands of Central Asia for the Textile Museum in Washington. This event is free, but again registration is essential so please do click here if you wish to attend.
The following day, Sunday 14 March, the Textile Arts Council will host a viewing of the award-winning documentary Threads, which shows how the late Surayia Rahman transformed “kantha, the traditional Bengali technique of repurposing old sarees into patchwork embroidered fabrics, into an internationally recognized art form. Today in Bangladesh kantha continues to support women’s economic opportunities and sustains artisan enterprise and the evolution of indigenous design.” – Textile Arts Council. The screening will be followed by a conversation between the documentary-maker, Cathy Stevulak, and Dr. Sanchita Saxena, during which they will discuss the future of this art form, women artisans in Bangladesh and how indigenous arts can be preserved, while at the same time creating a sustainable future for their makers. Non-members are welcome to attend this screening for a small fee. It will take place at 13:00 PST, which is 20:00 GMT and you can register for it here.
If you would like to learn more about the story behind this documentary I suggest you visit the ClothRoads website where they have an interesting blog on how it was made, beginning with the maker hearing about “a woman with grey hair who does remarkable embroidery work”.
The following weekend is a rather busy one, with no less than three talks (that I am aware of) taking place. Firstly the OATG is delighted to be welcoming back Dr. Geneviève Duggan to give another talk – although sadly this one will be online only. Dr. Duggan is an anthropologist who has researched the culture, history and weaving traditions of the remote Indonesian island of Savu for three decades. I have to declare a special interest in this as I too first visited Savu thirty years ago – coincidentally on the same boat as Geneviève, but at a different time. The intriguing title of the talk is People without history in eastern Indonesia, powerful or powerless? Dr. Duggan will discuss several important life cycle ceremonies, which are the responsibility of women “whose intangible power resides in handwoven cloths produced for the occasion”.
The talk will take place on Saturday 20 March at 11:00 am GMT. Unfortunately this timing doesn’t work well for our members on the West coast of the USA, but as Geneviève is based in Singapore we were restricted in our choice. The recording of the programme will later be archived in the members-only section of our website. This event is of course free for OATG members. Non-members are welcome for a small fee, but do need to register by clicking here – don’t forget places are limited! Having visited the weavers on Savu many times, including several times with Geneviève, I can thoroughly recommend this talk.
The next talk on the same day – Saturday 20 March – will be hosted by the Textile Museum as part of its Rug and Textile Appreciation series. The subject will be Embroidered Shoes from the Bata Shoe Museum, 1700-1950. Edward Maeder, who has been a museum curator and director since 1977, ” will explore examples from the world of European high fashion, including remarkable shoes from the 18th and 19th centuries. Maeder will also discuss shoes made with ethnographically specific decorative textile techniques, such as Persian ‘rasht-work’. This type of inlayed wool-work is extensively finished with silk chain-stitch embroidery. Other complex embroidery methods incorporate glass beads, moose-hair and fine gold and silver embroidery on leather, silk and even wool.” – Textile Museum. This free talk will begin at 11:00 EDT, which is 15:00 GMT. Click here to register. Do also take a look at the website of the Bata Shoe Museum as it has lots of interesting posts, particularly on the conservation of different shoes.
The final talk is again on the same day and hosted by the Textile Arts Council. The speaker is Carol Cassidy and the subject is Weaving, Tradition, Art and Community. Carol founded Lao Textilesin Vientiane in 1990. It was the first American business in the country and was based on the traditional skills of the weavers. Some of the challenges Carol and her husband faced are brought to life in this article in the Wall Street Journal. An experienced weaver herself, Carol made some design alterations to the looms. I’ve been fortunate to visit her twice, in 1997 and again in 2000 and the quality of the textiles is superb. I enjoyed reading this article by someone else who also visited in the 1990s and then much more recently in 2020. She pointed out that “Artisans can only replicate what they have been taught. To bridge the gap between the simplicity of an artisan’s lifestyle and our western sophisticated retail market, Carol and the like are the necessary link to success.” – Valerie Gregori McKenzie. The talk takes place at 10:00 PST which is 17:00 GMT. There is a small fee for non-members and you can register here.
I’ve been working for some time on a list of museums with textile collections and came across a small private museum in Germany dedicated to the molas of Panama. The Forum Mola-Kunst is in the city of Bremen and has a small permanent exhibition of these panels which in the past were only used in women’s blouses, but now are increasingly used on bags etc. Today I discovered that an exhibition of entitled Fashioning Identity: Mola Textiles of Panamá is currently on at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The museum website has an excellent gallery guide, which gives an overview of the history and culture of the people who produce these vibrant textiles.
Exhibition dates: 24 March – 29 July 2018, Washington DC
With their brilliant designs, ikats are among the most distinct fabrics produced in Central Asia. The name, derived from the Malaysian word for “to tie,” refers to the distinct technique of making these textiles: bundles of threads are painstakingly patterned by repeated binding and dyeing before being woven. In present-day Uzbekistan and the Fergana Valley, the fabric is known as abri (cloud) and the technique as abrbandi (tying clouds), referring to the fluid yet bold motifs in bright colors.
Not surprisingly, ikats caught the attention of contemporary designers, most notably Oscar de la Renta (died 2014). In 2005 de la Renta included ikat designs in his collections, an innovation that was soon followed by other designers in the United States and elsewhere. Since then ikat motifs have become ubiquitous—from couture gowns to jeans and T-shirts, and from carpets and sofa coverings to stationery and wallpapers.
This exhibition brings together about thirty of the finest historical Central Asian ikat hangings and coats from the Freer|Sackler collections, donated by Guido Goldman, as well as seven of Oscar de la Renta’s iconic creations. The aim is to explore the original use and function of these dazzling fabrics and the enduring appeal of their extraordinary designs.
This exhibition runs almost concurrently with Binding the Clouds: The Art of Central Asian Ikat at the Textile Museum, also in Washington DC
Exhibition dates: 10 March – 9 July 2018, Washington DC
Across Central Asia, oasis towns were once awash with the rainbow colours of ikat fabrics. Through exceptional artworks recently donated to the Textile Museum, this exhibition focuses on the sophisticated art of dyeing known in this region as abrband (binding the clouds).
A lifelong devotee of the arts, in 1975 Dr. Guido Goldman first encountered Central Asian ikats, an art form that employs a sophisticated resist-dye technique to create vibrant abstract patterns in dazzling colours. He subsequently became a passionate collector and went on to build the world’s premier ikat textile art collection. This pursuit led to preservation, education, and a widespread public interest that was influential in the modern revival of Central Asian ikat technique and design. In the late 1990s he organised a stunning exhibition drawn from his collection which traveled to major museums in six cities. Concurrently, he produced what is recognised as perhaps the best art book ever published of a single textile collection, IKAT: Silks of Central Asia, the Guido Goldman Collection.
In 2015, Dr. Goldman donated his favourite 73 ikat textile panels from his collection to The Textile Museum in honour of Bruce P. Baganz, growing the museum’s holdings to one of the largest and most prestigious collections of Central Asian ikats in the world. Highlights from Dr. Goldman’s collection will be on view at the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum in this exhibition, along with a simultaneous exhibition of other Goldman-donated ikat textiles to the Smithsonian at that institution’s Freer-Sackler Galleries.
This is an Oriental Rug and Textile Society event.
Ali Istalifi gave the successful lecture on Central Asian Ikat at the SOAS Brunei Gallery World Ikat Textile Symposium in 2016. Born in Afghanistan to a family of dealers for three generations on Kabul’s famous Chicken Street, Ali has a large collection, and unique access to the subject as a fluent speaker of Dari. He will bring textiles to show us.
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).
Sewing Paradise, on show at the University of Cape Town’s Irma Stern Museum, is a celebration of the contribution women make to the world through their creative talents. The show will feature Manina Baumann’s magnificent collection of hand-embroidered Uzbek suzanis as well as art works that have been created in response to these Central Asian textiles. Curated by Michael Chandler, the all-female exhibition aims to explore the notion of the inner-garden; a timeless metaphor for a state of ideal beauty and harmony. Exhibiting local and international artists, the show will also feature lesser-known works by Irma Stern, who herself was an ardent textile enthusiast and collector.
For more information, visit the website of the Irma Stern Museum, Cape Town, South Africa.