TRC Blog: Textile Moments

Textiles in Venice

Italian, 18th century embroidered waistcoat, from the Palazzo Mocenigo, Venice.

Italian, 18th century embroidered waistcoat, from the Palazzo Mocenigo, Venice.

Venice has been a centre for making and trading textiles for centuries. There are two definite places to see for textiles lovers. Palazzo Mocenigo, housed in a 17th century palace, is home to the Centre for Textile and Costume Studies. Most of the displays involve the restored palace itself and its rich furnishings, but there are many beautiful textiles in nearly every room. These include numerous 18th century Venetian velvets and brocades, and some rarer 13th and 14th century fabrics.

The palazzo also has many examples of textiles that can sometimes be overlooked: male clothing. You can see the 18th century black wool or red damask robes of public officials, and a whole room devoted to waistcoats. Fifty-six waistcoats, mostly from the late 18th century, are on display.

Today’s waistcoat evolved from a knee length, completely buttoned from the front, jacket that was worn underneath a coat for extra warmth. The front was usually of some costly material, such as silk, while the back was made from less expensive cotton or linen. In the 18th century this jacket grew shorter, until it reached just below the waist. By the end of the century it had lost its sleeves. Most of the waistcoats on display are silk, often beautifully embroidered, sometimes with gold or silver thread.

In 2014 the Centre joined Google’s #WeWearCulture project. This project showcases the museum’s work and can be seen at https://artsandculture.google.com/project/fashion 

Reaching the next textile highlight involves a ferry ride to Burano, an island in Venice’s lagoon. Burano has a long history of lace making. During the winter of 1871-72, the island’s economic mainstay of fishing was destroyed when the lagoon froze. Women returned to lacemaking to generate income, and a lacemaking school was set up. The old school grounds today house the Lace Museum, with its incredible collection of both needle lace and bobbin lace. There is lace beginning from the 16th century to today. The permanent exhibition begins with several short videos, in different languages, on how lace is made. There is also an excellent display which shows lace making all across Europe.

Length of Italian needle lace, late 16th century. Lace Museum, Burano, Venice.

Length of Italian needle lace, late 16th century. Lace Museum, Burano, Venice.

There are lots of tourist shops which sell machine lace on this small island. If you are looking for handmade bobbin lace, one of the best places to go is Atelier Martine Vidal, which also has a beautiful collection of antique lace on display. Venetians proudly claim that needle lace was invented in the 1500s in Venice itself. A visit to the Lace Museum may not confirm this claim, but it certainly shows you why Venetians are proud of their lacemaking tradition.

Shelley Anderson, Friday 23rd March 2018.

   

Textiel Museum, Tilburg

Textiel Museum Tilburg. Exhibition '1920s Jazz Age - Fashion & Photographs'.

Textiel Museum Tilburg. Exhibition '1920s Jazz Age - Fashion & Photographs'.

Yesterday, Gillian and I travelled to Tilburg, in the south of the Netherlands. Gillian had been asked by the British journal Selvedge to write a brief review of a new exhibition mounted at the Textiel Museum. I happily plodded along. I had never been to this museum before, and was very curious. I love visiting museums and exhibitions, but to be honest, I find some of them more interesting for their exit than their entrance. What was the Textiel Museum going to be like?

Tilburg is a former centre of the Dutch textile, and in particular wool industry. I had read before that the museum was housed in the premises of the former textile firm of Mommers. I was therefore wondering whether the Textiel Museum would be yet another place that was trying to keep alive, in a somewhat nostalgic manner, the former glories of an industry that had long disappeared. But I was very pleasantly surprised to find a very lively and active textile centre with some excellent exhibitions, with working machinery, and with craftsmen/women and artists actively doing their work. Perhaps the word ‘Museum’ for this place is a bit of a misnomer. It is far more than a series of rooms and corridors with objects being displayed. It is fascinating to see how wool was carded, reeled, and in the end worked into cloth on looms, many of which are shown in the museum and many of which are actually in active service. There was also a display of all the machinery used to make damask linen cloth; absolutely fascinating.

Textiel Museum Tilburg. Exhibition 'Colour & Abstraction - Generations in Dialogue'.

Textiel Museum Tilburg. Exhibition 'Colour & Abstraction - Generations in Dialogue'.

But it was not only the machinery that intrigued me. Also many of the objects on display as well were well worth seeing. One of the temporary exhibitions was about the so-called ‘flappers’, the young girls of the Charleston age in their relatively short dresses. It showed the mainly American fashion of the 1920s. I know, the clothes on display were for the well-to-do, but it does produce a happy smile.

Textiel Museum Tilburg. Exhibition 'Colour & Abstraction - Generations in Dialogue'.

Textiel Museum Tilburg. Exhibition 'Colour & Abstraction - Generations in Dialogue'.

But what we really came for was a new, temporary exhibition called ‘Colour and Abstraction. Generations in Dialogue,’ which can be seen until 3rd March 2019. We were shown around by one of the museum’s curators, Suzan Russeler, who guided us with great enthusiasm along the objects. Since the exhibition only opened yesterday afternoon, I think we were the first visitors. But it was certainly busy when we left.

The exhibition includes art works made during the last sixty years by a number of design artists, and using textile as their main medium. The exhibition includes works by Rafaël Rozendaal, who uses images from the internet and social media to create a mesmerizing array of geometric shapes and colours. There is also a beautiful wall hanging designed by Peter Struycken, with a mishmash of subtle colour combinations. There are also art works that are three-dimensional and thus make ample use of the flexible nature of the medium by providing spectacular changes with the use of light and movement.

Some of the objects on display were actually designed and made at the Textiel Museum itself, in its so-called TextielLab, which is a space that provides the facilities for artists to experiment with designs, colours, techniques, but also with types of yarns, dyes, etc. And what is great, is that visitors to the museum can have a good glimpse of what is being done in the Lab. It was bitterly cold, but the museum cafe served excellent coffee, and while drinking that, you can admire the textile decor. No regrets. Well worth a visit. The website of the Textiel Museum is https://www.textielmuseum.nl/en. The photographs were made by Gillian.

Willem Vogelsang, Sunday 18th March 2018

   

A Manchester flavour

Two Manchester students at the TRC Intensive Textile Course, March 2018.

Two Manchester students at the TRC Intensive Textile Course, March 2018.

This last few weeks have had a Manchester flavour! And I am not talking about football teams. On the 6th-7th March, I was in Manchester, UK, to discuss the various ways the TRC Leiden and the Manchester School of Art (part of the Manchester Metropolitan University) could work together. The School is geared towards the training of textile designers who specialise in a variety of subjects, such as embroidery, knitting, printing and weaving. These subjects include both hand and machine forms. There is also a large fashion department training the students to design future fashions.

Read more: A Manchester flavour

   

A child's history

Outfit for an orphan girl, early 20th century, Foundling Museum, London.

Outfit for an orphan girl, early 20th century, Foundling Museum, London.

The Foundling Museum in London is a fascinating piece of social history. This compact museum records the history of orphans and of those who tried to help them. The story begins in 1741, when the Foundling Hospital (think ‘hospital’ in terms of ‘hospitality’, not medical treatment) was established in Blooomsbury, London, to care for abandoned and neglected children. The orphanage was in operation until 1924, and the building was demolished in 1926. The orphans were rehoused outside of London. The Museum is housed in another building, not far from the original premises, at Brunswick Square.

The displays include oral histories, paintings (William Hogarth was a supporter of the Hospital) and other art works. The latter includes a moving piece made in 2012 by Emma Middleton, and deals with responses from teachers to the orphans’ uniforms. Called “Labelled”, it features a row of pegs on which hang identical white cotton school shirts, each with a red stitched label. The labels record sentences the orphans were told in school: “I hate you”, “If you can’t bring a pencil with you, don’t come”, “You are stupid”. Nearby are two brown serge childrens’ uniforms: a dress and white apron and bonnet for girls; a black necktie, white shirt, red wool waistcoat, trousers and cap for boys. The example on display dates to the twentieth century.

Read more: A child's history

   

Bolivian and Peruvian hats for women

Bolivian woman’s hat with sequins and beads from the Tarabucco region of Bolivia (TRC 2018.0600; v/d Bijl collection).

Bolivian woman’s hat with sequins and beads from the Tarabucco region of Bolivia (TRC 2018.0600; v/d Bijl collection).

During the 1990’s Yvonne van der Bijl was travelling through Bolivia and Peru as part of her work as a travel guide author. During her visits she started to make a small collection of Bolivian and Peruvian hats for women. She used these in her books and articles, as well also as part of a gallery exhibition about South American headwear held at the LAC Gallery, Amsterdam in 1998.

Woman’s hat with sequins and beads for an Aymara woman, Tarabuco region of Bolivia (TRC 2018.0602; v/d Bijl collection).

Woman’s hat with sequins and beads for an Aymara woman, Tarabuco region of Bolivia (TRC 2018.0602; v/d Bijl collection).

Yvonne van der Bijl is now downsizing and tidying up and as a result a few days ago twenty Bolivian and Peruvian hats for women arrived at the TRC ! Over the next few weeks the TRC will be sorting out, cataloguing and photographing the hats, but if you know of any books and articles in which there is detailed information about the different types of Bolivian and Peruvian hat styles for women can you please get in contact with us at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  

Peruvian woman’s hat with deep red fringe from the Checaspampa region (TRC 2018.0593; v/d Bijl collection).

Peruvian woman’s hat with deep red fringe from the Checaspampa region (TRC 2018.0593; v/d Bijl collection).

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, Sunday 11th March 2018

Peruvian woman’s embroidered hat from the Cabanacone region, Colca Canyon region (TRc 2018.0603; v/d Bijl collection).

Peruvian woman’s embroidered hat from the Cabanacone region, Colca Canyon region (TRc 2018.0603; v/d Bijl collection).

   

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Donations

 
Financial donations to the TRC can be made via Paypal; Donaties aan de TRC kunnen worden overgemaakt via Paypal:
 
 

TRC in a nutshell

Hogewoerd 164, 2311 HW Leiden. Tel. +31 (0)71 5134144 / +31 (0)6 28830428   info@trc-leiden.nl

Opening times: Monday to Thursday: 10.00-16.00 hrs, other days by appointment.

Bank account number: NL39 INGB 0002 9823 59

Entrance is free, but donations are always welcome !

Current exhibition: For a few sacks more ...., until 28th June

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Donations

The TRC is dependent on project support and individual donations. All of our work is being carried out by volunteers. To support the TRC activities, we therefore welcome your financial assistance: donations can be transferred to bank account number NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, in the name of the Textile Research Centre, Leiden. Since the TRC is officially recognised as a non-profit making cultural institution (ANBI), donations are tax deductible for 125% for individuals, and 150% for commercial companies. For more information, click here
 
Financial donations to the TRC can be made via Paypal: