Saturday, December 8, 2012

Textile Museum in Tilburg (The Netherlands)
Resource Review

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

For your convenience I have listed another post on the Textile Museum in Tilburg:
TextielLab & TextielMuseum - 2013
Wearable Art Produced by TextielLab in 2013

Tilburg is a landlocked municipality and a city in the Netherlands. It is located in the southern province of Noord-Brabant. Its municipality also includes the villages of Berkel-Enschot and Udenhout. With more than 200,000 inhabitants, it is the second largest city of Noord-Brabant, and the sixth largest city in terms of population size in the Netherlands.

City Center, Tilburg.

Little is known about the early history of Tilburg. Documents from the year 709 A.D. show the name Tilburg for the first time. After that, sources remain silent for some centuries. By the 15th century, one of the lords of Tilburg, Jan van Haestrecht, built Tilburg Castle. In 1858, however, the castle had to make way for a factory, but its image lives on, in the city’s arms and logo.

Coat of Arms of Tilburg.

Tilburg grew around one of the so-called "herd-places", which were three-cornered plots where a number of sand roads usually met. These herd-places were collective pasturelands for flocks of sheep. Their triangular shape is still reflected in the layout of many places within Tilburg.

Saint Joseph Church In Tilburg, City Center.

The poor farmers - that were living in these hamlets - soon decided to stop selling their wool and rather, to weave it themselves and so for a long time looms occupied a large portion of their houses. By the 17th century the number of looms in Tilburg exceeded 300. Eventually drapers supplied homes with fleece in order to develop a home cottage industry of weavers. From 1881 the wool industry underwent rapid growth with Tilburg having as many as 145 wool mills. The weaving cottage industry continued until the early years of the 20th century where woollen textiles from Tilburg became renowned throughout Europe.

King William II (1792–1849) Statue in Tilburg. He always had a soft spot for Tilburg for he once said about the town: "Here I can breathe freely and I feel happy". He supported Tilburg in a financial and practical manner, by improving the sheep breeding and building new farms in the area.

On 15th September 1866, Vincent van Gogh went to the new middle school at the William II college in Tilburg. Constantijn C. Huysmans, a successful artist in Paris, taught van Gogh to draw at the school and advocated to his students a systematic approach to the subject.

Vincent van Gogh’s school photograph (ca. 1866, age 13).

After the Second World War, Tilburg retained its place as the wool capital of the Netherlands, but in the 1960s the industry collapsed and by the 1980s the number of wool mills were few in number. Present-day Tilburg industry is characterized by transport and logistics, due to its geographical location, which enables quick access throughout The Netherlands.

Textile Museum in Tilburg
The textile museum in Tilburg was established in 1958. The original premise was a former 19th century complex of the former Mommers & Co woollen fabric factory (that operated as a textile mill). It was listed as a national monument in 1986 and was recently merged with the Tilburg Regional Archives. In 2008 it was renamed as the Audax Textile Museum of Tilburg. Its collection is divided into four sections: textile science, design, industrial culture and arts.

Old Building Complex of the Audax Textile Museum of Tilburg.

The previous functions and buildings were not coherent (due to their history) and so were fragmented in design and purpose. Consequently, a new unifying structure had to be designed and built in order to provide an exciting entrance into the building complexes that would not only house a coffee shop, retail store, historical textile machines (e.g. wooden looms etc.), valuable archives with corresponding reading rooms as well as modern and functional machinery (from knitting machines to a laser laboratory) that needed to be at the cutting edge of transforming artist’s designs into textile reality.

Glass Entrance to the Audax Textile Museum Tilburg.

A transparent glass corridor was an important component of the revised design, since it effectively routed visitor’s movements into various directions that connected disperse sections of the museum. Parts of the existing buildings were renovated; for example, the grounds between the museum and the surrounding neighborhood have been effectively restructured. The museum, the museum grounds, and the surrounding neighborhood of Tilburg Oud-Noord are now better interconnected in both spatial and social terms.

A simple sign – a simple entry/exit - from and into the neighborhood.

Strategically positioned, the new entrance was designed as an abstract glass volume. It radiates accessibility as well as strongly enhances recognition of the museum and its entrance to the passing public at large. The inner volume of the entrance contains rooms for gatherings, meetings and education and an auditorium that serves as a multifunctional hall with a capacity of ca. 100 people. On top of this, there is a platform with a wide view over the entire Mommers-complex, which can be used for various purposes such as lounging or presentations.

The Auditorium in the Glass Complex.

The Audax Textile Museum Tilburg presents itself as a unique and creative “working museum”. In the TextileLab, an integral part of the museum, artists and designers can have their designs realized on computer-controlled machinery under the supervision of textile specialists.

Textile Lab highlighting computer controlled machines.

On the other hand, you can be transported through time witnessing first hand the history of textile industrialization in the Netherlands with hand-weaving looms to steam-driven textile machines, and to present-day specialized companies with computer-controlled equipment. The collection presents a continuum of textile machinery from the 19th, 20th and 21st century.

The wooden looms of the Textile Museum of Tilburg.

The Museum uses multi-media presentations, machinery, art and film to transport you through the Dutch textile industry from around 1860 to the present day.

Some recent fabrics digitally manufactured at the Textile Museum.

There were only two disappointments I found with the Textile Museum as it presented itself: it wanted to reach an international audience and yet there was very little signage or explanations of objects and techniques in the international language of English; secondly, there was no “hands-on” experiences for the next generation of textile or fiber artists – children. With those two limitations in mind, it is nevertheless a “must” place to visit when in the Netherlands.

Textile Lab: 2011 Year Book
Many artists and designers find their way to the Textile Lab (Audax Textile Museum) to work on commissions from industry and institutions. Below is just a vignette of a selection of projects realized in 2011. A more comprehensive review can be purchased from the museum itself[1].

Interior Textiles For Hotel Rooms - Designer Roos Soetekouw
Commissioned by the "Hotel the Exchange", which opened its doors on the 3rd December 2011, it weaves together fashion and architecture. In collaboration with the Amsterdam Fashion Institute, eight students and alumni were selected to drive the vision for the hotel rooms, with each room having its own signature.

"Mattress Soft-tone Delux" exposes the young designer's desire to literally expose the mattress as a platform for an artistic expression of a netherworld and so led her to develop a Gobelin- and Damast-like fabric.

Fabric on the surface of the mattress.

The precious fabric was custom woven by the Textile Museum in two different color schemes using an experimental mix of yarns that included paper yarn, viscose, cotton, mohair and gold lurex.

Textile Realized Designs of Roos Soetekouw.

Another room designed by Roos Soetekouw was titled “Misunderstood Creature”. It is a fashion installation in one hotel room that includes three troubled illustrated creatures. The complexity of the misunderstood creatures is expressed in the custom-designed fabric that dresses the window and furniture, a triple-layered knit with a dark nude skin, a core of black loop yarns, and a sheer shimmering nylon surface.

Misunderstood Creature – Hotel room designed by Roos Soetekouw.

Wall Hanging - Designer Karin Peulen
The provincial Government of Limberg in Maastrict (The Netherlands) commissioned Karin Peulen to design a wall hanging for its canteen. She designed a piece called “Heavenly Water”.

Her design is an abstract green-white fabric with some bright red streaks, in which a leaf pattern, roots and silvery, gleaming water droplets can be discerned. The leaves are the Lady’s Mantle plant. She based her wall hanging on a painted collage of photographs of Alchemilla (“little alchemist”), who would refer to the drew-drops on the foliage of Lady Mantle’s as “heavenly water”. A second conceptual layer, underpinning this work, relates to the rhizome theory of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, who used the symbol of a rhizome to represent a democratic preservation of cultural diversity – a layer of conceptualism appropriate for a government canteen. The four-meter wide wall hanging realized by the Textile Museum, was woven in several bands. Ruben De Reu, who was trained as a textile restorer, reinenforced the edges of the wall hanging in order to achieve a taut stretched surface, which enabled him to mount the wall hanging on a wooden frame.

Kerin Peulen – Heavenly Water.

Fabric Mask - Designer Jamie Hayon
Spanish designer Jamie Hayon stands in the forefront of blurring the lines between art, decoration and design. He was commissioned by Museum of Image, Breda, The Netherlands to develop new work for the “Pop Up Generation” exhibition in association with a number of Dutch companies and production houses.

Due to his interest in street culture and graffiti art, the designer took the masks worn by Mexican wrestlers as the basis for his maxi version of textile masks (60 cm high with Pinocchio noses encased in silver-colored masks). The TextileLab was set the task - aside from weaving the basic fabric - to fabricate patterns burnt out in black imitation leather for the applique of mouth, eyes, and ears using a laser technique. The pieces of imitation leather are decorated with white embroidery in a variety of stitches that Hayon had found in an embroidery sample book.

Jamie Hayon – Que Pasa Guey.

ArtCloth - Designer Otobong Nkanga
Visual artist, Otobong Nkanga was born in Nigeria, although she was artistically trained in France and the Netherlands. She draws and paints semi-figurative, semi-abstract, surreal images that stems from her brutal colonial experiences of her homeland. She draws everything by hand first, and then it is digitised and processed in order for her designs to be woven. She was invited to produce an ArtCloth for the Museum Of Contemporary Art in Helsinki (Finland). Her drawing – Fragilologist’s – was a double woven textile that covered two folded double panels, each measuring 6 meters high and more than 3 meters wide, which were placed in the atrium of he museum’s foyer. The word – fragilologist – is her own neologism, giving expression to her research into the fragility of humankind in his environment.

Otobong Nkanga – Fraglilologist’s.

Wearable Art - Designer Eva Dunis
When Eva Dunis visited Syria the highly intricate cross-stitched embroidery and complex patterns made by Bedouins inspired the designer to use embroidery in her wearable art. Moreover, the history of the country was also a great inspiration for her. T.E. Lawrance (Lawrance of Arabia) in supporting the Bedouin liberation from the Ottoman Empire (1916-1918) appropriated their way of life and in doing so paralleled her own endeavour to appropriate and generate the so she named collection - “T with Lawrance” – a wonderful pun on words in English.

Dunis refers to French and English fabric traditions of that period and the mixing of patterns such as liberty prints and Toile de Jouy allowed her to reinforce the contrasts between the very different worlds of the Middle East and Western Europe. The embroidery was produced in the TextileLab by both hand and machinery.

Eva Dunis – T with Lawrence.

Fabric Length - Designer Britt De Groot
Britt De Groot worked at the TextileLab to develop her graduation collection, while an intern at the lab. Her graduate collection of laser cut fabrics is centered around the paradox that textiles are ubiquitous in our lives, while often are sublime in the sense that they form a background. She set herself the objective: to design textiles that command the center stage due to their visual attractiveness. The fabrics can be used as spatial partitions for interiors. Depending on the observer’s position and the direction of the incidental light, forms will appear or disappear. This evokes the textile to be a dynamic messenger, since it will provoke different impressions to the eye of the beholder at different times of the day.

Britt De Groot – Fabric length.

[1] H. Verstppen et al., Year Book Textiel Lab 2011, Audax Textile Museum, Tilburg (2012); ISBN 978-90-70962-51-7.

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