EXERCISE 1.1 THE ARCHIVE
The aim of this exercise is to identify an archive and select three textile pieces to observe and work from. With the intention of expanding my experience of textile handling and close analysis.
I noted that the textiles can be three different pieces. The objects should be made from textiles or with a textile component. I also noted that the exercise is an observational drawing project and that my decision on which pieces should be made mostly on the basis of the appearance and construction of the pieces although information about their history and story will provide another layer of information. Whilst I could go to a formal archive, a gallery or museum it is possible to consider my home as an alternative archive given that it could be a personal archive.
I had difficulty locating a textile archive in my area. The main collection of Australian textiles on the eastern shore is held at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. Sydney is 1200 kilometres away from me. So I took the opportunity on a quick visit to London (a few days) in October to visit the Victoria and Albert Exhibition on India. I took notes and did a quick sketch of an item that appealed to me. I could not handle the piece. I followed that up on my return to Australia with considering a piece of old/vintage Indian Kantha that I purchased (in New Zealand) from John Gillow (a well known UK textile author and collector)several years ago. It was not dated by John and I could not find a way to contact him in the UK for any assistance but it enables me to touch and examine the contruction of this piece. I also have a vintage throw which is made of 45 years plus old Indian fabric probably from saris and has been roughly kantha stitched. Once again I can touch and feel this piece.My third piece is a family Christening Gown that is made with Nottingham lace and is over 90 years old. I also followed this up with a visit to the Bobbin Lace Museum in Brugge (also on my quick visit to Belgium)and had the opportunity to touch samples of the work and to see demonstrations of the technique by volunteers at the Museum.
I did consider Tapa Cloth pieces that are in my family collection from Fiji and are over 50 years old. Tapa is often made from the bark of a paper mulberry sapling and is practiced in the Pacific. There are various techniques to producing the Tapa cloth and this varies betwen Pacific countries. The cloth has many varied and brilliant patterns. The pieces I hold are for use as tableware so there is no joining or stitching involved so this time I decided not to use for the assignment.
So after procrastinating for too long I finally decided to use the Kantha piece purchased from John Gillow; the old Indian throw and the family Christening Gown. I made this decision because I felt these pieces would give me the most scope to continue with the history, mark making and collage and so on required in further work for this Assignment.