CONNECTIONS : 100 textile objects from the museum’s own collection in their (cultural-) historical context
CONNECTIONS
100 textile objects from the museum’s own collection in their (cultural-) historical context
Bernadette Deloose, April 20, 2009
Design museum Gent possesses textiles from the 15th century until now, mainly from Western Europe. One hundred items were selected from this rich collection, of which a great deal are exhibited for the first time.

Textiles (fabric, embroidery, lace, passementerie...) are created by connecting fibrous materials in various possible ways. The selected connection method will determine the look of the textiles. From a magnificent top in silk and gold thread to a lowly cotton cloth: the selected objects are each connected in their very own way, and sometimes in more than one way. The textiles illustrate an artistic movement, are reminiscent of a moment in history, give voice to a political stance. The objects are connected with people: artist, craftsman or craftswoman, client, recipient, collector, donator. But also with the city of Ghent: its history, its textile education and textile industry, with the Museum and with the people who endeavoured for the collection at the Museum. The selected textiles connect the past and the present as a source of beauty, knowledge, inspiration.


Connections/Child’s frock_Silk, embroidered_Mabel Sarton-Ellwes for L’Art Décoratif Céline Dangotte, Brussels 1910-1914
Connections/Child’s frock_Silk, embroidered_Mabel Sarton-Ellwes for L’Art Décoratif Céline Dangotte, Brussels 1910-1914


One major focal point in the selection process is diversity. The Museum owns few non-European textile items as these were never purposefully collected. Some of these items are exhibited. Western art, however, was regularly inspired by outside influences. Exoticism is a recurring theme: the fascination for the Orient, for instance, is evidenced by the passion for all things Chinese. Throughout Western textile history non-western patterns and motifs such as pomegranate were diligently incorporated. Typical techniques from other cultures such as batik or techniques with faraway origins in another culture such as macramé, were practised here. Here too numerous connections are identifiable.

Connections/Sample card for silken clothing fabric, France, 1932
Connections/Sample card for silken clothing fabric, France, 1932


In the presented textiles highly different materials were processed with animal (wool, silk), vegetable (linen, cotton) and synthetic origins. Besides this a vast array of techniques is represented: weaving, carpet knotting, embroidery, lace, braiding and knotting, crochet, printing and painting of textiles, batik. Many pieces at the exhibition were preserved in cut-down forms as samples, fragments, patches, strips. But even in their fragmentary state they are still highly prized pieces, such as a magnificent embroidered skirt hem of a ceremonial dress. All the same a great many fine pieces did reach us in a complete state. Textile has the most varied applications. Textile pieces for clothing will be on display such as lace lappets, dainty dresses or even a Turkish turban cover cloth.

Connections/Fabric fragment (with drawing woven in) for male waistcoat, Silk_1730-1740.
Connections/Fabric fragment (with drawing woven in) for male waistcoat, Silk_1730-1740.


Another area of application is interior decoration with varying objects including a damask napkin in commemoration of a victory won by Louis XV, a canopy bed curtain cloth, a partition cloth for a tent woven by Kurdish women. Only the finest was deemed worthy for religious ceremony; a fact proven by an embroidered chasuble or the lace of an alb, among other things. The fact that textile education was given both to young girls and to future professionals is evident from needlework samplers or the “texotheque”, a collection of fabrics used for documentation purposes in textile knowledge classes given in the previous century at the “Hogere Nijverheidsschool” (Industrial High School) of the time.

Connections/Napkin of Antonius Triest, bishop of Ghent_Linen Damask_Kortrijik, 1622-1657
Connections/Napkin of Antonius Triest, bishop of Ghent_Linen Damask_Kortrijik, 1622-1657


Many textile items are anonymous. The authors or manufacturers of the more recent objects usually are known, however. The works will be on display according to design and/or execution and are authored by a great number of famed and less-famed artists and designers: Henry van de Velde, Albert Van huffel, Mabel Sarton-Ellwes, Gabrielle Canivet, Jacques Bergmans, Jules Boulez, Eric Bagge, Gaston Woedstad, Eszter Haraszty, Herman Lampaert, Lutgarde Lescouhier, Marc Mendelson, Janine Kleykens, Ingrid Six, Marc Van Hoe, Alessandro Mendini, Agnes Stevens, Martine Gyselbrecht. The manufacturing centres, companies or workshops represented at the exhibition are: de Manufactuur van Bromley, Voortman, Soc. Anonyme Texas, L. Thienpont et fils, De Smedt Frères, Waesland, L’Art Décoratif Céline Dangotte, Studio Elisabeth De Saedeleer, Etvelor, Knoll International, Usines Cotonnières de Belgique, Goeters Ars et Labor, Solintex, Ter Molst.

Connections/Embroidered cloth for interior_Arabian population groups of South-Iraq, before 1978.
Connections/Embroidered cloth for interior_Arabian population groups of South-Iraq, before 1978.


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