Textiles from Mali, Nigeria, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan and the Russian Kola Peninsula

I’ve just found out about some talks taking place later this week, which will be of interest to our members.

North House Folk School, based in Grand Marais, Minnesota, is currently celebrating its annual Fiber Week. They are having lots of events on site, but also several webinars on textile traditions from around the world. These webinars will be live, but also recorded and available until the end of February.

© Multicolores

The first webinar takes place on Thursday 17 February at 19:00 CT, which is 1am GMT – so the recording will be very useful! Multicolores is a Guatemalan non-profit organisation, which helps Maya women artists from nine different communities in rural highland villages.  Its Creative Director, Madeline Kreider Carlson, will discuss how these women are producing hooked rugs and embroideries with traditional motifs but using old clothes that would otherwise have gone to landfill. Click here to register for Stitching Stories, Crafting Change: the Maya Women Artists of Multicolores Guatemala.

There are also two talks the following day at times that will work for many of our members.

© Dinara Chochunbaeva

Dinara Chochunbaeva will give a webinar on Friday 18 February at 08:00 CT, which is 14:00 GMT, on the subject Kyrgyz Felt in the Past, Present and Future: Traditions, Problems, and Perspectives.

Feltmaking has taken place in Eurasia for centuries and many will be familiar with the Kyrgyz felt rugs known as shyrdak. Dinara will discuss how the feltmakers are trying to preserve and develop this ancient tradition, ensuring skills are passed to the next generation.

© Dinara Chochunbaeva

I particularly enjoyed this article she wrote for Garland magazine in 2019. In it she talks about some of the patterns used and their protective qualities, and invokes a real sense of the communal nature of shyrdak production. Do click on the link below the image of the women with the fleeces in the article to see more excellent images.

You might also enjoy reading this illustrated paper Kyrgyz Felt of the 20th and 21st Centuries, which she gave at the Textile Society of America Symposium in 2010. I was fascinated to read her description of the use of felt in traditional medicine.

© Tina Sovkina

The next webinar begins at 10:00 CT, which is 16:00 GMT and the speaker is Tina Sovkina. Her subject is Saami Textile Traditions of the Russian Kola Peninsula. “ She will share stories and images of the traditional dress and textile practices of the indigenous people of the Arctic, as well as her efforts to promote, protect and preserve the culture of her people.” – North House website.

Photo by Muhammed Dallatu, Kano, December 14, 2019.

On Wednesday 23 February Dr Elisha Renne will be discussing some of her research with Sarah Fee in a Zoom programme as part of the Textile Museum Journal series. She will talk about “ her research collaboration with the late Abdulkarim Umar DanAsabe on a selection of royal garments worn by the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II.

Dr. Renne examines the royal garments alongside discussions with palace officials, embroiderers and tailors. By analyzing photographs of burnouses, robes and turbans worn by Sarkin Muhammadu Sanusi II and earlier emirs, she learned how these garments illustrate their public nature and how they have contributed to the continuing political authority of traditional rulers in northern Nigeria.” – Textile Museum website.

The talk is entitled Royal Garments of the Emir of Kano and it begins at 12:00 EST, which is 17:00 GMT. You can register for it here.

An example of bogolanfini on display in Dallas

A reminder that an excellent exhibition on mud cloth continues for most of this year at the Dallas Museum of Art in the US. Bamana Mud Cloth: From Mali to the World runs until 4 December 2022.

“Mud cloth, or bogolanfini, originated among the Bamana peoples of Mali and its designs can be spotted in products across the world, although the source is not always credited. Bamana peoples used the dye-decorated cloth to make tunics for male hunters and wrappers for females to mark the most important milestones in their lives. While the cloth was previously associated with rural village life, today bogolanfini is worn by urban people, identifying them as native Malians.​

The culturally significant designs on bogolanfini are painted by women with a dye made from fermented mud onto cloth handwoven by men”. – Dallas Museum website

This article by Kimberly Richard for the NBC Dallas website gave a bit more background and a reminder of what a lengthy process making a piece of bogolanfini can be.

I also found this very detailed information on the website of the British Museum useful.

OATG members with our Chair Helen Wolfe in the courtyard of the British Museum. Photo by Cecilia Lloyd.

Speaking of the British Museum, the OATG were delighted to finally be able to offer a small group tour of the Peru exhibition last week. Our Chair, Helen Wolfe gave a short talk before showing the group the exhibits – with special emphasis on the textiles of course!

The exhibition runs until 20 February 2022 so if you want to see some fantastic textiles be quick!

Helen enlightening the group about the textiles they were to see. Photo by Gavin Strachan
Cecilia Lloyd and Jan Thompson admiring two colourful woven shawls, 19th – 20th century. Photo by Helen Wolfe
Felicity Wood and Judith Condor-Vidal viewing a tunic (unku) in the Colonial section of the exhibition, AD 1650-1700. Photo by Helen Wolfe

Exhibition: Making & Unmaking

Camden Arts Centre - Making and Unmaking

Exhibition dates: 19 June – 18 September 2016

Making & Unmaking, curated by Duro Olowu (b. 1965, Lagos), is the latest in a series of artist-selected shows at the Camden Arts Centre, London. Duro Olowu is a celebrated fashion designer whose bold innovations with pattern, colour and shape reveal his early influences living between Nigeria and Europe, and his ongoing fascination with the world. His fluency with diverse aesthetics can be seen in the clothes he makes as well as the exhibitions he has curated, which combine antique textiles with his own fabric designs, bringing together discordant colours and patterns alongside disparate cultural forms.

Filling all three galleries, the Central Space, Reading Room and Garden, this exhibition draws together over 70 artists from around the world spanning this century and the last, including nineteenth-century textiles made by unknown hands. Individually, each work has a story to tell; collectively, they begin a conversation in which visual, narrative and thematic relationships unfold. This eclectic collage of works, some of which have strong political undercurrents, addresses issues surrounding cultural identity, sexuality and the representation of the body. Olowu’s exhibition invites a multifaceted journey of encounters with the intuition, skill and vision of the artists represented within it.

Artists featured: Anni Albers, Louise Bourgeois, Carol Bove, Yinka Shonibare, and many many more.

For more information, visit the website of the Camden Arts Centre, London, UK.