More reopenings!

 

PLEASE NOTE Subscribers who usually read this blog via their email may need to click on the blue title to access it through our WordPress site instead to enable them to watch the video.

Many museums are either now open once again, or are preparing to reopen soon. There will obviously be some changes to the visitor experience. In many cases tickets have to be booked in advance and one-way routes have been marked out. For example the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford reopened this week and everyone, including members, has to book their ticket in advance. This should lead to a better experience for all visitors.

The British Museum will be reopening on 27 August. To begin with only a selection of galleries will be opening, with more to be added later. Click here for the full list. Visitors will need to book a timed slot and follow the one-way route marked out.

The V&A in London has also partially reopened, with more galleries to be added to the list in the coming weeks. Please check their website for the new opening hours. Most exciting is the fact that their fantastic exhibition Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk will reopen on 27 August!

Standing courtesan, colour print from woodblocks, Katsukawa Shunsen, 1804-18, Japan. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

 

Parr (1893–1969); cotton or polyester cotton blend; screen printed. © Dorset Fine Arts

Further afield the Textile Museum of Canada opens again to the public on 19 August. Their current exhibition is entitled Printed Textiles from Kinngait Studios and celebrates these textiles which show the traditional way of life. Curated by Roxane Shaughnessy the exhibition also includes a small selection of clothing and footwear in addition to the examples of printed cloth. Last December I blogged about this exhibition, and a video has now been added to the museum’s website. For those (most of us) who can’t get to the museum this gives us a flavour of the textiles on display.

Last month I blogged about the major exhibition of chintz at the Royal Ontario Museum which had been postponed due to the pandemic. This will now open on 12 September. The museum website has lots of interesting background information and videos, including one about a rare book of Indian chintz patterns recorded by a Japanese cloth manufacturer which was published in 1785. Best of all is the video featuring OATG member Sarah Fee (the curator of this exhibition) in conversation with Anjli Patel examining the chintz collection “from the importance of historical pieces to the work of top designers embracing this heritage textile today.” This gives us a chance to see several of the textiles from the exhibition in close-up.

 

I was recently checking some of the Asian textile links on our WordPress site and noticed the Harris Museum in Preston, UK was listed. I checked out their website to see what collections they held, and became fascinated by the story of John Forbes Watson. In 1866 he put together an 18 volume set of fabric sample books entitled The Textile Manufactures of India. This was published by the India Office of the British Government. Forbes Watson was Reporter on the Products of India at the India Museum in London. As such he was responsible for identifying and cataloguing Indian products for the Secretary of State for India. “Forbes Watson’s great skill was as an organiser and cataloguer of information and objects. He re-organised the India Museum’s collections and published on a variety of subjects, including Indian tobacco, tea cultivation, and cotton. He even tried to catalogue the population of India in a photographic series called The Peoples of India (8 vols, 1868-75).” – Harris Museum website.

John Forbes Watson 1827-1892

Although he had worked in India for several years as a physician in the Bombay Medical Service, he did not return to India to collect the samples used in these books. Instead – textile lovers and curators look away now – he cut out sections from fabrics held in the stores of the India Museum and used them to create 20 sets of the 18 volume books. As you can imagine this involved hundreds of samples. The India Museum closed in 1879 and much of its contents were sent to the South Kensington Museum, now the V&A.

It’s important to realise that the fabrics chosen were not intended to fully represent the wide variety of textiles made in the region. Forbes Watson’s focus was on those fabrics which could be useful to British industry, more specifically to show manufacturers what they could copy. According to him “The 700 specimens … show what the people of India affect and deem suitable in the way of textile fabrics, and if the supply of these is to come from Britain, they must be imitated there. What is wanted, and what it is to be copied to meet that want, is thus accessible for study”.

 

Sample no 24 listed as a turban from fine cotton made in Jeypoor in Rajpootana.

 

A design registered by a British manufacturer which is clearly a copy of the sample shown above. ©Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston.

The Harris Museum website has a lot of fascinating background to these volumes and has now made all 700 textile samples in these books available to explore digitally for the first time. It is possible to just browse through each volume, or you can search under different categories. The title of the volumes is actually misleading as it only mentions India but they do contain some textiles from further afield such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan and Nepal. I highly recommend taking a look.

A few days after discovering that website 2 different friends shared an article about these volumes from an Indian perspective. Written by Kaamya Sharma for The Hindu, we learn how copies of these books were sent to many British manufacturing locations and “As a result, cheap, mass-produced, British replicas of these samples inundated the Indian market within a decade. These were print imitations of intricate weaves whose technique had been developed and perfected by Indian weavers over several centuries. The cheaper prices of British textiles had a predictably devastating impact on Indian handlooms.” Forbes Watson was clearly a great admirer of Indian textiles and his books of samples are invaluable to textile historians, but we also need to acknowledge the devastating impact their publication had on the very textiles he so admired.

 

Moving to another area of Asia, I found this video by the Tracing Patterns Foundation on banana fibre cloths from Mindanao fascinating. This time the speaker is Craig Diamond, who has a passion for these T’nalak cloths woven by the Tboli people. The technique used is warp ikat and the colours are obtained using natural dyes. Craig explained that black is seen as the background, red as an embellishment, and white as the primary pattern. This was most helpful and something not every presenter would have thought of. The cloths have several uses, both for ceremonies and as a form of currency. I was amazed to learn that some are 35 feet in length!

With my interest piqued I started to look for more information on this textile tradition and found this article on the Narra Studio website provided a lot of background on how textiles are seen as a form of storytelling.

We hope OATG members enjoyed the special Lockdown Newsletter with a variety of interesting articles which was sent out last month. Please don’t forget to email our editor Gavin Strachan by the end of August if you have ideas for the next newsletter. These are being produced in addition to our usual Asian Textiles journal in recognition of the fact that we are currently not able to provide our usual programme of events. Don’t forget that all 76 back issues of our journals are available to search through and view online for members, with the first 62 also being available to non-members.

Newsflash!

Another exciting treat will also soon be arriving in your inboxes. Chris Buckley and Sandra Sardjono have produced an excellent video for us on Minangkabau Looms and Textiles. This will be in a password-protected area of our website and all members will receive the password in the coming days.

 

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

 


 

 

Textile news

For subscribers who usually read this blog in their email, may I suggest that instead you access it on our WordPress site by clicking on the blue title. This should ensure you don’t have any problems watching the videos and reading the PDF documents in this blog.

 

Subscribers can look forward to the next edition of our Asian Textiles Journal landing on their doorsteps in the near future. This issue includes a substantial article by Nick Fielding on the Reverend Dr Henry Lansdell, one of the great Victorian collectors who collected thousands of objects from Central and Northern Asia as well as India and America. The article contains several photographs of textiles held in the reserve collection of the British Museum, located by our Chair, Helen Wolfe. Other features focus on Double warp weaving in Poland (Fiona Kerlogue), Ottoman saddles and saddle cloths, a Chinese child’s tiger hat (Felicity Wood), the OATG tapestry weaving clinic (Jen Gurd) and our Show and Tell from January.

Members can access pdf versions of all past issues by using the password on the back page of the Journal. Non-members can access issues from 1995 to 2017 by clicking here This is a really great resource with articles by many leading scholars and academics.

 

Parr (1893–1969); cotton or polyester cotton blend; screen printed. © Dorset Fine Arts

Several museums that have been unable to open physically have produced virtual tours of their exhibitions. I blogged about this exhibition at the Textile Museum of Canada last December, but thought it was worth repeating as a video has now been added. It is entitled Printed Textiles from Kinngait Studios and celebrates these textiles which show the traditional way of life. Curated by Roxanne Shaughnessy the exhibition also includes a small selection of clothing and footwear in addition to the examples of printed cloth.

 

Kate Taylor has written an interesting article on this exhibition for The Globe and Mail. In it she explains that as “the Canadian government forced a people living on the land into permanent settlements, the Inuit began to need cash. The art projects…… were initially introduced by government agents. The idea was that the skills used to carve stone, incise bone and sew clothing could be adapted to produce handicrafts for southern markets. But carving and printmaking were just two possibilities: This show offers a wide selection of rarely seen textiles, startlingly modernist and highly colourful designs created in the 1950s and 60s.”

 

Utagawa Hiroshige, colour woodblock print showing a view of Edo, 1858. © British Museum

The British Museum has a new series of blogs in the style of historical travel guides. I really enjoyed this guide to 19th century Edo (Tokyo) by Alfred Haft, JTI Project Curator for Japanese Collections. He discusses the best time to visit, how to get there, getting around (sedan chairs can be rented), things to see and do, where to stay and even what to eat. Visitors are reminded that they must bow to every samurai they encounter – they are easily recognised by the two swords that they wear. The blog has lots of excellent woodblocks and paintings so do take a look.

 

American star quilt, 1840’s (TRC 2018.3119). ©TRC

The Textile Research Centre in Leiden reopened on 2 June, obviously subject to some Covid restrictions. Their current exhibition is on the subject of American Quilts and several are featured in this article on the Selvedge website, including one with a rather heartbreaking back story.

 

‘Safety First Veil, a Flu Preventive’, WWD, October 23rd, 1918.

While checking the details on the TRC website this blog by Loren G. Mealey caught my eye. In it she looks at the different types of face coverings that were used during the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918. I was amazed to hear that people poked holes in their masks so that they could smoke – hopefully the fabric was flame-retardant! One of the punishments for breaking the masking rules was to have your name printed in the newspaper…..

 

 

On Sunday 14 June the British-Uzbek Society will host a Zoom talk by Marinika Babanazarova, the former curator of the Savitsky Museum in Nukus, Qaraqalpaqstan, which many OATG members will be familiar with through the work of Sheila Paine and David and Sue Richardson. This museum is full of fantastic avant-garde paintings, as well as a remarkable collection of textiles and jewellery. This 55 minute talk will take place at 15:00 GMT and costs £5. For more information click here or email Rosa at this address. The number of places are limited so don’t delay!

 

 

OATG member Chris Buckley has put together another fascinating short video, filmed and edited by Sandra Sardjono. This one focusses on a blue and white Kerek batik from East Java. Chris looks at the similarities of the technique and materials used with those of mainland Southeast Asia, in particular Chinese blue and white ceramics with marine designs as a possible source of design inspiration. He also examines indigo paste resist in China and the wax resist techniques used by the Hmong in Vietnam.

 

 

Click to access lecturelist.pdf

 

 

The Indonesian Heritage Society have supported “Meet the Makers” for many years. This event usually takes place near Jakarta and brings artisans from all over the archipelago together. Keen to continue to spread the word about these artists the Society have put together a set of 10 talks on a variety of subjects. Each webinar will be available for a donation of 5 USD, which can be paid using PayPal. These donations will be used to directly support the craftspeople. The full list of talks and further information is given in the PDF above.

 

Click to access mtm-webinar-kaleidoscope-biboki-2020.pdf

The first talk takes place on 18 June and features Joanna Barrkman, Senior Curator of Southeast Asian and Pacific Arts at the Fowler Museum and Yovita Meta, Director of Tafean Pah – a non-profit organisation which serves 150 weavers in 10 villages. See the PDF above for full details.

 

Finally, OATG members David and Sue Richardson have added another section to their Asian Textile Studies website. This examines the textiles of the Klon people of the island of Alor in eastern Indonesia, giving information on their history, language, culture and of course their textiles. There are some wonderful images of Klon beadwork as you can see from the image above.

 

 

 

 

 

Films and online resources

 

I recently blogged about the Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara exhibition which opened recently at the Met Fifth Avenue, in New York. The museum have now released a short film with an overview of some of the artefacts on display in the exhibition. These include a royal robe from West Africa which is dated to pre-1659 and was dyed with indigo.

 

 

Details
30 January – 10 May 2020
The Met Fifth Avenue, 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York

The Met is currently celebrating its 150 year anniversary and to mark the occasion they will be releasing one film every Friday from their archive. This archive contains over 1500 films that date from the 1920s to the present. Some of them were made by the museum itself and others were collected. It seems very appropriate to share this film from 1928 which is a look behind the scenes. In this film you can see how they were preparing a mannequin to display a suit of armour and how the upholstery team worked to restore tapestries. I was amazed to see the beautiful hand-lettered labels being produced too.

 

 

While on the subject of museums, I highly recommend looking at the website of the Textile Museum of Canada. Click through to the Collections page where you can either search for specific items of interest or just browse. For example, I was drawn to this wedding blouse from Sindh in the section Explore Ceremonial Cloths. As well as providing excellent images of the front, back and a detail of this piece the page also shows other related pieces – several wedding blouses from India and Pakistan and one from Hungary – enabling the viewer to see similarities and differences at a glance.

 

Lohana wedding blouse from Sindh. © Textile Museum of Canada.

 

Another great resource is the Digital Exhibitions section of the Textile Research Centre Leiden website. These cover a wide range of subjects ranging from Chinese Lotus Shoes to the Tentmakers of Cairo. Each exhibition is accompanied by several images and is broken down into different sections with informative text. The image below is from the Afghan Dress exhibition. This is split across no less than 15 pages which examine Hamid Karzai and dress as a national unifying force, the textiles of several of the different ethnic groups, wedding costume etc. Do take a look, but be warned – it’s a rabbithole and you may be there for some time….

Dress from Afghanistan. Image Courtesy Textile Research Centre, Leiden. TRC 2008.0228b

 

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

 


 

A veritable cornucopia of worldwide textile events!

Later next month a new exhibition entitled Unbound: Visionary Women Collecting Textiles opens at Two Temple Place in London. This exhibition “celebrates seven pioneering women who saw beyond the purely functional, to reveal the extraordinary artistic, social and cultural importance of textiles.” Two Temple Place website. 

This is a very collaborative project, curated by June Hill and Lotte Crawford and involving no less than seven museums and art galleries from different areas of the country. It’s interesting that they are looking at the role of women as collectors, not as makers of textiles.

Embroidered japangi or cloak from Albania

The female collectors discussed include Edith Durham, who first visited the Balkans in 1900. As well as documenting the craft traditions of the area she also became involved with local politics, helping in hospitals and with refugees and campaigning. This blog about her recalls how she came into conflict with the Foreign office who marked her card thus: Durham, Miss M.E.: Inadvisability of corresponding with……

Louisa at the Khyber Pass

Louisa Pesel was the first President of the Embroiderers Guild and in addition to her own stunning designs for Winchester Cathedral she collected textiles from many places including Morocco, Turkestan, Syria and China. Many of these were donated to the University of Leeds. An excellent source of information about her is this blog by Colin Neville.

The other collectors the exhibition features are Olive Matthews, Enid Marx, Muriel Rose, Jennifer Harris and Nima Poovaya-Smith.

“The exhibition looks at how these collections continue to influence us today and asks why textiles still have to fight for their place amongst the more established visual arts” – a question which I often ask myself too.

In many ways the focus of this exhibition reminds me of one held at the Pitt Rivers Museum earlier this year called Intrepid Women. See my earlier blog on this subject.

Details
25 January – 19 April 2020
Two Temple Place, London WC2R 3BD
Admission free

 

 

Also opening late next month at The Met Fifth Avenue is Sahel: Art and Empires on the Shores of the Sahara which focusses on the area today encompassed by Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. The history of this region will be illuminated through more than two hundred items. The majority of these will be sculptures, but some textiles are also included. Click here for more details.

Details
30 January – 10 May 2020
The Met Fifth Avenue, 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York

 

The next talk in the programme of the Oriental Rug and Textile Society is by Zara Fleming on the subject of Bhutanese Textiles: Ritualistic and Everyday textiles of Bhutan. Zara will explain how textiles are woven into everyday life and are used as clothing, currency and gifts. They are also used to signify status and are a vital component of Bhutanese festivals, dances and Buddhist rituals.

Details
22 January 2020 at 19:00
The University Women’s Club, 2 Audley Square, London, W1K 1D8

For further details go to the ORTS website

 

Ngatu (decorated bark cloth) with spitfire plane motif c1940s. © Kitmin Lee

Koloa: Women, Art, and Technology is an exhibition which opened recently in Hong Kong. It is presented by Para Site in conjunction with Tunakaimanu Fielakepa who is the “foremost knowledge-holder of ‘koloa‘ or customary women’s arts in Tonga”. This exhibition was previously on show in Tonga earlier in 2019. It “features a rich array of Tongan art practices, focused upon the main categories constituting koloa: ngatu or bark cloth making and fine weaving such as ta’ovala garments and ceremonial mats, as well as kafa or woven rope. The presentation includes prized, heirloom pieces as well as newly produced examples specially commissioned for the exhibition.” Para Site website. Additional works by three women artists – Tanya Edwards, Nikau Hindin and Vaimaila Urale – are also included to showcase aesthetic lineages in the Pacific.

A mixed design Tongan kupesi which was made before the 1930s. Courtesy of Lady Tunakaimanu Fielakepa

Details
7 December 2019 – 23 February 2020.
G/F & 22/F, Wing Wah Ind. Building, 677 King’s Road, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong.

 

Three-layered lined kimono

There are only a couple of weeks left to see the exhibition in Heidelberg called Good Wishes in Silk: Children’s Kimono from the Nakano Collection. Kazuko Nakano has compiled a collection of almost a thousand objects that provide insights into the colourful and symbolic art of kimono design from the Edo period (1603-1868) to the present day.

A selection of around 80 children’s kimonos is now presented in Germany for the first time. Some of these examples are rather sophisticated and are clearly intended to be worn on special occasions, while others are more simple everyday wear. “They are genuine works of art, with a great variety of decorative motifs, and can be perceived as a kind of embroidered wish list with which the parents equip their children for their future lives.”

Details
27 October 2019 – 12 January 2020
Kurpfälzisches Museum Heidelberg, Hauptstrasse 97, 69117 Heidelberg

 

Kaparamip with red cotton fabric border © Textiles of Japan: The Thomas Murray Collection at The Minneapolis Institute of Art

The January programme from the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California (TMASC) is a talk by Thomas Murray – a well-respected researcher, collector, dealer and author of several books, the latest being Textiles of Japan: The Thomas Murray Collection.

This talk, entitled Traditional Textiles of Japan, will explore Japan’s rich tradition of textiles, from firemen’s ceremonial robes and austere rural workwear to colourful, delicately-patterned cotton kimono. “The traditional clothing and fabrics featured in this lecture were made and used in the islands of the Japanese archipelago between the late 18th and the mid-20th century. The Thomas Murray collection includes daily dress, workwear, and festival garb and follows the Arts and Crafts philosophy of the Mingei Movement, which saw that modernisation would leave behind traditional art forms such as the handmade textiles used by country people, farmers, and fishermen. The talk will present subtly patterned cotton fabrics, often indigo-dyed from the main islands of Honshu and Kyushu, along with garments of the more remote islands: the graphic bark cloth, nettle fibre, and fish skin robes of the aboriginal Ainu in Hokkaido and Sakhalin to the north, and the brilliantly coloured cotton kimono of Okinawa to the far south.” – Thomas Murray.

Details
Saturday 25 January 2020 10:00am
Luther Hall, St Bede’s Episcopal Church, 3590 Grand View Blvd., Los Angeles

For further information and to reserve a place please email info@tmasc.org

 

 

A very engaging review of Murray’s book appeared in the Nov-Dec 2019 issue of Arts of Asia, along with several stunning illustrations. This gave a huge amount of background into how the book came into being and really conveyed a sense of the passion for Japanese culture behind it. Those who don’t have access to Arts of Asia should take a look at The fabrics that reveal the ‘other’ Japan written for BBC Future by Andrea Marechal Watson. The images contained in her article should certainly whet your appetite to take a further look at the book from which they are drawn. For further information about the Ainu see my blog from January 2019.

 

Outer kimono for a young woman (uchikake), 1800 – 30, probably Kyoto, Japan. © Image Courtesy of the Joshibi University of Art and Design Art Museum, 2204-36

I don’t usually blog about events far in advance, but the exhibition Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk at the V&A in London which opens in February is sure to be very popular – in fact the members’ preview day has already sold out. It is being curated by Anna Jackson, Keeper of the Asian Department, who also wrote the introduction to Thomas Murray’s book.

Details
Opens 29 February 2020
Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London

 

Parr (1893–1969); cotton or polyester cotton blend; screen printed. © Dorset Fine Arts

The current exhibition at the Textile Museum of Canada is entitled Printed Textiles from Kinngait Studios and celebrates these textiles which show the traditional way of life. Curated by Roxanne Shaughnessy the exhibition also includes a small selection of clothing and footwear in addition to the examples of printed cloth.

Kate Taylor has written an interesting article on this exhibition for The Globe and Mail. In it she explains that as “the Canadian government forced a people living on the land into permanent settlements, the Inuit began to need cash. The art projects…… were initially introduced by government agents. The idea was that the skills used to carve stone, incise bone and sew clothing could be adapted to produce handicrafts for southern markets. But carving and printmaking were just two possibilities: This show offers a wide selection of rarely seen textiles, startlingly modernist and highly colourful designs created in the 1950s and 60s.”

A full colour catalogue will be available in 2020.

Details
7 December 2019 – 30 August 2020
Textile Museum of Canada, 55 Centre Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M5G 2H5.

 

John Ang will give a talk on The Influence of Foreign Fashion Trends on Malay Dress to the Textile Enthusiasts Group, which is linked to the Friends of the Museums (Singapore). He will discuss the origins and hybrid nature of Malay clothing. John stresses that “Malay dress is not static but always changing. Rather than seeing particular forms of clothing as Malay dress, he will demonstrate that what really constitutes Malay dress is the manner in which it amalgamated and adapted different fashion styles”.

Details
9 January 2020 at 10:00am
Activity Room, Indian Heritage Centre, 5 Campbell Lane, Singapore

Contact the Textile Enthusiasts Group for further details and to register.

 

Kain panjang with Broken Dagger motif. © Go Tik Swan

Saint Louis Art Museum has a new exhibition, curated by Philip Hu, showcasing a selection of batik textiles from the island of Java dating from the mid-19th to the late 20th century. They include They include pieces “made for royal and aristocratic clientele, ceremonial use, and everyday fabrics worn by men and women.”

The video below gives you some idea of just how much painstaking work is required to complete a piece of batik.

 

Batik of Java: A Centuries Old Tradition; Courtesy of Asian Art Museum, Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture

Details
13 December 2019 – 7 June 2020
Gallery 100, Saint Louis Art Museum, One Fine Arts Drive, Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri
Admission free

 

Detail of a Qarajeh rug. © Tschebull Antique Carpets.

Next month Raoul “Mike” Tschebull will give a talk at the Hajji Baba Club, New York, on his new book Qarajeh to Quba: Rugs and Flatweaves from East Azarbayjan and the Transcaucasus. “Qarajeh…… is a small, isolated community at the end of a gravel road in eastern Azarbayjan, in northwest Iran. Although some limited weaving still goes on there, this famous weaving village is best known for its striking 19th century kennereh on wool foundations and its beautifully coloured cotton-foundation export rugs and carpets which were woven beginning in about 1900.” Tschebull Antique Carpets website.

Front cover of the book.

The book is published by Hali and showcases 70 pile carpets and flatweaves from his own collection, the majority of which have never previously been published. The images are by the leading textile photographer Don Tuttle.

Details
Tuesday 21 January 2020
The Coffee House Club, Sixth Floor, 20 West 44th St, Manhattan, NY

Contact the Hajji Baba Club for further details.

Imperial dragon insignia roundel with a five-clawed dragon. © David Rosier

A reminder that a series of Arts Society study days will take place at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford from January to March. These are open to the public as well as members of the Arts Society and are likely to be very popular, hence the advance notice. Subjects include The Visual Art of Power and Rank at the Chinese Imperial Court (David Rosier) and Japanese History, Art and Culture (Suzanne Perrin). Click here for full details.

Finally I hope to see many of you at the Oxford Asian Textile Group AGM on Saturday 18 January at the Ashmolean Museum Education Centre. As usual the official business will be followed by the ever-popular Show and Tell session. Full details will be sent out to members via Eventbrite in January but in the meantime please make a note of the date!

 

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

 


 

Exhibition: Artistry in Silk – The Kimono of Itchiku Kubota

Exhibition dates 7 February – 13 May 2018

Artistry in Silk celebrates the work of Itchiku Kubota (1917–2003), an innovative artist whose spectacular creations gave new meaning to the art of kimono. He brought new life to a 16th -century decorative technique known as tsujigahana, a combination of resist-dyeing techniques and ink-drawing that was once thought lost forever. In his subsequent production of sumptuously beautiful kimono that featured ‘Itchiku tsujigahana,’ the artist’s adaptation of this art form expanded contemporary ideas of surface design and assured Kubota a legacy as an out-of-the-ordinary artist and artisan whose work stimulated the mind and delighted the eye.

The exhibition presents 41 kimono designed and produced by the artist over three decades, from 1976 to his death in 2003.

There are some stunning high-resolution images on the museum website which load very slowly – your patience will be rewarded!

For more information visit the website of the Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto.

 

Exhibition: Huicholes – A People Walking Towards the Light

Exhibition dates: 5 April – 4 September 2017

Huicholes – A People Walking Towards the Light showcases the art and lives of the Huicholes, an indigenous group from western Mexico whose history dates back 15,000 years. Featuring dazzling yarn paintings created using traditional techniques, the exhibition includes ceremonial objects, handmade textiles and photographs documenting a unique and threatened way of life.

This exhibition is on loan from Artes de México with the support of the Consulate General of Mexico and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, through the Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation.

For more information, visit the website of the Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto, Canada.

Exhibition: Kind Words Can Never Die

textile-museum-of-canada-kind-words-can-never-die

Exhibition dates: 22 February – 25 June 2017

Kind Words Can Never Die presents an extraordinary collection of Victorian needlework mottos stitched by anonymous women and girls in the mid to late nineteenth century. Mass produced by American wholesale companies, standardised sheets of perforated cardboard were printed with messages such as biblical quotes, song titles and popular maxims of the time that reflected the cultural and religious milieu of the North American evangelical Protestant middle class: ‘Do Right and Fear Not’; ‘What is Home Without a Mother?’; ‘Kind Words Can Never Die’. Women ordered the mottos from mail order catalogues, stitched them using a simple satin stitch and hung them in the home in specially designed motto frames.

With the rise of industrial manufacturing, men worked outside the home in growing numbers, setting established home and family structures into flux. Women increasingly took control of domestic space as consumers and moral influencers. Their decisions of which mottos to stitch and hang on the walls declared which of society’s ethical, cultural and religious edicts would guide the aesthetic and moral tone of the home. As objects of material culture, the mottos attest to the work women did to cultivate carefully chosen personal and social values in their families.

This particular collection of mottos was built by Jane Webster (1919–2009) from the mid to late twentieth century at her home in the Caribou Harbour area of Pictou, Nova Scotia. Family photos of the interior of the home taken in the 1940s show a few mottos on the wall ­— just enough to spark a collector’s passion in Jane, who had recently started spending time at the house. Jane purchased the mottos from farm auctions and received them as gifts, eventually amassing 173 examples that represent the vast majority of available motto texts. In Jane’s possession, the mottos were relieved of their purpose as edifying agents and re-contextualised as curious objects displayed in the spirit of generosity, welcoming and wit.

For more information, visit the website of the Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto.

Exhibition: Worlds on a String – Beads, Journeys, Inspirations

Textile Museum, Canada - Worlds on a String

Exhibition dates: 15 June – 23 October 2016

Universal materials of communication, ornamentation and ritual, glass beads offer extraordinary insight into worlds and world views – microcosms of meaning and symbolism. Cherished around the world, the shared passion for these luminous, kaleidoscopic treasures has sparked global trade, drawing ships across oceans. Media of exchange, currency, identity and status, their language offers unique insight into global trajectories of influence and innovation. Worlds on a String explores beads and beaded objects across time and cultures, a story of journeys and inspirations that speaks to how, through centuries, the bead has informed economic and political relationships, shaping cultural and creative imagination.

With a size that belies their potency, the wide-reaching distribution of glass beads was transformative – a compelling force of cultural impact and political influence. The earliest glass beads were produced in India in 200 BC, and exported to countries along major trade routes to Africa and Asia. From the sixteenth century onwards, beads manufactured in Europe made their way throughout the world, extending colonial relationships, complementing rather than replacing indigenous practices. As artists skillfully merged tradition with innovation, bead-making cultures flourished in response to this new form with a spectrum of visual brilliance and technical innovation that would ultimately influence Europe in return, from popular domestic crafts to haute couture.

Worlds on a String brings together stunning examples of vibrant beadwork from Africa, Asia, the Americas, Oceania and Europe, and explores the process through which beading practices have evolved, echoing and absorbing changing social and political circumstances as this popular new material inflected cultural perspectives and creative practices. The popularity of beads has never waned, their forms and meanings transforming constantly. Today artists continue to work in this compelling art form as a vehicle for creativity and self-expression, as well as strategies of cultural resistance and economic resilience. Worlds on a String includes work by contemporary artists from the Ubuhle community in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa as well as Canadian indigenous art – work that speaks to the significance of glass beads in the ongoing reimagination and reinvention of global traditions and social enterprise.

For more information, visit the website of the Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto, Canada.

Exhibition: Bliss – Gardens Real and Imagined

Textile Museum, Canada - Bliss, Gardens Real and Imagined

Exhibition dates: 4 May – 18 September 2016

From the legendary ‘winter carpets’ of Persian kings, embellished with spring blossoms of rubies and diamonds, to a simple quilt composed of floral fabrics, flower iconography has been a continuous element of textile design, bringing echoes of lush gardens indoors to transform interiors from grand palaces to modest homes. The very ubiquity of textiles and their universality provides a unique lens through which to explore the iteration of beauty in a single form – the flower – and the endless exploration of the abundance of nature by artists and artisans who have transformed its sensations in vast and varied colours, shapes and textures. Their visual language has persisted across nations and generations, imbuing everyday lives with inspiration and delight.

Drawing from the Textile Museum of Canada’s rich international collection, ‘Bliss’ encompasses a world of floral design, exploring the age-old theme of gardens, real and imagined, that has nurtured textile arts for centuries. Bringing together a variety of aesthetics, techniques and styles, the exhibition offers insight into cultural and historical nuances produced from a single design source – from Persian wall hangings and Ottoman rugs to European printed fabrics including iconic prints of the nineteenth-century English designer William Morris, Indonesian batiks, Central Asian embroideries and Japanese and Chinese garments. The work of three Canadian artists further extends the investigation of the garden’s symbolic power in the twenty-first century; Zachari Logan, Joanne Lyons and Amanda McCavour explore the concept of beauty and our relationship to nature in their mixed media work, resituating traditional imagery in a contemporary context.

For more information, visit the website of the Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto, Canada.