Exhibition: Intrepid Women – Fieldwork in Action, 1910-1957

Audrey Butt Colson making tape recordings with the Wayana people in 1963. Copyright Audrey Butt Colson

Exhibition dates: 15 October 2018 – 11 March 2019

“This exhibition focuses on six of the Pitt Rivers Museum’s most important female collectors and their fieldwork carried out between 1910 and the late 1950s. It is a unique opportunity to see objects and photographs resulting from their travels, as well as original archival material and film on display for the first time.” It has been curated by OATG member Julia Nicholson, with her colleagues Joanna Cole and Zena McGreevy.

These women were each extraordinary in their own way, and conducted research in many different areas. Barbara Freire-Marreco was the first woman to enrol on the Oxford Anthropology Diploma course in 1906. She did her fieldwork in New Mexico and Arizona at the start of the twentieth century. Makereti’s fieldwork was conducted in a different area of the globe – among a Maori community in New Zealand.

Beatrice Blackwood worked in New Guinea in 1936. During the Second World War she used her research to stress to her students that there was no such thing as an Aryan Race. Another researcher caught up in the war was Ursula Graham Bower who conducted her fieldwork in a Naga village. She formed a group of Naga scouts, who were very effective against the Japanese.

Elsie McDougall worked in Mexico and Guatemala in the 1930s and researched ikat techniques, collecting invaluable examples of weaving. Audrey Butt Colson worked in Guyana in the 1950s. She is still using her documentation from that period to help the indigenous communities fight their claim for their ancestral lands.

The objects on display include personal writing and collections of photographs as well as film – all giving us an insight into the achievements of these intrepid women, as well as the hardships they endured. On a personal level I loved the photo of the fierce -looking Papuan warriors playing with Beatrice Blackwood’s cat, Sally.

For more information visit the website of the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford

 

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Event: Workshop on the R. G. Woodthorpe Collection – Illustrating the Nagas

 

 

Event date: Saturday 3 November 2018, 14:00 – 15:30

Organised to accompany the forthcoming Archive Case display Surveying the Nagas, this special workshop provides an opportunity to learn more about the Pitt Rivers Museum’s R. G. Woodthorpe collection of visual material from Nagaland in north-east India. Among items shown and discussed will be several albums of watercolour paintings and photographs conserved in 2010 with the support of the Friends of the Museum. The workshop will be lead by academic specialist Thomas Simpson with curators Philip Grover and Nicholas Crowe. Places are free but limited, so booking is essential.

Location: Pitt Rivers Museum, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PP

To book click here

Event: Textiles from the Arab World collected by Jenny Balfour-Paul

Event date: Tuesday 27 November 2018

Julia Nicholson, Curator and Joint Head of Collections Management, Pitt Rivers Museum and Abigael Flack, Collections Officer, will lead this viewing of some fantastic textiles from the collection of Jenny Balfour-Paul, as well as explaining the role of voluntary community curators in the Multaka Oxford project.

For more information on the type of textiles on view have a look at this blog post written by Abigael,  Textiles from the Arab World: A dress from Palestine. Don’t forget to click on the images to see the enlarged versions of this dress with its red silk embroidery featuring couching and cross-stitch.

Location: Pitt Rivers Museum (South entrance, from South Parks road)

Time: from 4 pm refreshments, 4.30 – 6 p.m. talks and viewing.

Admission is free for OATG members, and £3 for non-members (payment at the door).

Article: – Textiles from the Arab World – A Dress from Palestine

 

Abigael Flack is the Collections Officer at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, and has written a great blog about her work on a dress donated to them by Jenny Balfour-Paul.

Abigael writes:-

“As the Collections Officer, part of my role is cataloguing a recent offer of textiles collected from across the Middle-East and North Africa, which the museum is in the process of acquiring. Costume and textile collections are some of my favourite to work with, particularly because how we dress can say so much about us. As such, costume and textile objects will be a great jumping off point for discussions with our volunteers and participants.

Lately I’ve been working on textiles that were collected from Palestine, like this beautifully embroidered dress. This traditional dress (thob) is probably from either Ramallah or Bethlehem and likely made around the 1920s-30s. It is made from hand woven natural linen and decorated with distinctive red silk embroidery. The silk would likely have been imported from Syria. The dress shows many of the features of traditional Palestinian costume, including the rich colour of the threads and the square chest panel (Qabbah) with embroidered motifs.”

To read the full blog and see more images of this dress click here.

Exhibition: REMINDER – Embroidered Visions – Photographs of Central Asia and the Middle East by Sheila Paine

pitt-rivers-embroidered-visions

Exhibition dates: 1 November 2016 – 30 April 2017

This is a reminder that this exhibition will be open only until the end of this month, and also that a book of the same name is now available (since 25 January), priced at £10. You can find it in the PRM shop or you can purchase it online here.

This exhibition presents a selection of photographs taken by textile expert Sheila Paine during her travels in Central Asia and the Middle East in the late 1980s and through the 1990s. The images have been chosen both to demonstrate the extent of Paine’s travelling, which has culminated in books on embroidery and other subjects, and to reveal her eye for colours and textures also evident elsewhere in her research. Photographs of Central Asia were taken in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and the trading city of Kashgar in western China. Scenes from the Middle East include Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Turkey and, in particular, Yemen. A video screen also shows highlights of a travel documentary presented by Sheila Paine in Yemen, originally broadcast in 1996.

The photographs have been taken from assorted vantage points, sometimes from the top of a bus while travelling between towns, at other times as more intimate portraits of people encountered. Clothing depicted ranges from plain felted cloaks to elaborately embroidered Turkmen tunics. Other photographs show the material processes behind different types of textile, from spinning wool and winding silver thread, to the manufacture of fur hats and pompom horse-trappings.

The social significance of embroidery has been central to Sheila Paine’s research. This has included seeking out and photographing makers, tracking how textiles and designs migrate across distances, and understanding the meaning, especially protective amuletic functions, applied to many of the motifs. Her published travel trilogy – comprising The Afghan Amulet (1994), The Golden Horde (1997) and The Linen Goddess (2003) – was written about the journeys featured in this exhibition’s photographs, and documents her search for the origins of a triangular amuletic motif that takes her from the Hindu Kush to North Africa. Her interest in the power of such symbols and wearable talismans also resulted in the 2004 book Amulets: A World of Secret Powers, Charms and Magic. Travelling extensively since the mid-1980s, Paine acquired numerous textiles and amulets in the course of this work, many of which are now held in the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, alongside her collection of over three thousand photographs generously donated since 2012.

For more information, visit the website of the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.

Exhibition: Embroidered Visions – Photographs of Central Asia and the Middle East by Sheila Paine

pitt-rivers-embroidered-visions

Exhibition dates: 1 November 2016 – 30 April 2017

This exhibition presents a selection of photographs taken by textile expert Sheila Paine during her travels in Central Asia and the Middle East in the late 1980s and through the 1990s. The images have been chosen both to demonstrate the extent of Paine’s travelling, which has culminated in books on embroidery and other subjects, and to reveal her eye for colours and textures also evident elsewhere in her research. Photographs of Central Asia were taken in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and the trading city of Kashgar in western China. Scenes from the Middle East include Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Turkey and, in particular, Yemen. A video screen also shows highlights of a travel documentary presented by Sheila Paine in Yemen, originally broadcast in 1996.

The photographs have been taken from assorted vantage points, sometimes from the top of a bus while travelling between towns, at other times as more intimate portraits of people encountered. Clothing depicted ranges from plain felted cloaks to elaborately embroidered Turkmen tunics. Other photographs show the material processes behind different types of textile, from spinning wool and winding silver thread, to the manufacture of fur hats and pompom horse-trappings.

The social significance of embroidery has been central to Sheila Paine’s research. This has included seeking out and photographing makers, tracking how textiles and designs migrate across distances, and understanding the meaning, especially protective amuletic functions, applied to many of the motifs. Her published travel trilogy – comprising The Afghan Amulet (1994), The Golden Horde (1997) and The Linen Goddess (2003) – was written about the journeys featured in this exhibition’s photographs, and documents her search for the origins of a triangular amuletic motif that takes her from the Hindu Kush to North Africa. Her interest in the power of such symbols and wearable talismans also resulted in the 2004 book Amulets: A World of Secret Powers, Charms and Magic. Travelling extensively since the mid-1980s, Paine acquired numerous textiles and amulets in the course of this work, many of which are now held in the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, alongside her collection of over three thousand photographs generously donated since 2012.

For more information, visit the website of the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.

Event: Sheila Paine – Traveller, Writer, Photographer and Collector

oatg-john-gillow-talks-about-sheila-paine

Event date: Wednesday 2 November 2016, 6.30 pm

OATG member John Gillow will give an illustrated talk next week about Sheila Paine and her extraordinary travels, writing, talent as a photographer and passion for embroidered textiles.

John Gillow has travelled the world for many years, studying, collecting and writing about textiles. His books include African Textiles, Traditional Indian Textiles and World Textiles.

Location: Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford (South entrance, from South Parks Road). The museum will be open half an hour before the talk and afterwards to view the two associated displays of Sheila Paine’s textiles and photographs.

Admission is free for members, and £3 for non-members. To book your place at this event, please RSVP on the Eventbrite page.

For more information, visit the website of the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford.

Textile Tidbits: Mounting a Tahitian Mourner’s Costume

Pitt Rivers Museum - Mounting a Tahitian Mourner's Costume

The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford recently shared a blog post all about the work involved in mounting an elaborate eighteenth-century Tahitian mourning costume, ready for display. This enormous many-layered outfit, made mostly of barkcloth, but with additional decoration made from feathers and shells, forms part of the museum’s new Cook Voyage display case.

Best of all, the blog includes a stop-motion video of the mounting process, so you can watch how the whole thing was put together. It makes fascinating viewing!

To read the full blog post, and to watch a video of this costume being assembled on the mount, visit the Pitt Rivers’ Museum’s Conserving ‘Curiosities’ blog.