A plethora of new talks and exhibitions!

It was a pleasure to see so many members take part in our recent AGM, and even more so that several of our overseas members were able to present textiles from their collections at the Show and Tell.

February certainly looks like being a busy month with lots of online talks and exhibitions. I’m listing them here in date order, as sadly several of them take place on the same date.

On 20 February there are no less than three online talks that I am aware of! The first of these is hosted by the Textile Museum, with Lawrence Kearney looking at American Coverlets for Rug Lovers. “In this virtual talk, carpet and textile dealer Lawrence Kearney will explore the varied art form of American wool coverlets from 1780 to 1830.

Woollen coverlets from the early 19th century are one of the great American art forms. They are often beautiful, plentiful and affordable. They were made, primarily, by itinerant weavers who travelled throughout New England and the Midwest from c. 1810 through the 1840s. After introducing the four main types of coverlets — over-shot, double-weave, winter-and-summer, and Jacquard-loomed (“figured and fancy”) — Kearney will explore the pleasures these 200-year-old woollen textiles can hold for rug lovers.” Textile Museum website.

Space for this session is limited so you are encouraged to register early.

A woman in Houaphan Province, Laos, models the hand-reeled silk, naturally dyed shaman cloth she wove on her handbuilt loom. ©Above The Fray.

Next is a Zoom Panel presented by WARP (Weave A Real Peace). This will take place at 1300 EST, which is 1800 in the UK. The panel will consist of Gunjan Jain, who “made a conscious switch from working for fast fashion industries to slow, sustainable fashion and set up Vriksh, a design studio that collaborates with handloom weavers in Odisha and other states in India.  Uddipana Goswami …. a feminist peace researcher turned peace entrepreneur who promotes eco-conscious traditional/indigenous crafts from India’s conflict-ravaged Northeast periphery, and Maren Beck, [who with] her husband Joshua founded Above the Fray: Traditional Hill Tribe Art in 2007 in order to document, support, and introduce to the world the incredible traditional textiles arts and cultures of Laos and Vietnam.” Maren and Joshua are the co-authors of Silk Weavers of Hill Tribe Laos. This talk is free, but registration is essential!

If rugs are more your thing then the talk hosted by the New England Rug Society might be for you. This also takes place at 1300 EST on 20 February, when Alberto Levi will speak on Rugs of the Golden Triangle. “While in Tibet in the early ’90s, hunting, in his words, “for the next Seljuk animal carpet,” Alberto Levi “stumbled across an entirely different kind of animal.” In time, what seemed to be a casual encounter yielded a distinct group of carpets, which Alberto labels “Tibetan Golden Triangle.” Far from being Tibetan, this elusive family of rugs, most of them fragmentary, appears to originate from a triangular region defined at its extremes by eastern Anatolia, the southern Caucasus, and Northwest Persia. How and why these rugs ended up in Tibet is yet another part of the mystery that Alberto will investigate in his talk. ” NERS Newsletter. NERS members will automatically receive a link. Non-members wishing to attend should email committee member Jean Hoffman to receive theirs.

Temple hanging, artist unknown, Gujarat 20th century

On Monday 22 February the Fowler Museum will host one of its regular Lunch and Learn sessions. Joanna Barrkman, the Fowler’s Senior Curator of Southeast Asia and Pacific Arts, will explore embroidered Jain temple and shrine hangings that offer insights into the religious beliefs and imagery of the Jain faith. This short talk will take place at 1430 PST which is 2230 GMT. Click here to register for this free event.

In addition to all of the above there is also the series of four talks hosted by the Textile Museum Journal that I covered in my previous blog. These are:- Elena Phipps on Brilliance, Colour and the Manipulation of Light in Andean textile Traditions (17th) , Raquel Santos and colleagues on Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Asian Textiles in Portuguese Collections (24th) and Walter Denny on Colour, Expectations and Authenticity in Oriental Carpets (26th). The talk by Dominique Cardon on Dyers’ Notebooks in Eighteenth Century England and France, which was scheduled for 10 February has been cancelled. However the good news is that one of Dr Cardon’s co-researchers, Dr Anita Quye, will now take her place for this talk on 10 March instead.

Buddhist robe (kesa), flowers in baskets. Japan, Edo period (1615-1868). Silk and gold brocade. ©Alan Kennedy

Don’t forget that the following day, Saturday 27 February, the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California will host an online talk by Alan Kennedy entitled Kesa: ‘Patchwork’ Buddhist Monks’ Robes in Japan, From Austere to Luxurious. This will take place at 10am Pacific time which is 1800 in the UK. “Kesa is the Japanese word for the traditional patchwork garment worn by Buddhist monks and nuns. These garments are among the earliest documented articles of clothing in Japan, based on inventory records dating to the 8th century. The history of kesa in Japan is of significance for both sacred and secular reasons. They served as a vehicle for both the transmission of Buddhism and of luxury textiles to Japan from the Asian mainland. Kesa that have been preserved in Japan are made of a wide variety of materials, ranging from monochrome bast fibre to sumptuous imported gold brocades. ….. This talk will survey kesa from its earliest history to modern times.” TMA/SC. Registration for this talk is available here.

Ensemble from Southern Moravia in Slovakia (KSUM 1995.17.574 a-e)

A new exhibition opened this week at Kent State University Museum, which will run until 19 December 2021. Entitled Stitched: Regional Dress Across Europe this exhibition showcases common features shared by regional costume across Europe. “In its original context in villages, regional dress carefully marked social and cultural differences. Religious affiliation, gender, age, and marital status were all instantly recognisable at a glance by members of the community. A person’s outfit signalled which village or region they came from. Focusing on these signs of difference obscures the common vocabulary that rural residents across Europe used to shape their clothing. By organising the pieces on display according to shared features, this exhibition highlights the commonalities across the continent rather than their differences. The pieces on view span Western and Eastern Europe including examples from Norway, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Romania and Albania. The development of elaborate regional dress was not a result of the isolation of their wearers but a signal of their integration into broader European society.” KSU website.

Quilt depicting scenes of domestic life and biblical scenes. Created by Minnie Melissa Burdick in 1876. ©Shelburne Museum

The Shelburne Museum in Vermont was the first to exhibit quilts as works of art. Most of the pieces in their collection were produced in New England in the nineteenth century. They recently launched a new online exhibition entitled Pattern and Purpose: American Quilts, which features high-quality images of a selection of their quilts, along with detailed background information on each one. There is also an excellent video in which Katie Wood Kirchhoff previews the exhibition and explains more about the history of the collection and about certain specific quilts. The catalogue of quilt patterns produced by the Ladies Art Company certainly made me smile.

Women’s festive headdress called a shamshur. End of the 19th century Sami, Arkhangel. ©REM

The Russian Museum of Ethnography has a new mini-exhibition which will run until 28 February. The subject is Glass Decor in the Traditional Costume of the Peoples of the Baltic and Barents Regions. The exhibition showcases textiles which are adorned using different types of glass decorations and were made in the second half of the eighteenth to the early nineteenth century. The quality of the images is very good, and there is a toggle at the top of the page to change the language to English.

Early 20th century. Leather, satin, silk, wool and metal thread embroidery, weaving tassels. Artisan Saadagul Mademinova, Southern Kyrgyzstan

The ethnographic collection of the Gapar Aitiev Kyrgyz National Museum of Fine Arts is highlighted in this article in Voices on Central Asia. In it Mira Djangaraсheva, the ex-director of the museum, Aigul Mambetkazieva, the chief conservator, and Chinara Daniyarova, a conservator, tell the story of the museum and describe some of its exhibits. The collection currently consists of over 18,000 items, including embroidered wall panels, felts, a fantastic pair of embroidered leather riding trousers and much, much more. Do take a look!

OATG member Sarah Fee, Senior Curator, Global Fashion and Textiles at the Royal Ontario Museum has informed us of the decision to extend the deadline for the IARTS Textiles of India grant until 15 May 2021. This biennial grant of $15,000 CAD “can be used anywhere in the world by anyone in the world toward a project that enhances knowledge about Indian textiles, dress, or costume”. The scope really is very broad, and can include research, fieldwork and creative work. Please click here for full details of how to apply.

Removing the bindings from the warp threads on Savu. ©David Richardson

Don’t forget the February issue of Asian Textiles will be out later this month. Our next online talk will be on 20 March when Genevieve Duggan will speak on People without history in eastern Indonesia, powerful or powerless? This will focus on the island of Savu, where Genevieve has conducted research over several decades. More details in my next blog!

Exhibitions and Event: Spotlight on Syria

Ottoman Syria man’s cloak (abaya) back, early 20th century. © Fowler Museum.

Exhibition dates: 17 March – 18 August 2019.

Dressed with Distinction: Garments from Ottoman Syria features a a rare selection of Syrian textiles from the collection of David and Elizabeth Reisbord, dating to the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

“The exhibition features examples of Arab and Ottoman attire dating from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries and celebrates the talents of weavers and tailors in urban centres like Aleppo, Damascus, and Homs where a sophisticated range of dyeing, weaving, and decorative techniques earned the region international renown for its textile production. Men and women living in these cities were famous for wearing brightly coloured clothing worked in silk glittering with gold and silver thread. After World War I (and the end of 400 years of Ottoman rule), Syrians privileged Western attire, leading to an eventual decline in handwoven garment production. More recently, unrest and conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean have virtually eradicated any remnants of these textile traditions and skills. Thus, this exhibition documents the heritage of iconic Arab and Ottoman garments and the importance of fashion as a marker of cultural knowledge.” – Fowler Museum Press Release.

Bedouin man’s coat (damir), late 19th to early 20th century. © Fowler Museum.

This exhibition was curated by Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, the Director of the Textile Research centre in Leiden, and includes examples of clothing worn by both urban and nomadic people. The techniques used include ikat, tapestry weave, brocade and embroidery. These clothes reflected status as well as religious adherence.

For more information and some great textile images go to the website of the Fowler Museum.

On Saturday 27 April Dr Vogelsang-Eastwood will be giving a lecture at the Fowler Museum on Syrian Garments. This will be followed by a book signing and reception. This event is free but registration is required.

9th – 10th century bowl with kufic script. © Art Gallery of South Australia.

In another part of the globe the exhibition Love from Damascus: The art of devotion in Islam, currently showing at the Art Gallery of South Australia, will be closing on 30 April 2019.

This exhibition, curated by James Bennett, explores the divine and worldly aspects of devotion expressed in the arts of Islam over one thousand years. The objects on show include richly decorated gold-illuminated manuscripts and paintings, ceramics, silverware and textiles from the Middle East, India and Indonesia. Among the highlights are richly decorated manuscripts, including Al-Qur’an, from the Turkish Museum of Australia, Melbourne, and the Art Gallery’s own unique copy of Mathnavi by the great medieval Sufi poet.

Visit the Gallery website for further details.

 

************************************

 


 

Event: Textiles that talk – East African Kangas and their meanings

Kanga by Kawira Mwirichia in support of the LGBT community. Translation: “This world is not strong enough to stand my colours”.

Event date: Saturday 8 December 2018, 11:00 to 12:00

Kangas are printed cotton fabrics worn by women in East Africa since the 18th century. Kangas are characterised by a distinctive three-element design: a decorative border; a central panel with recurring motifs; and an inscription. The designs embrace motifs from a global range of decorative traditions, with inscriptions including traditional Swahili proverbs, political slogans, and public information messages.

In this talk, John Ryle discusses kangas and the online archive Textiles That Talk: an open-access collection of high resolution images and metadata—a live catalogue raisonée of kangas. Textiles that Talk  can be explored here. It’s a fascinating archive and well worth a look at the excellent images.

Kanga by Mama Art. Translation: “Obama the choice of God”

John Ryle is Legrand Ramsey Professor of Anthropology at Bard College, New York. He is cofounder of the Rift Valley Institute, a research and public information organisation working in Eastern and Central Africa since 2001, and was Executive Director of the Institute until 2017.

Location: The Fowler Museum at UCLA, 308 Charles E Young Dr N, Los Angeles

 

********************************

Exhibition: How to Make the Universe Right – The Art of Priests and Shamans from Vietnam and Southern China

Exhibition dates: 30 July 2017 – 7 January 2018

‘How to Make the Universe Right’ presents a large selection of rare religious scrolls, ceremonial clothing and ritual objects of the Yao, Tày, Sán Dìu, Cao Lan, Sán Chay, Nùng and other populations of northern Vietnam and southern China. Each group has their own traditions of educating and initiating priests and shamans, who serve as intermediaries between the physical and spiritual worlds and between the community and deities, in order to make the universe right through healing, balancing the forces of nature, and communicating with ancestors. The Yao’s practices are most prominently associated with Daoism, a religious and philosophical tradition of Chinese origin, while for the other peoples, Daoist beliefs are combined with aspects of Buddhism, Tantrism and Confucianism.

The works of art in the exhibition, most of which date to the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, provide the material foundation for the regional manifestations of religious practices. Examples in the exhibition include vibrantly coloured and intricately embroidered ritual robes and headdresses worn by priests, and a spectacular set of eighteen scrolls of elaborately painted deities, made for those engaged in the higher levels of initiation. The exhibition also features a display evoking the shrines constructed for ceremonies, a film on contemporary religious practices in the region, and a selection of scrolls highlighting their recent conservation and what this has revealed.

All of the works on view are part of the Barry and Jill Kitnick Collection generously donated by the Kitnicks to the Fowler Museum at UCLA in 2015.

For more information, visit the website of the Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, USA.

Exhibition: Joli! A Fancy Masquerade from Sierra Leone

fowler-museum-joli-masquerade
Exhibition dates: 11 December 2016 – 16 July 2017

This exhibition features a rare group of eleven headdresses worn in Joli masquerades held in Sierra Leone’s capital city of Freetown in the 1970s. Joli headdresses are among the most unusual, complex and elaborate masquerade configurations we know from sub-Saharan Africa, and they reflect the blending of cultural influences and peoples in the dynamic port city of Freetown. The headdresses in this exhibition were performed to mark the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan. Crafted by Joli Society members, each headdress started with an elaborate armature made of bent and twisted wire, which was padded with polyurethane foam and then covered with textiles, brocades, velvets, netting, Christmas tinsel, fringe, lace and mirrors to create a ‘fancy’ superstructure in a recognisable shape, such as a mosque, an elephant, a biplane or the water spirit Mami Wata. Lastly, a painted wooden face mask or several face masks were attached to the structure, which was worn on top of the head of the fully dressed performer. The exhibition explains the history of Joli and the various threads of influence that led to this fantastic urban masquerade popular for only a brief period in the 1970s.

For more information, visit the website of the Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, USA.

Exhibition: The Spun Universe – Wixárika (Huichol) Yarn Paintings

fowler-museum-spun-universe

Exhibition dates: 14 August – 4 December 2016

The Wixárika people, commonly referred to as the Huichol, traditionally reside in Western Mexico. Since the 1960s, Wixárika artists have garnered international acclaim for their paintings (nierakate) composed of colourful yarn attached to wooden boards with beeswax. Inspired by mythology and shamanic visions associated with the use of the hallucinogenic ‘divine cactus’, peyote (Lophophora williamsii), the paintings are thickly populated with images of sacred animals, humanoid ancestral figures, holy plants and important ritual objects.

Highlighted in this exhibition at the Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, are early works by Ramón Medina Silva, a Wixárika artist who played a major role in the global popularization of nierakate. A master at translat­ing belief and ritual into stunningly arranged strands of spun fibre, Silva’s yarn paintings pulse with vivid depictions of the Wixárika cosmos.

For more information, please visit the website of the Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, USA.

Exhibition: The Box Project – Uncommon Threads

box-project-uncommon-threadsExhibition dates: 11 September 2016 – 15 January 2017

This dazzling exhibition, currently on display in Los Angeles, features commissions by three dozen acclaimed international artists including Richard Tuttle, Cynthia Schira, Helena Hernmarck, James Bassler, Gyöngy Laky, Gerhardt Knodel, Sherri Smith, N. Dash, Lewis Knauss, Ana Lisa Hedstrom, Kiyomi Iwata, Nancy Koenigsberg and John Garrett. It showcases these skilled artists’ ingenious use – and often expansive definitions –  of fibre, while exploring the collector/artist relationship.

The commissioned works come from the Lloyd Cotsen Collection.

For more information, visit the website of the Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, USA.

Exhibitions: Art of the Austronesians – The Legacy of Indo-Pacific Voyaging

Exhibition dates: 24 April – 28 August 2016

Art of the Austronesians, on show at the Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, explores the history and development of the arts and cultures of the Austronesian-speaking peoples – from their prehistoric origins in what is now Taiwan to their successive seafaring migrations over millennia throughout the Philippines, Indonesia, the Pacific and beyond. The first major exhibition in the United States to examine the visual arts of the entire Austronesian world comparatively in a single project, it features a number of important pieces from the Fowler’s collection. Additional works borrowed from private California-based collections, many on view to the public for the first time, contribute to the remarkable breadth of the installation.

Most of the featured artworks date from the last two hundred years and therefore reflect a variety of accumulated influences. Visitors may, nevertheless, trace their development through time as the Austronesian world expanded, and discern among them repeated themes suggesting a common heritage. With nearly 200 works on view, the exhibition offers visitors a rare glimpse into the cultures of the descendants of these voyaging peoples through their visual arts.

For more information, visit the website of the Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, USA.

Textile Tidbits: Weavers’ Stories from Island Southeast Asia

Textile Tidbit - Weavers' Stories from Island Southeast Asia

This Textile Tidbit comes from OATG member and web manager, Pamela Cross.

A while ago, I was pointed in the direction of a series of eight fascinating videos on the website of the Fowler Museum at UCLA. The second interview with a weaver from Timor Leste was particularly recommended to me and I thoroughly agreed. It is very moving with great filming and English subtitles, and gives a real connection to the meaning of a textile. The film on Ndona, Flores is also excellent. It shows the tying of ikat, the dyeing and weaving … and so much more. I found the films to be quite compulsive!

The press release on the exhibition (curated by Roy Hamilton, the Fowler Museum’s curator of Asian and Pacific collections) to which the videos relate, says:

‘In Weavers’ Stories from Island Southeast Asia, weavers and batik artists speak for themselves in videos produced at eight sites in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and East Timor. What motivates women to create new patterns? How do they adjust to changing social and economic situations?

‘A panoply of human emotions and experiences – determination, longing, dream inspiration, theft, war and more – emerge from the stories of these remarkable women. In one video, for example, a weaver in Tutuala, at the far eastern tip of Timor, describes how she designed a cloth pattern by copying the skin of a snake. She recounts that this “snake cloth”, now served by the snake spirit, became an object of such power that when one was stolen during a militia rampage in 1999, the snake destroyed all the coconut trees in Baucau in revenge. Another weaver tells of learning weaving patterns from her deceased mother, an expert weaver, when her mother visits her in dreams.

‘These seven- to ten-minute oral histories include interesting footage of daily life with extended families and the interplay of generations, detailed looks at weaving and dyeing techniques, and unique celebrations, such as a wedding in a sultan’s palace. Textiles created by the featured weavers and batik makers accompany each video.’

Particularly interesting is the fact that the last video is all about Lang Dulay, a famous weaver from Mindanao in the Philippines, who died earlier this year. You can read more about her in a thread on Pamela’s forum, Tribal Textiles.