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Street scene in the Jerusalem bazaar, 29 July 2019. Photograph Willem Vogelsang.Street scene in the Jerusalem bazaar, 29 July 2019. Photograph Willem Vogelsang.On Monday, 29th July, Gillian Vogelsang wrote from Jerusalem:

The last two weeks have been quite a time, both at the TRC Leiden itself and for myself. It has included the Out of Asia programme in Leiden, between 14 and 19 July. A few days later I took part in a symposium at Leicester University about science and archaeological/historical textiles, and now with Willem we have a few days in the old city of Jerusalem (a holiday, of sorts).

A theme of all these events, which became clear to me the last few days, has been the passing down of knowledge and community identity through crafts, rather than solely by the written word (a skill that was long in the hands of a few, elite men).

It has left me a little sad, as it is clear that conflicts, changes in communication (spending time on telephones and watching tv), technology (computer driven machines) and that dreaded word globalization have broken the lineage of generations of craft knowledge, which will never come back.

Opening of the Out of Asia exhibition, TRC, 14th July 2019. Photograph: Willem Vogelsang.Opening of the Out of Asia exhibition, TRC, 14th July 2019. Photograph: Willem Vogelsang.On Sunday, 21st July, Gillian Vogelsang wrote:

Last week Sunday (14th July 2019) saw the opening of the TRC exhibition: Out of Asia: 2000 Years of  Textiles a pop-up exhibition that was set up to coincide with  the massive International Convention of Asia Scholars in Leiden (co-organised by the International Institute for Asian Studies) and which had as its theme: Asia and Europe, Asia in Europe.

Over fifty people came to the opening of the TRC exhibition. I gave a lecture about ancient and modern textile contacts between Asia and Europe, and about the so-called Silk Roads that led from China, through Central Asia to the Middle East and on to Europe. And of course, in some cases in the opposite direction. But not only items were transported along the Silk Roads, but they also moved from India in all directions of the compass and were often transported along many maritime trade routes. Think of chintz and Kashmir shawls, and of course, the Paisley motif (buteh) that originated in India.

Words of welcome were also given by Sandra Sardjono of Tracing Patterns Foundation, Willem Vogelsang of IIAS, Leiden and the director of IIAS, Philippe Peycam.

Several people donated items to the TRC Collection, including a uniform dress worn by a nurse during the Second World War (1939-1945) and a child’s costume of a maid that was worn to a fancy dress party celebrating the liberation of The Netherlands from the Germans in 1945. These will be used in the TRC’s exhibition about textiles and dress during the Second World War, which will be held in the summer of 2020. Furthermore, John Ang presented two Malay batiks – one with turtles that represent long life – a good omen for the TRC!

Equally important, we had the chance to talk with many people about the work of the TRC, how we are expanding, needs for the short term and the long term. In other words, lots to think about.

Apart from the exhibition, the TRC also organised a week of special events. It was intense, but great fun! Over the week we had well over 200 visitors to the TRC, who attended a regular series of workshops in the morning and lectures in the afternoons. The visitors an workshop/lecture participants came, literally, from all over the world. The subjects ranged from Japanese and Western textiles and fashions over a 200 year period by Francesco Montuori, Malay batiks by John Ang, and three different forms of technical weave analysis, presented by Eric Boudot and Sandra Sardjono. Linda McIntosh discussed Lao textiles, and Chris Buckley gave a workshop on Asian looms and their lineage. The loom workshop on Friday 19th was followed by a talk on medieval Indian textiles excavated in Egypt (by the writer of this blog). The main practical workshops were given by representatives of Zhuo Ye Cottage, who came especially from Taiwan. They gave two workshops – basically an introduction to indigo dyeing. Fascinating. Many thanks to all our speakers.

On the same day as the indigo workshops (Thursday 18th July) there was a series of textile lectures at the National Museum of Ethnology, as part of the ICAS Conference. This part of the conference was organised by Sandra Sardjono and Chris Buckley.

A big word of thanks needs to go to all the TRC volunteers who have been helping prepare the exhibition and looking after participants of the workshops and lectures. Without their help it would not have been possible.

We are now seriously thinking about having one and two-day events on various textile themes to coincide with conferences in Leiden, as well as a TRC series of one-day events. So if you are coming to Leiden and are willing to give a paper, let us know! Who knows we may be able to organise a themed day of talks.

Exeter cathedral, the western facade, June 2019. Photograph Willem Vogelsang.Exeter cathedral, the western facade, June 2019. Photograph Willem Vogelsang.On Sunday, 30th June, Gillian Vogelsang wrote:

Willem and I have spent the last few days in the southern English town of Exeter. He was at a Central Asian conference at the University, while I was working, following up on an earlier visit in February this year, on various textiles housed in Exeter Cathedral. The origins of this magnificent building date back for some one thousand years and it is well worth a visit in itself.

In fact, I wanted to go back to Exeter because of my work on Volume Three of the Encyclopedia of Embroidery series, about Scandinavian and Western European forms. I am studying and gathering ideas for various entries, namely one on the use of hand embroidery for military and civilian uniforms and related items, on the use of embroidery within an ecclesiastical setting and finally an entry on medieval embroidery forms. In particular, I was at Exeter to see some examples of Opus Anglicanum (OA), which is a medieval form of English embroidery that was famous throughout Europe in the 12th-15th centuries.

The first two entries being researched will include items from within the Cathedral itself, such as the flags from various regiments that have been laid up there.They include various types of metal thread embroidery and applique techniques.

I was also looking at various medieval effigies of bishops to make notes about the embroidery depicted on their vestments, episcopal slippers, and associated cushions.

Regimental flags laid up in Exeter Cathedral, June 2019. Photograph Willem Vogelsang.Regimental flags laid up in Exeter Cathedral, June 2019. Photograph Willem Vogelsang.But most importantly, there are various examples of OA in Exeter, notably the St. Petrock Pall (in the Cathedral) and the pall from St. Mary's Arches Church, now on display in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum. In both cases the cloths are correctly called palls, but in the sense of an altar covering (altar pall), rather than a cloth covering a coffin (funeral pall).

Having the chance to see OA in detail was a treat and my appreciation for the skill of these unknown embroiderers so many centuries ago has increased considerably. The visit also left me with many more questions (as normal). Such as where did the St. Petrock Pall's silk come from, who made the background cloth, did the embroiderers use more than one type of couching, which is regarded as particular to OA, namely underside couching, and how was the final object used.

The indignation of what had happened to the Cathedral’s treasures (including its vestments) during the Reformation in the 16th century is still very much alive among the people working there!

I would like to thank all at the Exeter Cathedral Archives for their kindness, help and interest during my all to brief visit. We hope to come back soon!

On Thursday, 20th June 2019, Loren Mealey and Gillian Vogelsang wrote:

Ties to History, the TRC’s exhibition about the history and evolution of men’s neckwear, planned for next year, is progressing in both depth and breadth.

One of the TRC volunteers, Beverley Bennett, is an amazing quilter and she has made a special quilt based on a Dresden plate design – but made almost entirely from ties! There are also bowtie blocks in the corners, while the back of the quilt is made of men’s shirts. This quilt will be the ‘flag’ of the exhibition.

Items recently acquired for the exhibition opening on the 18th of October 2020 (more below), include a 1940’s USA sailor’s outfit (including the Crackerjack jumper) with its characteristic long tie. The origins of this type of tie go back, so it is said, to headbands used in the early 19th century, when the sailors wore their hair much longer than now.

There are ties commemorating special events, such as the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, and the red ties made specifically for the wounded soldiers in British hospitals. There is a tie to commemorate the Wright Bros first flight in 1903, the millennium, the Space Shuttle Challenger, and even the 100th anniversary of the telephone in The Netherlands. There are ties for secret societies, and we will share their secrets with society.

Quilt made by Beverley Bennett for the Ties to History exhibition. The main part of the quilt is made of men's ties.Quilt made by Beverley Bennett for the Ties to History exhibition. The main part of the quilt is made of men's ties.items include contemporary neckties reflecting trends throughout the decades, as well as stories about the designers who created them. There is a tie made by the personal tailor of a US president, as well as a US president’s own label tie. There are little-known stories behind the gifts of neckwear given to prominent leaders, as well as the stories from leaders about their own neckwear. We will exhibit ties and tie accessories from around the globe and throughout the decades. Events in history will be told via the necktie, and these are just some of our Ties to History.

We have a dedicated tie hunter in Mrs. Bonte, who is scouring the Leiden area for neckwear. There are donors giving personal ties, as well. Just today (20th June), two ties were delivered with the compliments of Henri Lenferink, the Mayor of Leiden. One tie has the crossed keys of Leiden’s coat of arms – so providing another very interesting history!

We are pleased to have been contacted by the Academia Cravatica, the Croatian Cravat Society based in Zagreb (Croatia), who are interested in helping with the history of the cravat, which includes its origins in 16th century Croatia, subsequent warfare and the cravat's introduction to the French Court, and then its use by Charles II of Britain, who made the wearing of cravats fashionable in England. It was also a form of neckwear that continued to be worn by King William, the Dutch husband of Queen Mary of Britain……

And why is the exhibition opening on the 18th October: It is the International Cravat Day, of course!

Part of a costume gallery with local clothing. Courtesy Museum of Ethnography, Krakow, Poland.Part of a costume gallery with local clothing. Courtesy Museum of Ethnography, Krakow, Poland.On Wednesday, 5th June 2019, Willem Vogelsang wrote:

I am just back from six days in the beautiful town of Krakow, Poland. It was an academic meeting that took me there in the first place, but fortunately I had the chance to stay a few days longer to get to know Krakow a little bit better.

I was really taken with the ethnographic museum, which houses a large and beautiful collection of regional clothing from Krakow and surroundings. To be precise, the name of the Museum is the Muzeum Etnograficzne im. Seweryna Udzieli w Krakowie. It was established in the early 20th century, and its holdings are very much based on the folk art brought together by the collector, Seweryn Udziela. The Museum is currently housed in the former town hall of Kazimierski, a suburb of Krakow. Most of the collection, as said, reflects Polish culture, and in particular that of southern Poland.

Ribbon shirt commissioned for the TRC from textile artist Jennie Kappenman.Ribbon shirt commissioned for the TRC from textile artist Jennie Kappenman.On Saturday 25th May, TRC volunteer Shelley Anderson wrote:

Two new TRC acquisitions are good illustrations of the diversity of the TRC collection. The first is a ribbon shirt that was commissioned expressly for the TRC from textile artist Jennie Kappenman (Red Lake Ojibwe). A ribbon shirt is a pan-American Indian garment “worn by men and women, generally on special occasions or ceremonial purposes. It's a way for us to represent ourselves in a nice way to our communities or spiritual practices,” writes Jennie.

The shirt’s origins are thought to be in North America’s Great Lakes region. French and English traders introduced silk ribbons in the 1700s, and also open neck, pull-over shirts originally of linen or cotton. By the 1800s many indigenous men wore ribbon shirts rather than the traditional buckskin shirt. The TRC’s shirt is black polyester, with ribbons in the colours of the Four Directions: red, yellow, black and white. A machine-stitched appliqué of a buffalo represents the Ojibwe and Dakota territories that make up the US state of Minnesota.


Teddy donated to the TRC by Jennifer Hopelezz, drag-queen from Amsterdam.Teddy donated to the TRC by Jennifer Hopelezz, drag-queen from Amsterdam.The second acquisition is a donation from the Amsterdam drag queen Jennifer Hopelezz. Or rather, the drag activist or ‘dragtivist’, as Jennifer uses the attention she gets as a man dressing up as a woman to promote LGBT+ equality and to fight discrimination against people with HIV. The drag costume featured is a teddy made of factory produced black net, embellished with a floral design of silver-coloured sequins. It was made for Jennifer by Spanish designer Sergio Pedrero Santos, who also known the drag queen Lola Veneno.

This costume and others will be featured in an upcoming TRC digital exhibition to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. In June 1969, when police raided the New York gay bar called Stonewall, customers unexpectedly fought back. The area around the bar was barricaded and traffic shut down for almost three days as more gay, lesbian and transgender people from around the city gathered to protest discrimination. The modern movement for LGBT+ rights was launched. The first LGBT+ Pride March took place the next year, to mark the first year anniversary of Stonewall.

Photorgaph showing two pieces of lace. The one on top (TRC 2007.0559) is handmade, the one below (TRC 2007.0595) is machine made.Photorgaph showing two pieces of lace. The one on top (TRC 2007.0559) is handmade, the one below (TRC 2007.0595) is machine made.On Saturday 25th May, Lisa Dilitz wrote:

My name is Lisa Dilitz, and I am from Innsbruck, Austria. I am in Leiden for one year while I study for a Master's in Arts and Culture at the University of Leiden. As I am particularly interested in textiles I have been working as a volunteer at the Textile Research Centre since October 2018.

Initially my main work was to help digitalise the Iranian textile and dress collection. However, for my Master’s Thesis I wanted to focus on digital fashion and textile exhibitions, therefore my task at the TRC changed a bit. Digital or virtual exhibitions are a relatively new approach to curation, which is conducted in cyberspace.

New technology has the potential to make collections of cultural institutions accessible, visible, broadens the audience reach, expands the physical exhibition space and provides new learning opportunities. Digital exhibitions are a credible method for cultural institutions to reach out, present their collection and share knowledge.  

The TRC began to publish online exhibitions in 2017 and uses this curatorial approach to interact on a global scale. I was given the chance to create a virtual exhibition myself, which helps me to develop my own research. I have teamed up with Olga Ieromina, a volunteer at the TRC and a lace specialist. We are working together on a digital lace exhibition for the TRC website.

How did we work? Olga and I have been meeting once a week at the TRC, starting from the beginning of February. The first question was: What do we want to exhibit? We decided on presenting a juxtaposition of handmade lace and their machine made imitations. We went through the TRC collection and found some suitable matches. For multiple sessions we were narrowing down the examples to seven pairs and carried out the necessary research. Thereafter we wrote the text labels.

I discovered that after writing the labels, the processes of implementing a physical or digital exhibition take a different path, and we started on the digitalisation process. Olga and her husband took high quality photographs of the laces. The images of the objects were uploaded on a computer, named and ordered into categories corresponding to the examples. We adjusted the images if necessary and balanced out the light and colour. Currently we are deciding on the best layout for the exhibition and doing some last refinements. The digital lace exhibition will go online in June.

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TRC Gallery tentoonstelling, 6 febr.. t/m 27 augustus 2020: Amerikaanse Quilts

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The TRC is afhankelijk van project-financiering en privé-donaties. Al ons werk wordt verricht door vrijwilligers. Ter ondersteuning van de vele activiteiten van het TRC vragen wij U daarom om financiële steun:

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