TRC Blog: Textile Moments

Leiden Mayor visits the TRC

The Mayor of Leiden, Henri Lenferink

The Mayor of Leiden, Henri Lenferink

Friday, 8 March 2019, Gillian Vogelsang writes:

This morning saw a visit to the TRC by Henri Lenferink, the Mayor of Leiden. He had heard from various sources about the TRC and what we do and had decided to see exactly what was happening – and it was far more interesting than he had expected! The Mayor is an historian by training and quickly understood what the TRC was doing, the significance of the broad and diverse nature of the Collection and its online catalogue, and the importance of the stories behind the many objects housed there. It is clear: more and more people are listening to the language of dress and textiles.

Various items were shown to the Mayor, including the Leiden Hat, which dates to the late eighteenth century and was made in Leiden, and from the Second World War we showed him a feestrok that commemorates the liberation of Holland in 1945, and a handkerchief, with the embroidered names of female collaborators with the Germans, who had been interned in Stadskanaal (Groningen) in 1945. These two textiles represent two different stories about war-time Holland. The Mayor also admired some of the Nepalese textiles, which were donated on behalf of the late Susi Dunsmore by her executor.

The Mayor had checked out the TRC’s website, but as so often happens reading about the TRC and actually experiencing it are two different matters! The TRC is a valuable asset for Leiden, once described as a secret treasure trove, but one that is receiving more and more attention and is being recognised as a fantastic resource for a broad public, both in Leiden and elsewhere in the world. However, with the rapidly expanding collection and library, and the growing number of lectures, workshops, gallery exhibitions etc., the present premises are no longer sufficient, and more space is urgently needed. The Mayor noted our need for larger premises. We are in total agreement.

   

Collection of Nepalese textiles donated to TRC

TRC colleagues going through the recent arrival of the Nepalese textiles.

TRC colleagues going through the recent arrival of the Nepalese textiles.

The TRC recently received a collection of Nepalese textiles, which were donated on behalf of the late Susi Dunsmore by her executor. The textiles were collected in Nepal from the 1980's to 2013. On Thursday morning (27th February 2019) the textiles and related items, including several looms, arrived at the TRC. A team from the TRC will spend the next month working on a basic catalogue and photographing all the items, and getting all the items online. A more detailed catalogue and an online exhibition will be coming in due course.

There are over 600 items in the collection, including raw fibres, spinning and weaving equipment, and samples of dyed, woven, embroidered and knitted textiles, as well as complete garments and headgear for men and women. There is, for example, a wide range of Himalayan nettle textiles in a variety of different weaves (including leno) and embroidered textiles carried out with orchid stem threads.

Read more: Collection of Nepalese textiles donated to TRC

   

Sunday, 24 February

Gillian Vogelsang writes on Sunday 24 Fenruary:

Today has been quite a day. This morning we had a meeting of a hand knitting group working on samples for the sock exhibition to be held at the TRC in the autumn of 2019. These fanatic knitters come from all over the Netherlands to work on this exhibition and make it a comprensive story of hand knitted socks.

Then in the afternoon we staged a lecture about the embroidered and beaded garments from the tomb of Tutankhamun. Although textiles and garments are the largest group of objects from the tomb, they remain virtually invisible in comparison to the gold masks, chariots, chests, and so forth. The TRC has long been involved in cataloguing, describing and presenting information about these textiles.

This afternoon saw the TRC also looking to the future in the form of signing a MoU with The Zay Initiative, Dubai, and more specifically with its director, Dr. Reem El Mutwalli. The aim of this MoU is to share experiences, to work on mutal interests in Middle Eastern dress and more specifically, Arabian Peninsula dress and accessories, and helping with fund raising, publicity and educational programmes that will benefit everyone. Interesting days ahead.

   

Is fast fashion slowing dwn?

On Sunday, 24 February 2019, TRC volunteer Alice Jaspars wites:

The world is moving quicker than ever before, and fashion is getting faster with it. It is now possible to buy an entire ensemble (shoes included) for under 20 euros from a high street retailer. But the environmental and societal cost of such an outfit is something which has reached increasing media attention, especially in the past weeks. With many pledging not to buy from the high street due to its lack of sustainability, 2019 seems to mark an interesting turning point in the way we consume our clothes.

There are two schools of thought with regards to being more environmentally and socially conscientious in fashion. The first is that which suggests that all new clothing produced ought to be procured from so-called ‘sustainable retailers’, those who ensure that all attire is made in the most environmentally friendly way possible, from the water used, to the way the machines are powered. These brands are often expensive, with t-shirts costing some 50 euros, and are often extremely limited in the styles they offer. This prohibits many from shopping sustainably in this manner.

The second school of thought, and the one I confess to following, is that which favours second hand clothing. From Kringloops to charity shops, these offer a cheaper and arguably more effective way to shop in a sustainable manner. It is estimated that by 2022 some 40% of our wardrobes will consist of second hand material, a reason to be hopeful. With the average t-shirt going for a euro a piece, there seems little reason to stray anywhere else. There are also far more opportunities to invest in quality pieces, and well-known brands, with my own wardrobe being aided by pieces from Burberry, YSL and Hermes (to name but a few), all second hand. Besides – it’s far more fun this way. Nothing will ever feel as good as being able to say ‘This, oh, it’s vintage’.

   

Robert J. Charleston letters

TRC volunteer, Alice Jaspars, studying the Robert Charleston correspondence housed in the TRC library (February 2019).

TRC volunteer, Alice Jaspars, studying the Robert Charleston correspondence housed in the TRC library (February 2019).

On Sunday, 24 February 2019, Alice Jaspars wrote:

Robert J. Charleston (1916-1994) was one of the leading experts on glass in the United Kingdom and was Keeper of Glass and Ceramics at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The current archive of Charleston’s letters stored at the TRC Leiden details his lesser known passion for textiles, with correspondence both to and from him. His letters detail an interest in pursuing a PhD in the subject of the archaeology of textiles, though unfortunately this never came to fruition. 

I have transcribed some thirty letters of Charleston now, most pertaining to his desire to publish a particular article during the Second World War, but facing issues due to paper rationing. The style and content of his letters make the transcription far more of pleasure than a task.

Thanks to the TRC’s director, Dr Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood, we are now privileged to have this extensive correspondence between Charleston and other prominent figures, from the early 1940s onwards.

The archive is exceptional as we have both the letters written to, and the letters from Charleston, in almost perfect and precise chronological order. Having transcribed only a fraction of his letters thus far, it is clear that Charleston exhibits a tremendous intellect, ranging from assorted types of fabric, to the way in which he interacts with various well-known academics of textiles of the day.

Whilst I have only been able to transcribe a portion of the letters to date, I hope to use them as a basis for considering the ways in which relevant individuals from the time interacted with one another, and the way in which the knowledge of the time was developed into more personal correspondence such as these.

I will keep the blog up to date with any work of particular interest or of note.

   

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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. Holidays: until 11 August

Bank account number: NL39 INGB 0002 9823 59, Stichting Textile Research Centre

Entrance is free, but donations are always welcome !

TRC Gallery exhibition: 5 Sept. -19 Dec. 2019: Socks&Stockings

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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 Stichting Textile Research Centre.
 
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 also be made via Paypal: 
 
 

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