Sunday, 24 June 2012

Style Africa

 I did intend to blog further on artistic matters but I visited a first-rate exhibition yesterday and must tell you about that. I had to attend a meeting of the Midlands Textile Forum which is held in Birmingham Museum and decided I would take in an exhibition called 'Style Africa'. This is great fun - apart from being educational. And they let me take photos freely!!

The textiles come from West Africa, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Gambia and are mostly cotton although there are one or two   pieces of silk. The first two photos are of kente cloth which is woven in very narrow strips and then placed side by side and sewn together. The second photo has the warp vertical and the typical displacement of side by side strips can be seen.
The colours are the typical African colours and that is what is so striking about the exhibition - the exuberance of the designs makes one smile.

 The third photo shows a wax print in various stages with the resist print in the lower right hand corner. This bears a close relationship to Indonesian batik from which the technique is derived. The top cloth shows the final fabric.

The blurb says that the Chinese tried to sell the Indonesian a cheaper form of batik but the Indonesians refused to accept it as the registration for multiple colours was poor but the Africans loved the cloth and took it up with great enthusiasm.
  1. This piece is very restrained! It is woven striped cotton with very heavy embroidery which mostly consists of thick cord oversewn heavily so the enbroidery is very heavy and stands proud of the cloth. It would have been worn by an important person.

See what I mean by exuberant! These fabrics for dresses!1 The patterns are often very large and I said to another visitor that I could not imagine the top right hand one of large chickens being worn in the UK. And blow me if there wasn't a dress in a very similar fabric further on!!! No photo of that one unfortunately.

There is a very good video. It is not a large exhibition and is contained in a single room but it si definitely ' vaux le visite' as the Michelin guides say.

It is on until September 2nd in Birmingham Art Gallery and they are running craft classes in conjunction with it. Adinkra printing is running daily from 30 June to 21 July and there will be a Kente Master Weaver present using his own loom from 10th to 15th July. I will certainly be there for that.

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About Me

I am weaver and - -. I dye my yarns with acid dyes, I paint my warps, put fabric collages and stencils on my weaving. I have three looms, a 12 inch wide, 12 shaft Meyer for demos and courses, a 30 inch Louet Kombo which is nominally portable but has a stand, two extra beams and a home-made device containing a fan reed. And last a 32 shaft Louet Megado which is computer controlled, has a sectional warp and a second warp beam and I am the proud owner of an AVL warping wheel which I love to bits and started by drilling holes in. I inserted a device for putting a cross in. I have just acquired an inkle loom and had a lesson from an expert so I can watch TV and weave at the same time. I am interested in weaving with silk mostly 60/2 although I do quite a bit with 90/2 silk. I also count myself as a bookbinder with a special interest in Coptic binding.