Arctic batik exhibition, Egyptian appliqué and Palestinian embroidery.

A new exhibition opens later this week in Berne, Switzerland. The Museum Cerny will be showing a collection of batiks, created in the 1970s by Inuit artists from Nunavik in the far north of Quebec, Canada. I was really surprised to hear of this use of a textile tradition, that I associate with Asia and Africa, by indigenous artists in Canada.

©Museum Cerny

Apparently in 1973 the artist Chinkok Tan, who was born in Malaysia, held workshops at Great Whale River and introduced local artists to this technique. The pieces created then show real confidence, but sadly the production of more batik pieces never took off due to a lack of materials. The exhibition will run until 26 September 2021. An interesting article by the museum co-director Martin Schultz, with more images of these striking batiks, can be found here.

Caribou, 1973, Annie Mikpigak. ©Museum Cerny

The Institute of Islamic Studies at the University of Toronto have just opened the registration for another event in their series Crafting Conversations: Discourses on the Craft Heritage of the Islamic World – Past, Present and Future.

Master craftsman Tarek El Safty at work. © Ola Seif

Seif El Rashidi, Director of the Barakat Trust, will speak on the subject From Craft To Art: Egyptian Appliqué-work in Light of Local and Global Changes. He is the co-author (with Sam Bowker) of The Tentmakers of Cairo: Egypt’s Medieval and Modern Applique Craft (AUC Press, 2018). This conversation with Dr Fahmida Suleman (Royal Ontario Museum) and Dr Heba Mostafa (University of Toronto) “explores the over one thousand-year-old tradition of textile appliqué work (khayamiyya) in Egypt, which continues to thrive in the ‘Street of the Tentmakers’ in the heart of historic Cairo’s bustling centre.” – website. This free event takes place on Saturday 27 March at 11:00 EST, which is 15:00 in the UK. Full details and registration here.

Recordings of previous conversations in this series are available here. I particularly enjoyed the one by Omar Nasser-Khoury on Embroidery from Palestine. Omar is one of the co-authors of Seventeen Embroidery Techniques from Palestine.

Please note:- This event is part of an eight-part monthly series entitled “Crafting Conversations: Discourses on the Craft Heritage of the Islamic World – Past, Present and Future,” an initiative of the Islamic Art and Material Culture Collaborative (IAMCC), Toronto, Canada. For more information on the series and the IAMCC, please visit their website. This event will be held via Zoom. If you have any questions or want to be added to the IAMCC mailing list please email Dr Fahmida Suleman of the Royal Ontario Museum.

Exhibition: Costume and Custom – Middle Eastern Threads at Olana

Exhibition dates: 17 June – 25 November 2018

This exhibition in the former home of the American artist Frederic Church (1826-190) will highlight for the first time the historic costumes Church collected during his 1867-68 journey to Beirut, Damascus, Jerusalem, Petra and other Middle Eastern cities. They will be displayed within the historic rooms of Olana’s main house, whose design was inspired by Churches’ Middle Eastern travels, and Olana’s Sharp Family Gallery will present new research on the collection and its relationship to Church’s work and that of his contemporaries, including Church’s friend and guest at Olana, Mark Twain.

The exhibition will reunite Church’s historic costume collection with both Church’s artwork that it helped to inspire and inform, and the rich interiors of his home that he filled with objects and decorative details inspired by his Middle Eastern travels. In one extraordinary case these are one and the same. Within Isabel Church’s Sitting Room hangs Church’s master work “El Khasné, Petra” (1874), whose foreground features figures clothed in the costume pieces Church brought back to his studio, and which inspired the decoration of the room, especially the decorative painted pseudo-Arabic inscriptions that run throughout the space.

The wide array of historic costumes, often intricately embroidered, reflects the extraordinary craft and creativity of the Middle Eastern people who created it and speaks as well to the evolution of ideas of gender and cultural identity in the Middle East and beyond. A publication developed in conjunction with this exhibition will include essays by costume historian Lynne Bassett and Palestinian costume expert Hanan Karaman Munayyer on the people who originally wore the clothing collected by Church and on the artist’s use of the historic costume in his home and art.

For more information visit the Olana website.

Location: Olana State Historic Site, 5720 State Route 9G, Hudson, NY 12534

Event: Ian and Jenifer Rutherford Talk about Palestinian Textiles and Costume for ORTS

ORTS - Palestinian Textiles and Costume

Event date: Wednesday 27 January 2016, 7pm (doors open at 6pm)

This is an Oriental Rug and Textile Society event.

Ian and Jeni Rutherford lived for several years in Jerusalem from the late 1990s.  After the Oslo Accord Ian managed a branch of an international bank in East Jerusalem, the bank having inherited several West Bank branches of the Ottoman Bank, which closed in 1967.

Their talk will take us through the historical and regional variations of pattern, material technique and changes in fashion from the late 1900s onwards. Each item has a history and they will explain their journey as collectors.  They are bringing textiles and costumes 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).

For more information, visit the website of the Oriental Rug and Textile Society.