Last week I visited the Netherlands to see the splendid exhibition commemorating the 500th anniversary of the death of the artist Hieronymous Bosch. The exhibition is in ’s-Hertogenbosch, the city after which the artist took his name, but we stayed in nearby Tilburg, which happens to have an excellent textiles museum.
The TextielMuseum in Tilburg is housed in an old spinning mill, now a national monument, with modern extensions. The ground floor recreates the woollen blanket factory that occupied the premises from 1900 to 1940, with baskets of fleece and carding, spinning, spooling, and weaving machines, all powered by a steam engine.
Next door, by contrast, is the modern TextielLab, a specialist workshop with computer controlled machines offering students and designers the chance to collaborate and experiment with weaving, knitting, embroidery, tufting, passementerie and laser cutting. Visitors are free to wander and see the machines in action, samples of experimental work, and take part in workshops – it’s an engrossing experience.
Upstairs, the temporary exhibition Co-creation explores in more detail three collaborations between the TextielLab and prominent design agencies. Studio Samira Boon’s work on textile structures inspired by origami interested me greatly. By combining suitable yarns and weave, Samira produced complex self-folding textiles known as “Super Folds”, which create a 3D structure.
Also on the first floor, another temporary exhibition called Switch examines 25 years of Dutch design. It includes some wonderful felted hangings by Claudy Jongstra.
There were some interesting rugs too, including the “accidental carpet” by Tejo Remy and Tanja Smeets, made from used woollen blankets.
The “Kiki Carpet” by Kiki van Eijk resembles a large embroidery and was inspired by the decor of 19th-century dolls’ houses.
The “Algae Growth” carpet by Studio Maarten Kolk and Guus Kusters looked at the issue of sustainability. The designers digitally printed the backing and treated it with the remnants of ink from the ink cartridges. After tufting, the carpet was then moistened so that the ink flowed from the backing to the pile.
Last but certainly not least, the final temporary exhibition on the ground floor is a retrospective of Sheila Hicks. Spanning seven decades of her work, the show includes some wonderful examples of her remarkably varied work, reflected in the show’s title “Why Not?”
More information about all these exhibitions on the TextielMuseum website.
Before coming home, we stopped off in Antwerp for a couple of nights, where the Fashion Museum (MoMu) currently has eight kimono by Itchiku Kubota on display. I’ve blogged previously about a lecture I attended on this master craftsman, but this is the first time I’ve seen any of his kimono in real life.
Unfortunately, they are displayed about six feet behind glass panels, so it’s not easy to see the detail. This, anyway, is my excuse for the not-so-great images below.
Six kimono are from The Universe section of his Symphony of Light series, ablaze with flames and swirls of colour, rich with embroidery and gold leaf highlights.
The two kimono from the Mount Fuji series are more subtle, with the textures created by shibori clouds delicately rippling across the pale surfaces.
Traditions and Dreams – Kimono from the Kubota Collection runs at the MoMu Gallery until 19 June 2016.