There are lots of exciting events happening in April – including many in-person rather than on Zoom. I’m therefore splitting them across two blogs.
A new exhibition opens at the Fashion and Textile Museum, London, this Friday 1 April 2022. It is entitled 150 Years of the Royal School of Needlework: Crown to Catwalk, and examines one of the UK’s oldest applied arts organisations.
“In 1872, the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) was founded on two key principles – the first, the preservation of hand embroidery as an art form and the second, the support of women’s independence through work” The exhibition “will explore this historic organisation’s contribution to the world of embroidery. The exhibition will present collaborations with the great names of the Arts and Crafts movement, commissions produced for the British royal family, contemporary works created for top, international designers and pieces by the RSN’s talented students.” – FTM website.
This exhibition runs until 4 September and you can book tickets here. An illustrated talk by the curators, discussing some of the key pieces will take place online on 1 April at 13:00 BST. Tickets cost £7.50 and can be booked by emailing the museum.
Excited to see that the World Textile Day team will be starting their events again this week. Their first venue is at East Horsley near Leatherhead, Surrey on Saturday 2 April 2022. Doors open at 10am and I would strongly advise you to get there early. The market place event is free, however there is a charge of £5 for entry to the talk, which is at 11am. The speaker this time will be Ian Rutherford and the topic Palestinian Dress & Costume. For more information on participating dealers and the venue please click here.
Nine dealers will be participating, including OATG members Chris and Angela Legge. Their exhibition is entitled Tribal Weavings: Bags, Rugs and Carpets from Iran and Central Asia. They will be showing original artefacts, woven by tribal and village women for use in their homes, tents and on migration, and as symbols of identity and status on important occasions such as weddings.
Their Oxford gallery will be open from 2 April through to 9 April, 9.30 am – 5 pm on weekdays and 11 am – 4 pm on the Sunday.
The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford is running one-day weaving workshops led by Susan Foulkes, the author of several books on band and braid weaving, on Friday 8 April and Saturday 9 April.
Participants will learn how to make a tubular filled cord using a weaving disc and a backstrap loom. These types of cords were previously used in Indonesia as lamp wicks, but their use has since died out. For more information and booking instructions please click here.
Saturday 9 April sees the World Textile Day team in the East of England at Mundford, near Thetford. Entry to the exhibition and market place is free, and there is a small charge for the talks. The main talk – From Java to West Africa: Travelling Textiles – is at 11am, followed by two short talks in the afternoon. Full details here.
Several years ago I was lucky enough to spend some time with Kikuo Morimoto at his Wisdom of the Forest project in Cambodia.
“In 1975 the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia and, in events often overlooked by a good portion of today’s world, proceeded to almost completely wipe out Cambodian culture, including textiles. Twill-woven weft ikat was an important part of that culture with textiles playing a major role in both every day and ritual life. With many of the weavers killed and the basics to create the fibers and dyes needed for weaving deliberately destroyed, there was a need for assistance to bring back the traditional means of producing ikat textiles. Kikuo Morimoto from Japan began the arduous task of finding the few women surviving who knew how to tie the designs and dye the colors using natural dyes.” – Jenny Spancake
Mr Morimoto wrote a memoir detailing his endeavours, which was published in 2008 under the title Bayon Moon. Sadly he passed away in 2017, but his work continues through the IKTT organisation and proceeds from this second expanded e-book edition of his memoir will help continue the work he started and to which he dedicated so much of his life.
It is available through iTunes and your local Amazon website – for example here in the UK and here in the USA.
Paul Hughes Fine Arts in Somerset currently has a fascinating exhibition entitled Continuities (ending 24 October 2021). Here you can see pre-Columbian textiles on show next to contemporary works in various mediums – textiles, painting, sculpture.
“All Art was Once Contemporary – Continuities is intended to illustrate how works from different periods and cultures are visually interwoven despite their diverse chronological and geographical background, whether it is an affinity in aesthetics or intentionality imbued within the living artist’s creations.” – PHFA website
There are some fabulous textiles illustrated in the online catalogue, but they will have to wait until I win the lottery.
As part of the British Textile Biennial 2021 there is a major new installation by Turner-prize winning artist Lubaina Himid at Gawthorpe Hall in Lancashire. The placing of this in the Great Barn is just perfect.
“Cascading through the structure of Gawthorpe Hall’s Great Barn, 400 metres of Dutch Wax fabric reflect the movement of oceans and rivers that have been used to transport cotton across the planet and over centuries. Waterways historically carried raw cotton, spun yarn, and woven textiles from continent to continent, as well as enslaved people from Africa to pick raw cotton in the southern states of America or workers who migrated from South Asia to operate looms here in East Lancashire.” – British Textile Biennial website.
Saturday 16 October is the East of England World Textile Day in Norfolk. The venue is at Mundford near Thetford. Traders confirmed so far are Textile Traders, the African Fabric Shop, Susan Briscoe Designs and OATG member and author of several textile tomes John Gillow. The event starts at 10:00 – get there early to browse through a great range of ethnic textiles!
On Saturday 16 October Geneviève Duggan will give a Zoom lecture about the ikat textiles of Savu in Eastern Indonesia for the Textile Arts Council in San Francisco. Geneviève gave a presentation to OATG members in March of this year, which was a great success. Sadly not long after that Savu was hit by cyclone Seroja and is still recovering from its effects.
Geneviève has been studying the textiles and material culture of this island for decades, spending long periods living with the weavers in their villages. I’ve met her there several times and her love for the place and its people is clear.
This talk will take place at 10:00 PDT, which is 18:00 BST. Click here to register.
The OATG event for October will be an online talk by OATG members Chris Buckley and Sandra Sardjono of the Tracing Patterns Foundation. The subject will be Fiber Arts from Papua.
“The Dani people of the Baliem Valley in Papua possess no looms, but fiber forms an essential part of their lives, so much so that the explorer Karl Heider called theirs a ‘culture of string’. “ – Tracing Patterns Foundation.
Tracing Patterns Foundation is currently cataloguing and conserving a huge number of Dani items, collected by the late Dr O W Hampton in the 1980s. Chris and Sandra will discuss how techniques such as plaiting and knotless netting were used to produce a wide variety of objects. “Large head-nets were important items of dress for women, as well as practical carrying containers. Some of the most interesting and unusual artifacts are stone tools and sacred objects, bound with fibres, feathers from birds of paradise, and other materials. “
This talk will take place at 18:30 BST on Thursday 21 October 2021. Members should have already received their invitations and hopefully registered. Registration is now also open for non-members for a small (£3) donation.This should be a fascinating talk so do join us!
On Friday 22 October Silk Road a newly renovated gallery is due to open at the Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena. It will feature a new exhibition entitled Crossroads: Exploring the Silk Road.
“Presented as a journey through Dunhuang, an ancient oasis connecting peoples and cultures, along the southern Silk Road route, this gallery engages an intergenerational audience through play and discovery. The sights and sounds of the ancient city come to life through stories and music, dress up, tactile objects, an interactive discovery map, and highlights from the museum’s collection. “ – USC Pacific Asia Museum.
On Saturday 23 October the Textile Museum will host another of its regular series of Rug and Textile Appreciation mornings. The speaker will be Vedat Karadag and the subject is Traveling the Textile Lands of Greater Anatolia, Persia, Central Asia and Beyond. For the past four decades Vedat has been involved with textiles, both as a dealer and leading cultural and textile-oriented trips. In this virtual talk Vedat will share some of the highlights of his textile travels. More information can be found here. Click on this link to register for this event which begins at 11:00 EDT, which is 16:00 BST.
The most recent edition of our Asian Textiles journal contained an article by Georges Breguet and Gaspard de Marval on Alfred Steinmann and the Ship Motif. This provided an excellent overview of the work of Steinmann, as well as a review of the current exhibition on the subject at the Ethnographic Museum of the University of Zurich.
On Sunday 24 October the Washington-based International Hajji Baba Society will host a programme on Steinmann’s research into the use of the ship motif in Indonesia.
“For many centuries, the people of southern Sumatra saw themselves as living on a ship floating between the sea and the heavens. This idea was woven into fascinating textiles featuring elaborate depictions of ships carrying humans and animal-like beings. These ship cloths were used in ceremonial and ritual contexts.
Alfred Steinmann, one of the former directors of the Ethnographic Museum of the University of Zurich, was one of the first scientists to study these textiles in depth and to try to interpret them. In several writings that appeared from 1937 to the 1960s, he examined the ship’s motif from a cultural and historical perspective, from the Bronze Age to the present day. He interpreted the elaborately patterned ship cloths as depictions of the passage of dead souls into a land of ancestors. Although later researchers added other layers of interpretation to Steinmann’s, to this day his contribution remains essential for understanding these textiles. “ – IHBS website.
This programme will involve not only a PowerPoint presentation by Paola von Wyss-Giacosa and Andreas Isler, but also a virtual guided tour of the Zurich exhibition – a real treat! Please note that spaces for this virtual event are limited and are filling fast so register now. A catalogue to accompany the exhibition is also now available (German text).
Finally, I recently enjoyed reading this article entitled Women Behind the Lens: The Middle East’s First Female Photographers by Tom Verde in AramcoWorld. It shows how women were involved in photography in the Middle East since the middle of the nineteenth century. Some worked behind the scenes, often in the family business, but others took a more prominent role, especially in the field of portraiture as women often felt more at ease sitting for another female.
A short blog to highlight some textile events taking place in the next couple of weeks – there is a lot on later in October so I will cover that in another blog.
Want to see one of the rarest textiles in the world? Oliver Hoare Limited in London currently has an exhibition (ending 22 October 2021) called The Natural World and the stand-out pieces are two shawls and a lamba made from golden spider silk from Madagascar. Only four pieces from this silk exist today.
“Estimates for the numbers of spiders necessary to produce silk are astonishing: a single ounce (28 grams) of golden spider silk requires 23,000 spiders. To produce the brocaded textile alone required drawing the silk from the spinnerets of over 1 million spiders.” – gallery website
You can learn a lot more about how these amazing textiles were produced, along with photographs of the different processes involved here.
On Thursday 30 September at 13:00-14:00 BST the Textile Society will be hosting a talk entitled Deception and Disguise: Smock Narratives. Alison Toplis will look at “the history of the English smock and how it developed in the 19th century as part of working-class clothing cultures and more specifically menswear. The smock has had a fascinating heritage and Alison will question assumptions about who wore smocks and discuss why they became popular as working attire as well as signifiers of individuality. Join us to hear more about a significant and understated part of English social and costume history.“ – Textile Society website.
Alison is the author of The Hidden History of the Smock Frock in which she traces how it was used in England and also in export markets such as Australia. It’s fascinating that something that was originally a man’s garment has now largely become part of the wardrobe of women and children.
On Saturday 2 October 2021 The Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, California will host an in-person talk by Mark A Johnson on the subject of The Unique Art Forms of the Kayanic People of Borneo. This event will also be available for online attendance. It will take place at 13:30-14:30 PDT, which is 21:30-22:30 BST. Registration is essential.
This talk will be based on Mark’s recently published book The Kayanic Tradition. Kayanic Dayak Art from Borneo. Volume 1: Guardian Sculptures. A preview of a few pages of the book is available here to whet your appetite.
Textiles will be available from the following specialists:-
African Fabric Shop
Susan Briscoe designs (Japanese)
The Running Stitches (vintage Kantha)
Slow Loris (Chinese tribal minorities)
Treasures from the Silk Road
On Wednesday 6 October at 18:00 BST our friends at ORTS (Oriental Rug & Textile Society) will host an online talk by Louise Teague on her collection of Lakai textiles. If you would like to attend please email Dimity Spiller.
Textiles will be available from the following specialists:-
African Fabric Shop
Susan Briscoe designs
Egyptian Tent Hangings from John & Joan Fisher
Helen Murchie (tweed)
Gaynor Williams (animal trappings)
And as if that’s not enough the Textile Society will be hosting their London Antique & Vintage Textile Fair in Chelsea on the following day, 10 October. I’ve never been to the London event, but have been to the Fair they hold in Manchester and it always has an interesting range of textiles.
I really enjoyed this blog by the Bowers Museum about Qing Dynasty Children’s Headwear. I was interested to learn that the hats above “functioned as masks to fool evil entities into thinking the child was an animal. Dogs, lions, tigers, and dragons were among the adorably rendered disguises donned by children to scare off even the most sinister spirits. “ – Bowers Museum website. Apparently wearing a hat with cat ears helped children to see evil spirits in the dark and escape from them!
Finally on Tuesday 12 October Elena Phipps will give an online talk on The Andean Textile Tradition of Four-Selvaged Cloth. “A textile with four complete, uncut woven edges, or selvages, is a rare thing in the world of weaving. And yet, it has been a tradition in the Andes for thousands of years. In this presentation, textile expert Elena Phipps will share how Andean cloth with four selvages is precisely planned and woven to a specific size and shape for its intended purpose. The weaver knows exactly what they want to make when the cloth is created. The results are textiles admired for their mastery of color, technique, and design.“ – ATA website
This will take place at 19:00 Eastern Time, which is midnight in the UK, so probably one for our many international members.
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 further down the blog.
The exhibition From Combat to Carpets, the Art of Afghan War Rugs at the Cotsen Gallery, Santa Fe International Folk Art Museum ends on Sunday. It is a travelling exhibition of forty examples, supplemented here by rugs from the museum’s own collection.
“This unique subset of handwoven rugs can teach us about the innovative nature of rug design and production, as well as the long history of foreign involvement in Afghanistan. Rug producers, provoked by decades of traders and invaders in the country, adapted traditional motifs and compositions, translating them into depictions of world maps, tourist sites, weapons, and military figures. Such war rugs have proven popular among occupying military personnel, journalists, foreign aid workers, international collectors, and contemporary art curators. Over the years, rug makers have continued to update popular imagery and themes to reflect current events, changing technologies, and the tastes of potential buyers.” – Museum website.
Through the wonders of modern technology you can visit this exhibition virtually and can also read more on this intriguing subject in this article by the exhibition’s co-curator Annmarie Sawkins.
The International Quilt Museum at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, is currently showing quilts in an exhibition entitled Diverse Traditions: South Asian Quilts. This exhibition will run until 7 October 2021.
“South Asia is rich in quiltmaking traditions. Women have made quilts in this region for centuries and have used them in a multitude of ways: as bed covers, seating mats, tent panels, and dowry items. Varying techniques, color palettes, and formats can be found among different ethnic and regional groups, and certain styles can help identify where a quilt likely was made. In this group of Indian and Pakistani quilts from the International Quilt Museum’s Education Collection, we look at how the techniques of appliqué, piecing, and quilting are used among diverse South Asian communities.” – Museum website.
Make sure you click on ‘Works in the Exhibition’ and then on the images to see the quilts in their full glory.
On Saturday 11 September 2021 the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford will host a day of events showcasing Palestinian embroidery and textiles. “Sessions include behind the scenes viewing of selected textiles, screenings of embroidery demonstrations with embroidery kits to take away, including a chart designed by American-born Palestinian artist, Wafa Ghnaim, and drop-in sessions to hear about the Palestinian History Tapestry and view pieces from the tapestry.” – Pitt Rivers Museum. In addition to the in-person events at the museum, there will also be online events for those outside of Oxford.
These events are free, but you do need to book both an event slot and a museum entry slot for the live events. For bookings and further details please click here.
Also taking place on 11 September is World Textile Day Scotland. Great traders who always have a wonderful selection of textiles for sale! For full details click here.
Textile lovers in the London area will be delighted to hear that the next Pop-Up in Pimlico takes place on Wednesday 15 September. This will feature textiles and jewellery from John Gillow, Martin Conlan (aka Slow Loris) and Barbie Campbell Cole, as well as a range of fine contemporary Indian clothing from Antonia Graham. The location is St James the Less Church Hall, Moreton Street, London SW1V 2PF, close to Pimlico tube station and set back from Westminster Bridge Road. Entry is free and this will run from 11:00-18:00.
15 September also sees the opening of a new exhibition at the Textile Museum of Canada in Toronto. And other monuments will run until 14 November 2021, and will be available both in-person and online. This is “an exhibition tracing the movement of the ‘Oriental rug’ and other orientalia in relation to colonial trade, imperial bordering, and power. The exhibition includes an interactive workbook, archival documents, Tatreez (Palestinian cross stitch) by textile artist Samar Hejazi, and an intervention of the British Museum by multidisciplinary artist Roya DelSol. Placed alongside West Asian and Middle Eastern rugs, carpet bags, and other pieces from the Textile Museum of Canada’s permanent collection, And other monumentsinvites a reading of textiles as maps or guides which are capable of tracing broader relationships to who moves, what moves, and how transnational, globalized mobilities of goods have always relied on ‘immobilizations’ of people.” – museum website.
“Contemporary Mexican textiles are among the finest in the Americas. Five centuries have passed since the Spanish Conquest, yet Mexico is still home to more than fifty Indigenous peoples. The arts of spinning, dyeing and weaving are practised in hundreds of rural communities, where distinctive clothing styles endure. Cloth is elaborately patterned and textured on the backstrap loom. After 1521, colonisation brought new materials, treadle-loom weaving, beadwork, and an increased emphasis on embroidery.” – ORTS website.
The talk will be live at the University Women’s Club in Mayfair, London and also streamed via Zoom. If you plan to go to the event or wish to attend via Zoom, please email Dimity Spiller to book a place.
On Thursday 23 September at 18:30 BST the OATG will be hosting a Show and Tell session – please note this is for OATG members only. One of the advantages of Zoom is that we can involve some of our many overseas members in this ever-popular event. Members should shortly receive an invitation with full details of this event. This is your chance to get involved, and we are really looking forward to seeing and hearing about a wide range of different textiles. The event will be ably hosted by Gavin Strachan, the editor of our Journal.
The Textile Society of America has several Affinity Groups who meet online to discuss topics of interest. You don’t have to be a TSA member to attend one of these meetings. The Historic and Ancient Textiles group “brings together people engaged in research on heritage textiles, including those recovered archaeologically, held in the collection of a community, university or museum.” – TSA
The next meeting will be on Saturday 25 September at 12:00 EDT, which is 17:00 BST. The presenters will be Amanda Phillips, whose subject is Ottoman textiles, and Christine Martens, who will discuss Uighur Felt making. Saturday 25 September is a busy day for textile lovers. For more information and to join this online event please email Lee Talbot.
Also taking place on 25 September is the opening of a new exhibition at the Penn Museum, Philadelphia, entitled The Stories We Wear. “The clothing, accessories, and decorations we put on our bodies tell stories about who we are. They shape how others see us and how we see ourselves. What we wear can prepare us for important events or transform us into someone new. It may follow tradition or a recent trend. And it can show that we belong or help us stand out. Now and in the ancient past, close to home and far away, the stories we wear connect us. Showcasing 2,500 years of style and adornment through approximately 250 remarkable objects, The Stories We Wear reveals how clothing and accessories offer powerful expressions of identity—examining the purpose and meaning behind what we wear.” – Penn Museum.
On the same day the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California will host a talk by Dr Anne Tiballi of the Penn Museum entitled Threads and Themes of The Stories We Wear. Dr Tiballi was a consultant for the exhibition and in this talk she will “dig deep into several of the exhibitions ‘outfits’, making connections between the technological skill, creativity, and cultural significance of the peoples who made and wore them. ….. the items she will discuss include a Pre-Columbian Andean warp-patterned tunic, headband, and bag; a Qing Dynasty Chinese court costume; and early 20th century coconut fibre armour from Kiribati, a Mongolian silk deel and boots, and a Hopi wedding dress.” – TMASC
This free talk begins at 10:00 PDT, which is 18:00 BST. Please click here to register.
Now for something rather unexpected from the Musée Mohammed VI d’Art Moderne et Contemporain in Rabat, Morocco. As the name of the museum suggests, the permanent exhibition focuses on modern and contemporary art. However, the temporary exhibitions cover a wide range of subjects. At the moment it highlights the French painter Eugène Delacroix, particularly his travels in Morocco in 1832. An interesting article about his life and travels appeared in Siente Marruecos Magazine. Delacroix collected many objects, including textiles, which he used in his paintings on his return to France. The exhibition cleverly shows some of his sketches, the types of items that appear in them (textiles, ceramics, leather goods) and the finished paintings.
The exhibition opened in July and runs until 9 October 2021.
Maryhill Museum in Goldendale, WA, is currently holding a special exhibition entitled A Particular Beauty: Romanian Folk Clothing. This will run until 15 November 2021. “When she was Romania’s crown princess (1893–1914), Marie of Edinburgh (later Queen Marie of Romania) began wearing peasant-inspired clothing from the country’s eastern provinces — a fashion trend long promoted by Elisabeth of Wied, Queen of Romania, and her court. A Particular Beauty draws from Maryhill’s collection of more than 450 items of Romanian clothing and textiles. The display will include about 20 fully dressed mannequins, and numerous individual garments such as coats, vests, shirts and blouses.The exhibition will showcase a remarkable variety of Romanian embroidery techniques, mediums, and styles that have evolved through the influences of adjacent ethnic populations, resident invaders, other outsiders, and – in recent decades – urbanization.” – museum website.
There are some really fabulous textiles in this short video. If you cannot see it, please click on the blue title at the top of this blog and view this through our WordPress site.
Finally, next month sees the publication by Prestel of a book every collector of Indonesian textiles is sure to want on their bookshelves. “Gathered over the course of four decades, the Thomas Murray collection of Indonesian textiles is one of the most important in the world…….Geographically arranged, this volume pays particular attention to textiles from the Batak and the Lampung region of Sumatra, the Dayak of Borneo, and the Toraja of Sulawesi, as well as rare textiles from Sumba, Timor and other islands. Readers will learn about the intricate traditions of dyeing, weaving, and beading techniques that have been practiced for centuries.” – Prestel. There are contributions from many leading scholars, including no less than three OATG members. UK members even get the chance to buy this book first, as due to the weight it has to be shipped by sea to the US.
First a reminder that this Thursday, 26 August 2021, the OATG will host a talk by Dr Dorothy Armstrong, the new May Beattie Visiting Fellow in Carpet Studies at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. The talk is entitled Mrs Beattie and Mr Getty: A Carpet Controversy.
In 1969, May Beattie, a British carpet scholar with no academic affiliation, working from her home in Sheffield, was invited by John Paul Getty, one of the world’s richest men, to catalogue his growing collection of carpets. In the following months, the two strong personalities went head-to-head over their provenance. This quarrel had a direct effect on the collecting practices of what became the world’s richest arts institution, The Getty Foundation, and has left open questions about a set of Persian and Indo-Persian carpets. It’s a revealing episode of the interaction of scholarly challenge and market practices around a set of beautiful and luxurious carpets. Dr Armstrong will talk about some of the difficulties faced in answering the questions posed in the slide below, and the particular line that May Beattie took regarding John Paul Getty’s carpet.
This talk begins at 1830 BST and is free for OATG members, and just £3 for non-members. Click here to register for the few remaining place.
On Thursday 2 September 2021 the Fashion and Textile Museum will have another online event related to their current Chintz: Cotton in Bloom exhibition. Their Collections Officer, Gill Cochrane, will “share the secrets hidden within these garments and explore how chintz was used – and re-used – in garment construction in 18th and early 19th centuries. This is a unique opportunity to learn what happens ‘behind the seams’ of a costume exhibition and discover some of the most beautiful fabrics and well-constructed garments of the period.” – FTM.
The talk starts at 18:00 BST and costs just £5. Please click here for more details and to register.
On Saturday 4 September 2021 at 16:00 BST there will be a live online talk by Michael Franses, on carpets from the Orient Stars Collection. This talk is hosted by the Textile Museum, in association with the New England Rug Society and the New York-based Hajji Baba Club. You are strongly advised to watch this very professionally produced one hour video, introducing some of these pieces set out as a virtual exhibition, before attending the online talk. There will be a Q andA session after the talk. For further details and registration please click here.
Also taking place on 4 September 2021 is World Textile Day Wales, which I highlighted in my previous blog. Here is the list of traders:-
Magie and Bob of The African Fabric Shop with fabrics, baskets and beads from all over Africa. Diane and Jim of Textile Traders with batik, ikat, indigo and hemp fabrics, silver hilltribe jewellery and clothes. Susan and Glyn from Susan Briscoe Designs with a huge selection of sashiko, boro and kimono fabrics from Japan. Bronwen of Fabazaar with textiles and clothes from India and Nepal. Tanya of The Running Stitches with kantha work blankets, throws, scarves and jackets from Northern India. Finally, internationally famous but local to Llani – hand knitter Sasha Kagan will be there with her knitting designs and finished pieces.
On 11 September 2021 the World Textile Day team move up to the Bridge of Allan in Scotland for their next event. This will run from 10:00 until 16:00 – but be sure to get there early to get the best selection!
The Zay Initiative aims to “promote an understanding of regional culture, and preserve, collect, document, and conserve Arab historic dress and adornment”. One of the ways they are doing this is through a series of talks called Dialogue on the Art of Arab Fashion. The next in this series takes place on Tuesday 7 September 2021 at 17:00 BST. The Founder of the Zay Initiative, Dr Reem El Mutwali will be in conversation with Shila Desai of EYHO Tours, looking at the tie-dyed head coverings worn by women in Kutch, India. “In the traditional societies of Kutch, tie-dyed head coverings play an important role in every aspect of a woman’s life. They provide protection from the elements, create identity, signify status, express joy or sorrow, and denote inter-religious relations. Over many generations, Kutchi Muslim and Hindu communities have shared a common culture in this harsh desert land and regularly interact with each other. By looking at the ubiquitous odhani, or head covering, this conversation will shed new light on both the intra- and inter-social relationships in these distinct communities. ” – Zay Initiative.
You can register for this event here. Registration will also give you access to a recorded version of this event, so you can watch it at your leisure.
Advance notice of a major new exhibition! September 28th sees the opening of an exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge entitled Gold of the Great Steppe. The exhibition will run until 30 January 2022.
The Saka culture of Central Asia, flourished 2,500 years ago. This exhibition will present artefacts from the extraordinary burial mounds (kurgans) of the Saka people of East Kazakhstan. Several hundred gold items will be on display, including jewellery and horse harness decorations. What does this have to do with textiles you may ask? Special items of clothing were sometimes decorated with small gold embossed plaques, some of which will be on display.
A catalogue to accompany the exhibition will be published by Casemate and is now available to pre-order. It is edited by the exhibition curator Rebecca Roberts and includes contributions by experts from Kazakhstan and Cambridge.
Next a reminder of the online talk at the Royal Ontario Museum next week.
On Wednesday 18th August 2021 the Royal Ontario Museum will host a free Zoom programme linked to their current exhibition on chintz, the Cloth that Changed the World. Rosemary Crill, a long-time supporter of the OATG, will examine an important group of seventeenth century South Indian textiles. “These previously unknown, extraordinary kalamkari masterworks depict scenes from palace life, with a Hindu ruler and ladies in a palace setting and in procession with his army. This talk will place these panels in the context of other known kalamkari hangings and the elaborate decoration of the textiles and architectural settings will be discussed, as well as the probable patron and place of production.” – ROM website. This talk begins at noon EDT, which is 1700 BST and you can register for it here.
Finally on Thursday 26th August 2021 we have the next OATG talk. Our speaker will be Dr Dorothy Armstrong, May Beattie Visiting Fellow in Carpet Studies at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. The title of the talk is Mrs Beattie and Mr Getty: a carpet controversy.
In 1969, May Beattie, a British carpet scholar with no academic affiliation, working from her home in Sheffield, was invited by John Paul Getty, one of the world’s richest men, to catalogue his growing collection of carpets. In the following months, the two strong personalities went head-to-head over their provenance. This quarrel had a direct effect on the collecting practices of what became the world’s richest arts institution, The Getty Foundation, and has left open questions about a set of Persian and Indo-Persian carpets. It’s a revealing episode of the interaction of scholarly challenge and market practices around a set of beautiful and luxurious carpets.
This talk begins at 1830 BST and is free for OATG members, who should have already received their invitation but still need to register. Registration (£3) for non-members is NOW OPEN. Be sure to note this in your diary as it is certainly going to be a popular talk.”
“The Beattie Archive was established at the Ashmolean Museum in June 2000, thanks to May Beattie’s generous bequest and vision for the creation of a centre devoted to the study of carpets. Her legacy comprises her specialized library of more than 1400 books, and her collection of carpets and weavings – more than 100 items dating from the 19th and 20th century. These are not for display, but were meant by Beattie to be for hands-on study at the Museum.
The unique significance of the archive, however, lies in the detailed documentation of carpets that May Beattie compiled during the course of her life. Based on her own physical examination, Beattie’s notes (about 55 volumes) record the results of her meticulous analysis of carpets – many of which are no longer available for study – in public and private collections throughout the world. About 15,000 analysis sheets detailing the structure of pieces she was able to access are now housed in the Department of Eastern Art, constituting an unrivalled resource for scholars in the field. Numerous files of articles, correspondence, and journals complete this part of the archive.” – Ashmolean, Eastern Art Online.
In 2015 we published a mini-series of blogs, written by Katherine Clough, former Beattie Archive Assistant, which I have found fascinating. They really give you an understanding of the woman herself and some of the challenges that she faced. “A bacteriologist by training with a PhD from Edinburgh, Beattie is widely recognized for the scientific approach she brought to the study of carpets reflected in her use of analysis sheets.” – Katherine Clough. In these blogs we learn of some of the difficulties she and her husband Colin faced travelling in pursuit of carpets, as well as the problems of photographing them in far from ideal conditions – highly recommended reading!
The next World Textile Day event will take place in Wales on 4th September 2021 from 10am to 4pm. The venue will be the Minerva Arts Centre at Llanidloes. Full details, including a map, are given here. These are always great events, with a good selection of ethnic textiles available from knowledgeable dealers – don’t miss out!
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A new exhibition has just opened at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London and will run until 26 June 2021. Opium, Silk and the Missionaries in China retells one of the largely forgotten histories between Britain and China in the nineteenth century.
“Drawing on several collections using artefacts to explore the history of the Opium Wars through botanical arts and tools; historical artefacts about silk; missionary work and intercultural shared experiences in China recorded by British Missionaries throughout this period. ” – Gallery website.
On Tuesday 25 May 2021 the London-based Oriental Rug and Textile Society will host an online talk by OATG member Maria Wronska-Friend of James Cook University, Queensland. Her subject will be From Sarong to Sari: Rabindranath Tagore’s fascination with the batik of Java. In 1927 Tagore developed an interest in Javanese batik, collecting several dozen examples. On his return to West Bengal “he supported the introduction of the batik technique into the curriculum of the local art school. The new technique has been embraced in Santiniketan with great enthusiasm and resulted in the production of thousands of stunning saris, stoles, fitted garments and decorative fabrics.” – ORTS website. For more details of this talk which begins at 18:00 BST click here.
On Tuesday 2 June 2021 Richard Wilding will give a talk to the Royal Society for Asian Affairs on the Traditional Costumes and Culture of Saudi Arabia. He, along with Hamida Alireza, is co-editor of a recently published book with the same title. “The Mansoojat Foundation is a UK-registered charity founded by Saudi women. The charity is dedicated to the preservation of ethnic Arabian costumes. They conduct research that is vital to our knowledge of the region’s history and culture, and make Arabian heritage accessible to the public. Their workshop in Jeddah offers employment to women with hearing and speech impediments.” – Publisher’s website. Click here to see a sample of several pages from the book.
The webinar will look at how the “costumes and jewellery of Saudi Arabia reveal a great diversity of regional and tribal identities, reflecting the Kingdom’s contrasting urban and rural, settled and nomadic, desert and mountain environments. The Arabian Peninsula sits at the centre of ancient pilgrimage and trade routes, and this has resulted in centuries of influence from textiles, beads and jewellery passing through the region.” It takes place at 14:00 BST and is free, but you do need to register for it.
Another event taking place on 2 June 2021 is the annual Pauline and Joseph Degenfelder Distinguished Lecture in Chinese Art. This is held by the Cleveland Museum of Art and the speaker this year will be Zhao Feng. His subject will be Chinese Textiles from the Silk Road.
“For centuries, the Silk Road has been an important network of trade routes that has allowed for the exchange of silk and other goods, as well as of ideas and technologies between cultures across Asia and Europe.
Zhao Feng, director of the China National Silk Museum in Hangzhou, presents recently excavated and conserved silk textiles from sites along the Silk Road. He shares new insight on fibers, dyes, weave structures, tailoring, and pattern designs featured in these textiles and discusses international collaborative initiatives, such as the Interactive Silk Map of the World and the Silk Road Online Museum.” – Cleveland Museum of Art website. The lecture is at 19:00 EDT, which sadly is midnight in the UK, so this is one for the night owls. Register here for this free event.
Another annual lecture will take place on Saturday 5 June 2021 – this time hosted by the Textile Arts Council. The speaker for this year’s Sinton Lecture will be Kana Taira and her subject is Ryukyu Bashofu: Banana Fiber Textiles of Okinawa.
“Bashofu cloth is made from the bast fibers of the Okinawan ito-basho, a variety of banana tree. For centuries this weaving tradition thrived among people of all walks of life on the Okinawan islands. But after World War II, with changes in lifestyle, Bashofu nearly died out. However, in the village of Kijoka, Ogimi, noted for its Bashofu production from before the war, local women led by weaver Toshiko Taira put their passion and dedication into reviving this unique Okinawan weaving tradition. Working together, they established the Kijoka Bashofu Kumiai.(Kijoka Bashofu Association), whose goals were to both revitalize the traditional techniques and to train new generations of weavers. Today the Association produces the renown bashofu kimono and other textile products and trains weavers who come from all over Japan to study there.” – TAC website. Kana Taira is a granddaughter of Toshiko Taira. This online event takes place at 15:00 PDT, which is 22:00 BST. There is s small charge for non-members and you can register via this link.
As is often the case when compiling information for this blog I got sidetracked and started to look for more information on this fascinating subject. I found this article by Noriko Nii on the Visit Okinawa site a useful starting point. I was amazed to learn that it takes the fibres from around two hundred trees to weave the cloth for one kimono! On the website of the Bashofu Hall I discovered some of the other ways the plant is utilised. “The surface fiber has long been used in the production of banana paper, which has recently enjoyed a surge of use for bouquets, bookmarks, papercraft, and more. The outer husk of the fiber, which is unsuitable for yarn, is called shīsāū and is an essential part of the lion masks used in the traditional lion dance performed throughout Okinawa. The fiber is used to create strands of hair to adorn the lion heads, so it is ordered in large quantities each year. The plant is also burned to create a charcoal that is used as a glaze for earthenware, among other uses. “
I would also highly recommend taking a look at this online exhibition on these textiles and the way they are produced. It was created by Ikeda Yuuka and Ueyama Emiko of the Kyoto Women’s University and has some stunning images to complement the text.
Next to a textile event which is taking place in real life – not on a screen! Many of you will be familiar with the World Textile Days which take place at various UK locations throughout the year. The pandemic put a stop to those for some time, but they are restarting next month. The first will be on Saturday 5 June 2021 from 10:00 – 16:00 in Frodsham, Cheshire. Due to Covid restrictions there will not be a talk at this event, nor any catering. However visitors are welcome to take their own food and drink and there will be space provided to consume it. These are always really fun events, with textiles available from a range of traders, including The African Fabric Shop, Textile Traders, Susan Briscoe, The Running Stitches, Fabazaar and Experience Ukraine. Full details here.
OATG members David and Sue Richardson have just added a new section to their Asian Textile Studies website, this time looking at Cambodian kiet textiles. The article looks at historical examples of Cham clothing and various resist-dyeing techniques before examining different types of Cham kiet – from the very simple to the complex.
In my most recent blog I wrote about the Epic Iran exhibition which opens at the V&A in London on 29 May 2021. I explained that Sarah Piram, Curator of the Iranian collections at the V & A, will give an online talk to the OATG next month. This talk will give an overview of some major works, from early silk fragments showing roundels of animals, to Safavid carpets and contemporary craft tradition. Textiles and carpets will be showcased in different parts of the exhibition, and I’m sure one of the highlights will be the ‘Sanguszko’ carpet belonging to the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry – one of the greatest seventeenth century Persian carpets in private hands. This talk will take place on 10 June at 18:30 BST. OATG members should already have received their invitations, and registration is now also open non-members through this link.
Unfortunately I have only just found out about this exhibition which opened at the Kunsthalle, Helsinki in February and ends this Sunday 23 May 2021. “The exhibition Woven Beauty – Four centuries of Finnish ryijy textiles presents a wide and diverse selection of ryijys that shows their richness as well as their many shapes, textures and patterns that have changed over time. The ryijy has seen many colourful phases in its history and recent times, always returning in new forms to carry on its lively tradition for new generations. Kunsthalle Helsinki will exhibit ryijys from over 300 years. The selection of around 130 ryijys includes traditional types from the 18th and 19th centuries such as bridal and tree of life motifs, modern artistic ryijys from the 1960s, as well as new ryijys from recent years that exemplify a diversity of materials.” – museum website.
Thankfully there is a short video which enables us to see some of the ryijys on show and learn a little more about them. The presentation is in English.
There are so many great textile events coming up that I have had to split them across two blogs – part two coming soon…….
Some of the World Textile Day team, with OATG member John Gillow wearing a very fetching outfit!
Event date: Saturday 1 June 2019 10:00 – 16:30.
The theme for the 2019 World Textile Days is Inspired to Create – and you can’t get more creative than their special guest, Batik Guild member Heather Koumi. Heather was introduced to the art of batik forty years ago but says “I still get excited when a piece of work sings out its colours, as it is revealed when I slowly remove all the wax.”
“Blue Moon” by Heather Koumi
FREE admission to an exhibition of woven, printed and embroidered textiles.
FAIR TRADE MARKET from makers, workshops and villages around the world
11 am PRESENTATION. Heather Koumi – award-winning batik artist. Letting Go in Java.
2 pm A short talk by one of the textile experts and the chance to WEAR AND TELL!
£3 per session or £5 for both, tickets at the door
Specialist world textiles traders
For more information on this event at King’s Sutton near Banbury visit the World Textile Day website.
Tomorrow evening Roger Pratt, a Trustee of The Textile Museum, will give a talk on Selected Hats from the Silk Road as part of the Hajji Baba Club of New York’s ongoing programme. Roger will show and discuss some of the hats from his collection which featured in the exhibition held at the Corcoran Museum last June as part of the International Conference on Oriental Carpets XIV. These will include Turkmen Hats; Turkmen Tekke Hats; Central Asian Non-Turkmen Hats; Persian Conical Dervish Hats; Central Asian Longtail Hats; Inscribed Religious Hats; and Ottoman Syrian Aleppo Hats.
Location: The Coffee House Club, 20 West 44th St (bet 5th & 6th Ave), 6th Floor, New York NY 10036
Doors open 6:00pm for cocktails, meeting starts at 6:30pm
This event is also open to non-members for a fee. For more information visit the website of the Hajji Baba Club. For those who cannot make it to this talk R. John Howe has given a wonderful overview of the exhibition, along with lots of excellent images on his Eccentric Wefts site here.
On Wednesday 20 March Mary Spyrou will talk to members of the London-based Oriental Rug and Textile Society (ORTS) on the subject of Cypriot textiles – techniques, materials, patterns, uses and the importance of dowry textiles.
This talk will encompass the wide variety of Cypriot textile traditions, which include weaving, embroidery and lace making – now listed under the UNESCO Intangible cultural heritage of Cyprus. The ORTS website points out :- “Cyprus is located in the eastern corner of the Mediterranean sea, at the cross roads where the west meets the east, settled, conquered and occupied by many civilisations, including Byzantines, Venetians and Ottomans, all of whom have had an influence on the development of the artistic heritage of Cyprus.
The raw materials used – silk, cotton,wool, flax and linen ; the designs and patterns inspired by nature, and the many items made, including garments and domestic furnishings, for example, and especially their role and importance as dowry textiles, part of a rich Folk art tradition which experienced a decline from around the middle of the 20th century will be the main focus of the talk.”
Location: St James Piccadilly Conference Room, 197 Piccadilly, London W1J 9LL
Non-members welcome for a fee. For more details visit the ORTS website.
This Thursday Karen Horton, Independent Textile and Ethnographic Conservator, will give a talk to Oxford Asian Textile Group members on the subject of Lifting the Veil: The Conservation and Mounting of Thangkas at the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin. The talk will focus on the conservation of the Tibetan thangkas textile mounts and the minimal intervention policy that the Chester Beatty Library adheres too. She will discuss the methods and materials used, the ethical implication of conserving sacred textiles and the non-invasive mounting method she designed and developed with her colleagues at the library to install the thangkas allowing them to be displayed with their veils pleated as they would have hung in their Himalayan temple setting.
The Chester Beatty Library Dublin, is an art museum and library that houses the world-class collection of East Asian, European and Islamic art assembled by the great philanthropist and collector Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968). The Tibetan collection, which is mainly Buddhist, includes Tibetan sacred texts, ritual objects and forty-eight predominantly nineteenth century thangka’s of which 26 retain their textile mounts.
Karen is currently conserving and researching a group of Ming Dynasty textiles in Xi’an China where she works each year. She is studying for her Ph.D. and her research topic is Tibetan/Chinese Embroidered and Woven Thangka’s and Buddhist Textiles, Collections, Provenance and the Art Maker 1400 to present.
Location: The Pauling Centre, 58a Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6QS.
Time: 6.00 p.m. (for a 6.15 p.m. start) – 8 p.m.
Non-members welcome for a small fee. Visit the OATG website for more details.
This short video by the Asia Society of New York has some wonderful black and white images of thangkas in use in monasteries. Adriana Proser, the John H. Foster Senior Curator for Traditional Asian Art, also gives an insight into several richly coloured thangkas which formed part of an exhibition called Unknown Tibet: The Tucci Expeditions and Buddhist Painting, which she co-curated with Deborah Klimburg-Salter.
Thangkas have been produced since at least the 14th century and are still being produced today. Some are made from small pieces of fabric and others are painted. This article in the magazine of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife & Cultural Heritage discusses modern thangka production, contrasting the work of dedicated painters who use traditional mineral pigments and have studied the relevant techniques for many years, with thangkas which are mass-produced by companies in factories by printing images on canvas with acrylic paint.
The article includes an excellent video produced by Dawa Drolma which shows all of the steps taken in producing a thangka, beginning with making the actual canvas on which the image will be painted. The painters describe the three different styles of thangka painting and it is a joy to watch them producing these paintings right down to the final gilding.
Kristine Kamiya, a textile conservator at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, has written a great blog on restoring a particular appliquéd textile thangka. After careful examination with a microscope they discovered that it was made up of lots of different textiles which may even have spanned the duration of the Ching dynasty. The enlarged images showing the use of horsehair to give an extra dimension to the cloth are fascinating.
Saturday 23 March sees two events, luckily in different parts of the globe. World Textile Day Wales, the first World Textile Day of 2019, will take place in Llanidloes. This will include an exhibition of world textiles, a presentation by Jacqui Carey (Japanese kumihimo expert), a demonstration by Liz Beasley (expert in Chilean dyeing and weaving), a braiding demonstration by the Braid Society and much, much more.
For full details visit the World Textile Day website.
The second event is a talk to the Thai Textile Society in Bangkok by Thweep Rittinaphakorn (known as Ake), on the subject of Export Chintz – The Flagship Indian Trade Cloths. Akeis the curator of the Siam Society textiles collection and an avid textile scholar.
“India has clothed the world for centuries. Its rich textile heritage has left imprints on and influenced textiles artistic sense and production worldwide. Among all textiles exported from India to other lands, “Chintz” (fine cotton fabric with hand-drawn motifs and details) were the most prized items. Known locally by the technical term of “Kalamkari”, the type produced for export has distinctive characteristics and held high virtue in various ways from its complex production technique, perplexing range of colours, and vast design customisation for different markets they were intended for. Although in Thailand Indian Chintz has been known to Thai textiles collectors and enthusiasts for years, it was rather limited to only those that were made for the Siamese court. Little is known about the Chintz produced for other markets, both in Southeast Asia as well as in Europe. This talk intends to provide a glimpse of examples of Chintz produced by the Indians for other markets, to provide a basic understanding in the differences from design aspect to usage context.” – Thai Textile Society website.
Location: Bandara Suites Silom, 4th floor conference room, first building 75/1 Soi Saladaeng 1, Bangkok
For further information on this talk, which is also open to non-members, please visit the website of the Thai Textile Society.
When the World Textile Day experts held their first event in Saltford in 2014, they had no idea what a great venue they had found. Their hosts – the Saltford Community Association – couldn’t be more enthusiastic. As a bonus, Saltford prides itself in being a ‘fair trade village’ – a perfect fit for their fair trade ethos. The featured speaker at this final World Textile Day of 2018 will be Bob Irwin, an expert in African beads.
FREE admission to an exhibition of woven, printed and embroidered textiles.
FAIR TRADE MARKET from makers, workshops and villages around the world
11 am PRESENTATION. Bob Irwin – author, collector, textile and bead trader. Beauty and the Bead: Community Bead Making in West Africa.
2 pm A FAVOURITE TEXTILE. The experts discuss one of their most treasured textiles. Plus: a short talk.
£3 per session or £5 for both, tickets at the door
Specialist world textiles traders
For more information on this event at Saltford near Bristol visit the World Textile Day website.