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View of one of the gardens at the Zhuo Ye Cottage indigo dyeing centre, in Miaoli, Taiwan.View of one of the gardens at the Zhuo Ye Cottage indigo dyeing centre, in Miaoli, Taiwan.Willem Vogelsang writes on Easter Sunday, 2019: For long I have been convinced that the Textile Research Centre in Leiden was absolutely unique in its combination of research, display and teaching. I was wrong, fortunately. I found a little textile paradise elsewhere in the world: Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting the Zhuo Ye Cottage, south of Taipei, in Taiwan, famous for its indigo dyeing centre.

This centre is beautifully located against the wooded flanks of a mountain ridge, and was built up since the early 2000s by a gifted couple, Mr ZUO Ming-Bang and his wife, ZHENG Mei-Shu.

It now includes a small picturesque village, but more importantly, it also includes a group of buildings that are used for indigo production and indigo dyeing. There is also ample space for workshops, and students and others who are interested can attend courses in various aspects of indigo dyeing. And all of it is surrounded by beautiful gardens and indigo fields. It really is an unique resort for the study of an ancient craft and tradition in Taiwan. 

War-time blouse sold by the firm of Hirsch & Cie, Amsterdam (TRC 2007.0885). The back of the garment, normally not visible, is made of a cheap material (net). The label with the name of the Jewish firm of Hirsch & Cie. was made illegible.War-time blouse sold by the firm of Hirsch & Cie, Amsterdam (TRC 2007.0885). The back of the garment, normally not visible, is made of a cheap material (net). The label with the name of the Jewish firm of Hirsch & Cie. was made illegible.In 2020 we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War 2 (1939-1945). As part of the research for a new exhibition about textiles and clothing made and worn during the war, the TRC has been looking into the fascinating history of the Dutch company of Hirsch & Cie, Amsterdam.

This line of research was suggested by the identification of two Hirsch & Cie garments in the TRC’s collection. The first is a blue silk dress with a hand embroidered collar (TRC 2007.0718), while the second is a blouse (TRC 2007.0885). Both garments date to the early 1940’s and were donated to the TRC by the family of Westerman Holstijn, who used to live in Leiden.

The item of particular interest is the blouse, because at first glance it looks normal – but it only has a front, the back is a piece of net. It dates to a period when textiles were scarce and many garments were still made of good cloth, but only at those places where the cloth was visible (such as the front of a blouse), but made of another material (in this case net) at places hidden by other garments.

But who was the company of Hirsch & Cie and what story can they tell about life during the war? The fashion house was named after its original founder, the Jewish entrepreneur, Leo Hirsch (1842-1906). The first establishment was in Brussels, followed by subsidiaries in Amsterdam, Cologne, Dresden and Hamburg. The company of Hirsch & Cie Amsterdam was founded in 1882 by Sylvain Kahn and his colleague Albert (Sally) Berg, who previously had worked together in the main subsidiary in Brussels.

Gillian Vogelsang writes on 31st March:

The TRC has just received another box from Sherry Cook in Washington, USA, this time filled with eight quilts and 200 feedsack samples. There was also a copy of the Skamania County Pioneer newspaper, of Wednesday, March 13th, 2019. It contains an article entitled 'Quilters collection featured by Dutch textile museum.' The article tells the story of Sherry Cook's life-long interest in quilts and quilting, and how she came into contact with the Textile Research Centre along the Hogewoerd in Leiden. The article can be downloaded here.

Reem El Mutwalli (left) and Gillian Vogelsang (right), at the new Friday mosque of Abu Dhabi, Monday 18 March 2019.Reem El Mutwalli (left) and Gillian Vogelsang (right), at the new Friday mosque of Abu Dhabi, Monday 18 March 2019.On Wednesday, 20 March 2019, Gillian Vogelsang reports:

This weekend was spent with Willem, my husband, in Dubai. The main focus of the weekend was getting to know Dr. Reem El Mutwalli of the Zay initiative. She is an amazing, enthusiastic colleague with a passionate love and knowledge of textiles and dress from the Gulf region.

During the intense two-day meeting, some of the discussions took place in a car travelling between various venues, including going to the emirates of Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. In Abu Dhabi we had the chance to visit the beautiful Friday mosque (while the Abu Dhabi Louvre was closed ). We also attended an art gallery event and a preview of a Sotheby’s Islamic Art auction in Dubai. A representative of Skira Art Books, Milan, was present at the latter and we had a brief discussion with him about the TRC Collection and using it for art publications. They will be contacting the TRC shortly.

But back to the main themes of the visit. Dr. Reem is a very active business woman used to living within the art/cultural world, as well as being very used to move in both the Arab and European environments and she understands the differences (as well as explaining them). She will probably be coming in July 2019 to Leiden to help with the large TRC Asia Week, to coincide with the even larger ICAS Asian conference. The TRC will have a week of lectures and workshops during the conference, including at least one talk by Dr. Reem on Asian influences on Middle Eastern dress.

One of the many questions raised was concerned with how the Zay Initiative and the TRC could work together to raise international awareness of Arabian Peninsular dress. Various possibilities are being explored and as more details and information become available we will let you know. One thing that is clear: Another visit to Dubai is being planned, but perhaps not during the summer months, when we ‘ Northerners ‘ would simply wilt in the hot, humid conditions of the Gulf.

Dr. OYAMA Yuzuruha (Tokyo National Museum) and Dr. Melissa M. Rinne (Kyoto National Museum) visiting the TRC, Friday 15 March 2019.Dr. OYAMA Yuzuruha (Tokyo National Museum) and Dr. Melissa M. Rinne (Kyoto National Museum) visiting the TRC, Friday 15 March 2019.On Friday 15 March 2019, Gillian Vogelsang wrote:

We had two very interesting visitors to the TRC today, namely OYAMA Yuzuruha (Tokyo National Museum) and Melissa M. Rinne (Kyoto National Museum). They are on a study tour of various West European museums and private institutes as part of a much larger project to study pre-1939 Japanese textile and dress collections, including those that found their way to Europe.

They came to the TRC in order to see our current exhibition about velvet, and stayed for several hours to see what the TRC actually does (they were particularly taken with the Dutch lace caps), as well as to look at our collection of Japanese textiles and garments. They had a long discussion with Francesco Montuori, a TRC student, who is working on a MA about Japanese culture. He is also cataloguing the TRC’s collection of Japanese textiles and garments.

Various garments were brought out and discussed. We will be amending some of our catalogue entries based on what was said.

There was also an impromptu kimono folding session, which was really interesting and fun. Francesco is now seriously interested in the idea of staging an exhibition about Japanese garments and culture at the TRC. More news about this will be presented in due course.

Needless to say we are now looking for donations of Japanese textiles and garments and funding to stage such an exhibition in 2022 (which sounds a long way away, but it will soon come).

Both Francesco and I are looking forward to working with these colleagues from Japan in due course.

International Women's Day, 8 March 2019, Moniek van Sandick to the right, and Gillian Vogelsang to the left.International Women's Day, 8 March 2019, Moniek van Sandick to the right, and Gillian Vogelsang to the left.Wednesday, 13 March 2019, Gillian Vogelsang writes:

Last Friday, International Women's Day, the TRC had a surprise visit from Moniek van Sandick, who is running for the Provincial Council of Zuid-Holland at the forthcoming elections in The Netherlands. She handed me a large and exubriant bouquet of flowers. Moniek was one of the first volunteers at the TRC and continues to have a great interest in our activities. For a long time, she was a member of the municipal council of Leiden.

The Mayor of Leiden, Henri LenferinkThe Mayor of Leiden, Henri LenferinkFriday, 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.

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.

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TRC in a nutshell

Hogewoerd 164
2311 HW Leiden.
Tel. +31 (0)71 5134144 /
+31 (0)6 28830428  
info@trc-leiden.nl

Open on Mondays - Thursdays
from 10.00 - 16.00.

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

Entrance is free, but donations are always welcome!

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

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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: