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.

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: Indigo – From Texts to Textiles

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Event date: Wednesday 15 March 2017, 9.30 am 11.30 am

Indigo, ‘King of Dyes’, has been in continuous use for over six millennia, traded worldwide for use as blue dye, paint pigment and medicine. Its unique chemistry makes it suited to all types of textiles, whether prestige silks or popular blue jeans, as well as paint for frescoes, manuscripts, etc.

In this richly illustrated talk, to be held at the Bodleian Library, Jenny Balfour Paul, author of three books on indigo, international lecturer and traveller, will cover all aspects of this beautiful and fascinating blue, as well as indigo’s increasing popularity as a sustainable dye.

Booking: This event is free but places are limited so please complete the online booking form to reserve tickets in advance.

For more information, visit the website of the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Event: Pasold Research Fund Conference – Colour in Cloth

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Event date: 10–11 April 2017

CALL FOR PAPERS

From initial design to production and dissemination, colour is central to the manufacture and use of cloth and clothing.  This international conference will explore the various and multifarious relationships between colour and textiles, from dyeing and distribution, to chromatics and conservation.  Through a combination of papers and workshops, it will demonstrate new and continuing research through historical, theoretical and practical investigation, drawing on interdisciplinary expertise that includes history, archaeology, conservation, sustainable futures, design and material culture.

The conference will be held over two days and in two locations: the University of Glasgow and the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh College of Art.  These two cities represent the diverse heritage of textile manufacture and design in Scotland, from the industrial scale Turkey red dyed and printed cottons, to the artisanal tapestry workshop of the Dovecot and design education. The conference will celebrate the differences of these two cities, as well as drawing on what unites them and the wider world through the history and current practice in colour and textiles.  Day One will be held in Glasgow and will consist of papers that deal with the history and theory of colour and textile design, production and use, in addition to contemporary practice within the field.  On Day Two we will hold complementary and exploratory hands-on workshops and site visits in Edinburgh, exploring the history, theory and study of textiles through practical and innovative means.

The organisers particularly welcome proposals that combine a paper and complementary workshop idea, but also encourage individual papers (20 mins) or workshop proposals (expected to last 11.5 hours) that examine textiles and colour in theory and practice.  Working under the wider umbrella themes of the production, consumption and conservation of colour in cloth, suggested themes for paper and workshop proposals include, but are not limited to:

  • Scotland and the world
  • Science and technology
  • Colour and perception
  • Colour, fashion, trend
  • Colourless or the absence of colour
  • Learning with colour and textiles

Limited student bursaries will be available.
Titles and abstracts (200 words) for papers and/or workshops, should be sent to Sally Tuckett Sally.Tuckett@glasgow.ac.uk and Lindy Richardson l.richardson@ed.ac.uk  by Monday 16th January 2017. 

For more information, visit the website of the Pasold Research Fund.

Exhibition: Bingata! Only in Okinawa

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Exhibition dates: 5 November 2016 – 30 January 2017

Okinawa, Japan’s southernmost prefecture, was an independent kingdom until 1879, with its own language, culture, and distinctive textile traditions. This special showing at the Textile Museum, Washington DC, of textile treasures from Okinawan museum collections features brightly coloured bingata – traditional resist-dyed fabrics – and contemporary works by Okinawan artists and fashion designers.

For more information, visit the website of the Textile Museum, Washington DC, USA.

Exhibition: Striking Patterns – Global Traces in Local Ikat Fashion Design

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Exhibition dates: 21 October 2016 – 26 March 2017

In eastern Indonesia and Timor-Leste people wear hand-woven, decorative ikat cloths as a mark of prestige and to flaunt their taste for fashion at festive events. Ikat is a form of art in which the yarn is tied and dyed – the Indonesian term ‘ikat’ means ‘to tie’ – before weaving. Woven into the patterns are myths, rituals, recent historical events, imported motifs as well as new fashion trends. Ever since they began producing ikat, weavers have incorporated foreign influences. Relying on old pieces from the museum’s exceptional collections as well as new cloths, including contemporary interpretations by Ito Joyoatmojo and Susi Kramer, the exhibition Striking Patterns: Global Traces in Local Ikat Fashion illuminates the development of the tradition, illustrating how these highly skilled weavers have already long been part of the process of globalization.

Become enthralled by beautiful shoulder cloths, hip wraps and sarongs! This exhibition unfolds a sea of flowers. In particular, the Indian eight-pointed flower features in almost endless variations, accompanied by a rain of European roses. Animals populate the cloths, just as tourists do. We also find Catholic motifs in the shape of crucifixes and angels, while synthetic yarns and bright
colours lend some of the exhibits a radiant touch of modern fashion.

This exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, published in German and English.

For more information, visit the website of the Museum der Kulturen, Basel, Switzerland.

Event: Deeper than Indigo – Jenny Balfour Paul speaks at the Pitt Rivers Museum

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Event date: Wednesday 16 November, 6 pm

Jenny Balfour Paul (of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, Exeter University) will give an illustrated account of her adventures in the heartlands of India’s Raj, Polynesia, the South China Seas and Arabia, in search of Thomas Machell, indigo planter and explorer, whose remarkable journals she found in the British Library.

This event promises to be quite popular.  The maximum capacity of the Pitt Rivers Museum Lecture Room is 70 and, rather than have to turn people away on the evening, the Friends of the Pitt Rivers have decided to set up a booking system.  Tickets are free of charge, but you do need to reserve your place.

Location: Pitt Rivers Museum Lecture Room, Oxford

To book your free place at this event, visit the Eventbrite booking page.

Event: Bingata! Only in Okinawa: Textiles and Traditions of the Ryukyu Kingdom

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Event date: Saturday 5 November 2016, 9am – 5pm

The Textile Museum, Washington DC, USA – 2016 Fall Symposium

Known as the Ryukyu Kingdom until 1879, Okinawa has a rich tradition of textile production and design, including the unique resist-dye method known as bingata. Inspired by the exhibition Bingata! Only in Okinawa, the 2016 fall symposium will feature five distinguished scholars from Okinawa – folklorists, curators and historians of textiles and theatre – who will provide a broader context for Okinawa’s celebrated textile art.

Online registration for the 2016 fall symposium is now open.
Rates: $40/museum members; $50/public.

For more information, visit the website of the Textile Museum, Washington DC, USA.

Exhibition: World Ikat Textiles – Ties That Bind

Brunei Gallery - World Ikat Textiles

Exhibition dates: 15 April – 25 June 2016

This exhibition celebrates the rich legacy of ikat, an age-old textile technique stretching across the continents of the world. This unique collection brings together an array of priceless pieces of ikat textiles with live demonstrations by master weavers, a symposium, film screenings and a book display. This program reflects the World Crafts Council’s global commitment to nurture, promote and revive precious indigenous craft skills. It also serves to connect the skilled practitioners from across these diverse regions to contemporary society and promote greater awareness of the handwoven tradition and its innovation.

There is also a series of events scheduled in relation to this exhibition:
· Thursday 14 April: Opening of exhibition with focal lobby display on ‘mud-mee’ ikat textiles of Thailand
· Friday 13 May: Focal lobby display changes to Indian ikat textiles.
· Saturday 14 & Sunday 15 May: Symposium ‘Ikat Textiles Ties That Bind (Past, Present and Future)’
· Thursday 9 June: Focal lobby display changes to Central Asian ikat textiles with supporting event.

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