Textiel Museum Tilburg. Exhibition '1920s Jazz Age - Fashion & Photographs'.Yesterday, Gillian and I travelled to Tilburg, in the south of the Netherlands. Gillian had been asked by the British journal Selvedge to write a brief review of a new exhibition mounted at the Textiel Museum. I happily plodded along. I had never been to this museum before, and was very curious. I love visiting museums and exhibitions, but to be honest, I find some of them more interesting for their exit than their entrance. What was the Textiel Museum going to be like?
Tilburg is a former centre of the Dutch textile, and in particular wool industry. I had read before that the museum was housed in the premises of the former textile firm of Mommers. I was therefore wondering whether the Textiel Museum would be yet another place that was trying to keep alive, in a somewhat nostalgic manner, the former glories of an industry that had long disappeared. But I was very pleasantly surprised to find a very lively and active textile centre with some excellent exhibitions, with working machinery, and with craftsmen/women and artists actively doing their work. Perhaps the word ‘Museum’ for this place is a bit of a misnomer. It is far more than a series of rooms and corridors with objects being displayed. It is fascinating to see how wool was carded, reeled, and in the end worked into cloth on looms, many of which are shown in the museum and many of which are actually in active service. There was also a display of all the machinery used to make damask linen cloth; absolutely fascinating.
Textiel Museum Tilburg. Exhibition 'Colour & Abstraction - Generations in Dialogue'.But it was not only the machinery that intrigued me. Also many of the objects on display as well were well worth seeing. One of the temporary exhibitions was about the so-called ‘flappers’, the young girls of the Charleston age in their relatively short dresses. It showed the mainly American fashion of the 1920s. I know, the clothes on display were for the well-to-do, but it does produce a happy smile.
Textiel Museum Tilburg. Exhibition 'Colour & Abstraction - Generations in Dialogue'.But what we really came for was a new, temporary exhibition called ‘Colour and Abstraction. Generations in Dialogue,’ which can be seen until 3rd March 2019. We were shown around by one of the museum’s curators, Suzan Russeler, who guided us with great enthusiasm along the objects. Since the exhibition only opened yesterday afternoon, I think we were the first visitors. But it was certainly busy when we left.
The exhibition includes art works made during the last sixty years by a number of design artists, and using textile as their main medium. The exhibition includes works by Rafaël Rozendaal, who uses images from the internet and social media to create a mesmerizing array of geometric shapes and colours. There is also a beautiful wall hanging designed by Peter Struycken, with a mishmash of subtle colour combinations. There are also art works that are three-dimensional and thus make ample use of the flexible nature of the medium by providing spectacular changes with the use of light and movement.
Some of the objects on display were actually designed and made at the Textiel Museum itself, in its so-called TextielLab, which is a space that provides the facilities for artists to experiment with designs, colours, techniques, but also with types of yarns, dyes, etc. And what is great, is that visitors to the museum can have a good glimpse of what is being done in the Lab. It was bitterly cold, but the museum cafe served excellent coffee, and while drinking that, you can admire the textile decor. No regrets. Well worth a visit. The website of the Textiel Museum is https://www.textielmuseum.nl/en. The photographs were made by Gillian.
Willem Vogelsang, Sunday 18th March 2018