Sunday, 22 January 2012

V&A - Trade Between East and West & The Power of Making

On the 18/11/2011 had a lecture on Textiles and Worldwide Trade (1600-1900). In other words "Everything comes from India".
A translated passage in the 'Vulgate' text of the Bible compares wisdom to dyed textiles in India (400AD). This is just a small example of how precious and respected India's textiles were regarded. They were known as the 'Master Dyers to the World'.

Chintz was a printed cotton with bright colours that could be washed - unlike the European linens. As early as 1620, 50,000 pieces of Chintz were imported to England. Chintz gained popularity as a dress and furnishing fabric as they were cheap enough for the emerging middle classes to afford them, but still retained the quality that the European linens did not.

Around 1800, 'Neo-classical' styles of dress and interiors based on Ancient Greece and Rome were very fashionable in Europe.

1526 - Moghul Empire established in Northern India
1600 - Founding of English and Dutch East India Trading Company
1700 - Ban on sale of Indian Chintz in England
1720 - Ban on use of Indian Chintz in England
1720 - 1774 - Ban on printing on cotton cloth in England (linen was used instead)
1724 - 'China Blue', new printing Method developed in England
1757 - England East India Trading Company became the main colonial power in India
1770 - Water power used to drive spinning machines
1785 - Steam power used to drive spinning machines
1800 - Britain overtakes India as the major world exporter of printed cotton cloth
1857 - Direct rule of India by British government
1947 - Indian independence and partition with Pakistan

After the lecture we visited the V&A with Dr Clare Rose and had a look at the difference between the fabrics from the East (India, China) and the replicas or 'reimaginings' from the West. It was clear the qualities and the patterns weren't at all as good as the Eastern fabrics. There were also a lot of other pieces of art, not specifically fabrics, that the British tried to recreate such as some Japanese pattterns, but once again, they were no where near as beautiful as the real Japanese ones.
I also visited the Power of Making exhibition on the same day with Niamh, which was really interesting. I especially liked the Crochetdermy Bear by Shauna Richardson and the pin-dress by Susie MacMurray - which made me wince a bit whilst imagining falling on it or wearing it!

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