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.

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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.