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The plot thickens. Last week we told you about a commemorative kerchief from Stadskanaal, a small town in the northeast of The Netherlands. We added that the kerchief included the embroidered signatures of some twenty-five names, plus references to the town of Stadskanaal, the name of 'Ons Belang', and two dates in the year 1945. This week we have received really interesting information from various sides.

As a result the story has unexpectedly taken a new twist. As pointed out to us (Deandra de Looff, many thanks!), the name of 'Ons Belang' was not only that of the local straw board factory, but also that of a temporary internment camp for men and women arrested for collaboration with the Germans. In fact, the camp was 'opened' on 7th May, some three weeks after the liberation of the area, and remained in use well into 1946. The camp was located on the premises of the straw carton factory, 'Ons Belang', hence of course the name of the camp. The initials J.K. that were embroidered on the kerchief, as we initially read them, could in fact also be read as I.K., for 'Internerings Kamp', as Deandra de Looff suggested. Furthermore, the embroidered names, as suggested by another correspondent, are not local, and likely represent people from outside Stadskanaal (thank you, Jacco Pranger).

The dates on the kerchief, which could be read as 17 May 1945 and 5 September 1945, may have been of great importance to the camp, the internees or their guards.

We will continue this intriguing piece of research, based on a simple handkerchief given to us by the owner of a local Leiden curio shop. It may well reflect a darker and hidden aspect of Dutch post-war history. We will keep you posted.

Gillian and Willem Vogelsang, 12 April 2015

Saturday, 4th April 2015: While visiting a curio shop in Leiden, we were looking at some old textiles, including part of a mid-19th century Cashmire style shawl. But among the various textile items there was also an embroidered kerchief worked in a red and beige cotton thread. It is an example of a commemorative embroidery, albeit on a small scale. The embroidery includes a central text that reads Stadskanaal J.K. 17-5-1945 Ons Belang 5-9-45. Surrounding it are numerous signatures.

Embroidered kerchief, internment camp, 1945. TRC CollectionEmbroidered kerchief, internment camp, 1945. TRC CollectionStadskanaal is a town in the province of Groningen in the northeast of the Netherlands. Ons Belang ('Our interest') was the name of a company producing straw-board.  It was opened in 1910, one of numerous socialist co-operatives that were established in the early 20th century in the Netherlands. The date on the embroidery is no doubt of particular importance: the nearby major town of Groningen was liberated from the Germans by mainly Canadian troops in mid-April 1945.

Ons Belang changed its name several times in the 1960s and 1970s and in 1978 the company was closed down. If you have any information about the people, company or what happened on the 17 May 1945 at the company please let us know.

Gillian and Willem Vogelsang, 4 April 2015

 

Perhaps I am becoming a bit of a fetishist, but after my blog of last week about some Afghan young men wearing a burqa to protest against the suppression of women's liberties in Afghanistan, there is another media report that drew my attention, again from Kabul. This time it is an Afghan performance artist, the 27-year old Kubra Khademi, who for eight (!) minutes walked the streets of Kabul wearing a kind of suit of armour over her normal clothing, with large metal breasts and buttocks, to protest against, as it is reported, the endemic harassment she and other Afghan women have to endure when they go out into the streets. A brave gesture, since she had to go into hiding after her performance. Yet, she told the reporter that there was one young boy, about ten years old, that got the message: "Look at that girl: she does not want to be touched."

Willem Vogelsang, 12 March 2015

Last night a friend and I went to the opening of a new exhibition, called Zijden Pracht (‘Silk Splendour’) at the Japanmuseum SieboldHuis, Rapenburg 19,Back of a Japanese kimono created by Itchiku Kubota, on display in the SieboldHuis, Leiden, The NetherlandsBack of a Japanese kimono created by Itchiku Kubota, on display in the SieboldHuis, Leiden, The Netherlands Leiden, The Netherlands. The kimomos on display come from the Kubota Collection, Japan. The exhibition is curated by Linda Hanssen.

The exhibition focuses on the hand dyed kimonos made by the Japanese master textile dyer, Itchiku Kubota (1917-2003). Some of the kimonos took forty dye baths, 300 colours and up to a year to be created. The garments can be viewed (and worn) as individual items, but some of them were made and decorated as part of a series ('winter', 'autumn', 'universe') and can thus be placed next to each other to create a scroll-like painting, with the design moving from one kimono to the next. The attention to detail, in the main design, background patterns, and the overall effect, is truly amazing. These are the work of someone who has not just mastered his craft, but has shown to be a true genius.

There are sixteen kimonos on display and they are truly unbelievable. If you have the chance to see the garments then it becomes much easier to understand the intense amount of work involved in creating just one of these kimonos, let alone the various series. And it will leave you reeling.

The exhibition will be on display until the 31st May 2015, and if you are in Leiden then this is a MUST for anyone who loves textiles. It is not often you get a chance to see such works of art (literally) and these kimonos are simply and utterly stunning items.

Gillian Vogelsang, 7 March 2015

We are so used to seeing Afghan women being clad in the all-enveloping burqas, or chadaris, that the garment has almost become an icon of Afghan society. Now I just came across a news report from Kabul about some young Afghan men donning the burqa. I quote a message from TOLOnews.com, by Tariq Majidi, published yesterday, 5 March: 

For the first time, more than 10 male civil society activists took to the streets of Kabul City on Thursday wearing burqas in protest of violence against women. The men sporting burqas began their protest in Pul-e-Surkh area of Kabul ending their march near the Independent Human Rights Commission (IHRC), walking over 200 meters protesting against the harassment and violence the women of the country face on a daily a basis. "I walked the streets today in a burqa to understand how my sisters and mothers face violence from men on a daily basis," a protestor said. "I wanted to understand the situation." Several spectators ridiculed the men protesting, while others supported the movement. "I was sitting inside a restaurant eating breakfast when I saw the men marching down the streets in their burqas," Maisam, Kabul resident, said. "I lost it and couldn't stop laughing. Men should not being doing this." Fifty year old Haji Haider, a resident of Kabul, said this move made by the men spoke volumes. "This is the first that I'm witnessing such a protest," Haider said. "This is a very good move. It's a step forward in favor of the women." The men have filed complaints and cases to the IHRC and the government to resolve the increasing harassment and violence against women. This comes after a female wore an iron clad vest illustrating the curves of the female body on the streets of Kabul in protest of sexual harassment of females.

Willem Vogelsang, 6 March 2015

TRC volunteer Shelley Anderson had another Textile Moment in Paris: “Avenue Montaigne is great for window shopping. It’s home to fashion houses Commemorative tile in Paris, dedicated to Madeleine Vionnet.Commemorative tile in Paris, dedicated to Madeleine Vionnet.like Gucci, Chanel, Prada, Dior and Vuitton, all competing to create eye-catching window displays. Thanks to TRC workshops and courses, I could work out how some of the outrageously priced clothing was constructed. But what was really thrilling was glancing down at the sidewalk in front of one shop and seeing a commemorative tile dedicated to fashion designer Madeleine Vionnet (1876-1975). Vionnet, who started out as a seamstress when she was 12 years old, revolutionized women’s fashion. She threw out frills and corsets, cut cloth on the bias for more freedom of movement, and used new fabrics like satin and gabardine. She gave her workers paid holiday and maternity leave, and had a day care centre on the premises—and a doctor and dentist. Her shop on Avenue Montaigne was nicknamed the “Temple of Fashion”.

21 February 2015

Hillegonda, a mannequin dressed in 14th century clothing, Huis van Hilde, CastricumHillegonda, a mannequin dressed in 14th century clothing, Huis van Hilde, Castricum

TRC volunteer Shelley Anderson had a recent Textile Moment in the north of the Netherlands: “Het Huis van Hilde" (House of Hilde) is a new museum in Castricum, just south of Alkmaar, devoted to the area’s archaeology. It’s a state of the art depot which houses almost a million artifacts, of which a thousand are on display. What impressed me the most were the 14 life-sized models and the clothing they wore: Hilde, based on a 4th century CE skeleton, wore an ankle length woolen dress and large plaid shawl, and a necklace with beads of glass paste and gold foil. The Bronze Age girl wore a plaid skirt and plain blouse, carried a spindle, and had a bag (perhaps sprang) over her shoulder full of wool. The 14th century Hillegonda wore a beautiful blue cloak and long red dress, with a tablet woven decorative belt. See www.huisvanhilde.nl for more information.”

21 February 2015

Hilde, mannequin dressed in 4th century CE clothing, Huis van Hilde, CastricumHilde, mannequin dressed in 4th century CE clothing, Huis van Hilde, Castricum

The last few days have been very varied. I was asked by the organisers of the Iranian Festival in Edinburgh (February 2015) to give a brief talk about the history of the chador (Saturday 7 February, at the National Museum of Scotland) and then a full length lecture about Iranian regional dress at The Nomad's Tent on Sunday (8 February). It was fun talking about these subjects and listening to the other participants, that included Dr. Lloyd LLewellyn-Jones (Edinburgh University), Dr. Nacim Pak-Shiraz (Edinburgh University) and Dr. Friederike Voigt (National Museum of Scotland). A wide range of subjects were discussed, from early cut-to-shape Iranian garments, 19th century garments for men, and a small collection of beautiful women's garments from the Qajar period now in the National Museum.

But the weekend was not just about lectures. There was a chance to see an amazing and very beautiful range of clothing in a fashion show, called Persian Chic: Contemporary Iranian Fashion, which presented the work of four modern Iranian fashion designers, including that of Naghmeh Kiumarsi, 'Zarir', Diba Mehrabi and Kourosh Gharbi. The work of Gharbi was impeccable.

In addition, Willem and I also had the chance to pop into the National Gallery of Portraits, where we searched for paintings with embroidery. We spotted several that will be shortly appearing in TRC Needles. We also had fun chasing some leads to the early history of whitework embroidery in Edinburgh, including the history of Louis Ruffini, an Italian textile entrepreneur, who lived here along Nicolson Street in the late 18th century. Sadly one of the buildings he was particularly associated with has long been demolished, but opposite there is now a Starbucks, where Sunday afternoon, it so happened, we had coffee with Jennifer Scarce, a well-known Middle Eastern costume historian.

We are also looking for examples of Ayreshire whitework embroidery - should you have any you are willing to donate to the TRC then please let me know. Our goal is to turn the TRC into an international centre for the study of embroidery, and thanks to the help of many people we are well on the way!

We finished our all too brief excursion to Scotland with a long overdue visit to the most intriguing and fascinating chapel of Rosslyn.

Gillian Vogelsang, 10 February 2015

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2311 HW Leiden.
Tel. +31 (0)71 5134144 /
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Entrance is free, but donations are always welcome!

TRC Gallery exhibition:
5 Febr. -25 June 2020: American Quilts

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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 Stichting Textile Research Centre.
 
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