A few events which have caught my eye…..
Patricia Cheesman with a few of the textiles from her latest exhibition ©City Life Chiang Mai
This week saw the opening of a new exhibition by Patricia Cheesman at Studio Naenna in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Entitled Over the Cordillera it showcases textiles from either side of the Annamite Range between Laos and Vietnam, examining similarities in their motifs. Patricia is the author of several books on the textile of this area. A brief overview of the exhibition, with many extra images featured in City Life Chiang Mai – thanks to Susan Stem for informing me of this.
Patricia Cheesman Gallery
138/8 Soi Chang Khian,
T. Changpeuak, A. Muang Chiang Mai
On 11 December indigo expert Jenny Balfour-Paul will be giving a talk in Paris on England and Holland, explorers of the indigo of the Indies.
Although indigo had been introduced into Italy in the Middle Ages it was “the English and Dutch East Indian companies that led to its expansion into the textiles of Europe of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, allowing considerable production of blue or black woollen cloth. In the nineteenth century, English settlers largely expanded the plantation and indigo production in India, dominating the world market until the advent of synthetic indigo.” (website of the National Institute of Art History).
The talk will be in English and there will be time for questions and viewing some textiles afterwards. Click here to read an interesting interview with Jenny Balfour-Paul on Thomas Machell – the subject of her most recent book Deeper Than Indigo.
December 11, 2019 – 18:00 -20:00
National Institute of Art History, auditorium
6, rue des Petits-Champs or 2, rue Vivienne
Fragment of a horse caparison, England 1330-1340. © RMN-Grand Palais (musée de Cluny – musée national du Moyen-Âge) / Michel Urtado
Also on in Paris is an exhibition at the Musée de Cluny entitled The Art of Embroidery in the Middle Ages. According to the museum’s website “Embroidery with silk thread, gold and silver is one of the most precious and prestigious arts of the Middle Ages. And yet, today, these works are not at all well known.” This exhibition seeks to rectify that situation by looking at the main embroidery centres, from the Germanic regions to Italy, Flanders, England and France. It also provides an overview of the role medieval embroidery played from an artistic and social point of view, covering techniques, manufacturing processes and the relationships between sponsors, embroiderers, painters and merchants.” (museum website)
Photo: Shinpei Shibuya
In complete contrast to all of the silver and gold in Paris, is an exhibition on Bast Fibers of the World which has just opened at the Iwatate Folk Museum in Tokyo. The range of bast fibres is incredible: raffia palm, hemp, ramie, banana were all used before we discovered cotton.
Image courtesy of Takashima Gallery
While in Tokyo do not miss this small exhibition of Textiles of the Ancient Andes at the Takashima Gallery, which ends on 15 December 2019. Fifty textiles dating from 900BC to 1400AD are currently on show. The intensity of their colours is truly amazing! Click here to see great images of more of these textiles.
One of the techniques in which the creators of Andean textiles excelled was cross looping. In this blog for the Cooper Hewitt Elena Phipps examines this fragment of a border (probably for a simple shoulder mantle) made by Nasca needleworkers from the South Coast of Peru at some time between 100BC and 100AD. The yarns used are from various camelids – llamas, alpacas and possibly vicunas.
Recently an attempt has been made to revive this ancient technique. You can read more about the progress made in this blog by Marilyn Murphy of ClothRoads.
Film showing some of the fans on display and the conservation methods used.
Back in the UK the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge has an exhibition of fans from their extensive collection. “The collection of over 600 objects ranges in date from the 18th to the 20th centuries and in type from bejewelled and hand-painted court and wedding fans, to printed mass-produced advertising fans, aide-memoire fans, mourning fans and children’s fans.” (Fitzwilliam Museum website)
I found the accompanying film fascinating, especially the glimpses it gave into the various methods of conservation that were used. I had no idea that fans could be so fascinating!
5 March 2019 – 12 January 2020
The Fitzwilliam Museum
Trumpington St, Cambridge CB2 1RB
Finally I really enjoyed reading this blog by Sara Clugage on the Cooper Hewitt website. In it she examines this portrait of Karl Marx which was woven in silk in Hangzhou at the East is Red factory.
According to Clugage this “woven portrait of Marx is especially poignant, given Marx’s unrelenting criticism of the textile industry. In his early manuscripts of 1844, he quotes at length the capitalist abuses of laborers at textile mills……. Interestingly, Marx points to textile workers as the first to have their skills subsumed to wage labor, erasing the specificity of skilled work and turning it into a laborer’s saleable commodity. This portrait is a deft piece of propaganda, turning from the alienated labor of textile production under capital to its reclamation by workers in a communist society. It successfully encodes communist economic values with nationalist party values.”
Hangzhou is now the home of the China National Silk Museum where research into the history of Chinese silk production is undertaken.