So here I am in Kuala Lumpur and I think it's Monday. We watched Chris, my grandson, sing under the dome of St Paul's cathedral, starting with Byrd's Ave Verum (Michael would have so approved), then two pieces by Stanford and finally a piece by Biebl. The front rows were occupied exclusively by relatives and hangers-on of Alice Smith School in KL!! We talked to Chris for a bit and then the school was taken off to their hotel while we went to Covent Garden. They were supposed to sing there but that was cancelled at the last moment. So we made our way to Stansted and hung around until the plane left at 1115 pm. We = my grand -daughter, Charlotte, and myself. We had very comfortable reclining seats on the plane and both slept very well.
On Sunday we went to a champagne brunch which did not finish until 430 pm. After that, I refused to do anything and pottered about.
Today my son-in-law, Robin, and myself, went to the new textile museum. I had not expected too much. I was wrong. It is very well done and beautifully laid out with first class exhibits. A whole gallery is devoted to 'technology' which really means how a specific process was carried out. For example, the Malaysians went in for a form of printed batik where they used large wood blocks, as in Indian printed textiles, to print an outline pattern over the whole of a fabric and then colours were applied by hand. I think of batik as individual pieces of silk which are decorative but the early Malaysian pieces were actually lengths of cotton which were used as sashes round the waist. I bought a length of batik fabric from the Museum shop. There were other galleries which displayed the textiles region by region. The Museum displays some old pieces but they have obviously gone out and commissioned example pieces. There is nothing obviously very old, frayed or tattered as there is in the Troppen Museum in Amsterdam. I think their brief was to present the very best of textiles in Malaysia.
There was a lot of songket which is woven. This has a silk or cotton warp and gold thread is used to create pickup patterns in the weft. Gorgeous stuff. There were several looms, A backstrap loom was shown doing pua kumbu which is a patterned cotton done by tie-dyeing the warp, and then weaving tabby with a thicker cotton weft. The warp is very close sett so you can hardly see the weft. This is a sort of warp ikat. The patterns are of religious significance and can contain stylized people and animals. There was a huge amount to see. I have taken photos but will have to see if I can do that later this week. I will go back there by myself and take notes.
Afterwards we went into the Central Market which is close by the Museum. This is on the edge of China town. I fear I lashed out and bought a woven cotton jacket from Sarawak. We also came across a very quiet rather restrained shop (unusual for the Central Market). We went in and had a lot of his wares laid out for us. He had a great deal of songket which his family has been weaving for a long time. When I asked, he also had some of the very nice woven cotton which they also use as sashes. It looks a bit like Madras cotton to me although the colours are different. I bought a length of very nice cotton. Then I bought some small pieces of songket- it is very expensive. After that we dived into Chinatown to buy Chinese paper for book binding. I have got through most of the roll I bought 2 years ago.
We turned home by a circuitous route involving the poshest hospital I have ever seen. Tomorrow Ruth, Charlotte and I are off to Sinapore for a few days.
So there we are. I hope to keep up the blog over the next few weeks, as much a record for me as anything else. So I must sort out the photos