Exhibition: Katagami – The Craft of the Japanese Stencil

Exhibition dates: 11 April – 7 December 2017

This exhibition celebrates one of the ULITA archive’s major collections – ‘katagami’, Japanese resist dyeing stencils, which form a prominent part of ULITA’s Japanese collection. Through drilling, punching and cutting, a great variety of detailed and intricate designs were cut into mulberry paper. These stencils were used for dyeing designs onto clothing ranging from everyday workers’ garments to the finest silk kimonos.

This exhibition introduces the techniques of making and using the katagami, and explores the imagery used. Although produced simply as tools, in recent years, the katagami themselves have come to be appreciated as remarkable and beautiful objects in their own right. The designs on the stencils amount to more than decoration. Whether it be evoking a season, carrying wishes for longevity and good fortune or containing an entire folk story, every katagami has a story to tell about the fashion and culture of Japan at the time of its creation and use.

Katagami – The Craft of the Japanese Stencil features forty katagami, including stencils lent by the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture (MoDa),which informed the work of the British textile company the Silver Studio, whilst stencil-dyed clothing lent by Leeds Museums and Galleries shows the finishing effects. The exhibition has been realised with the support of MoDa as part of their Arts Council-funded project Katagami in Practice. The exhibition is written and curated by guest Curator Dr Alice Humphrey, who has worked with the katagami collections in both ULITA and MoDa.

For more information, visit the website of ULITA (University of Leeds International Textile Archive).

Exhibition: The Synthetics Revolution – Man-made Fibres and Everyday Fashion

ULITA - Synthetics Revolution

Exhibition dates: 22 June – 21 July and 4 October – 1 December 2016 (open August/September by appointment)

The rise of man-made and synthetic fibres has placed ‘miracle’ materials at the heart of the modern fashion system. Today, these high-performance test-tube materials are found in clothing, furnishings and household goods. From the mid-twentieth century, firms such the DuPont Company, ICI and Courtaulds revolutionised people’s relationships with fibres by making and promoting a family of man-made and synthetic fibres, including rayon, nylon, polyester and acrylic.  As the world’s largest fibre manufacturer, DuPont publicised one new material, acrylic, as a ‘better fibre by design than a sheep produces inadvertently’.

The Enterprise of Culture project (School of History, Leeds) has teamed up with ULITA (University of Leeds International Textiles Archive) and the Yorkshire Fashion Archive (School of Design) to look behind the scenes of the synthetics revolution with the aim of bringing the story of man-made fibres and how we interact with them to life.

Drawing on these two university archive collections, the exhibition delves into how the introduction of synthetic fibres into a predominantly woollen manufacturing area, Yorkshire, had an impact on the lives of its inhabitants and changed the face of the textile industry in the region. Synthetic fibres were a global phenomenon, but many technical innovations originated in Yorkshire. A programme of events will investigate the experiences of people in Yorkshire as they came to know the new wonder fibres and their love/hate relationship with them.

This exhibition particularly promotes ULITA items from the Fibre Collection and Department of Textiles Industries Collection, including items only recently discovered.

For more information, visit the website of ULITA (University of Leeds International Textiles Archive).

Exhibition: Indian Embroidery

ULITA - Indian Embroidery

Exhibition dates: open by appointment in January and February 2016

This exhibition focuses exclusively for the first time on the Indian collection, one of ULITA’s major – and particularly colourful – world collections.

Illustrating the variety and quality of workmanship found in Indian embroidery, the exhibition explores the techniques of whitework, quilting, counted stitch, chain stitch, mirror work, metal thread work and appliqué. Also highlighted are a variety of artifacts on which embroidery may be found, from puppets to slippers, hats to tent covers.

The text associated with the exhibition draws from the publications of Professor Anne Morrell (Consultant at the Calico Museum of Textiles, Ahmedabad), who has used the collections for her research.

The stimulus for this exhibition arises directly from recent ULITA accessions which have included exquisite examples of highly embroidered phulkari, torans and covers.

For more information, visit the website of the University of Leeds International Textile Archive (ULITA), Leeds.