Saturday, March 30, 2013

Mary Schoeser – Textiles: The Art of Mankind
Book Review

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

There are a number of book reviews on this blogspot. For your convenience I have listed the other book reviews below:
The Pattern Base - Kristi O'Meara
Stitch Stories - Cas Holmes
Creative Strength Training - Jane Dunnewold

It is always difficult to write an impartial review of a book that contains some of your artwork. Moreover, it makes it harder when you have assisted the author in a very minor role to make links to other cloth artists or their bequests. I therefore need to clarify my association with Mary Schoeser before you read this review.

I have never met Mary Schoeser, but I was for a brief point in time in email contact with her. She asked me to email details of her book project to all the artists who featured in the exhibition that I curated (ArtCloth: Engaging New Visions) as well as to provide information of where she could procure images of Margo Lewers’ ArtCloth work. Of course, I was excited by her project and so I was more than happy to assist her in this minor role.

Prior to her contact, I was well aware of her expertise and authorship, having read two of her previous published works: World Textiles and Norma Starszakowna. Her friend - Norma Starszakowna - featured strongly in my exhibition. Mary Schoeser's understanding of the evolving journey of textiles and fabrics is without peer. Note: I usually categorize textiles as woven material, whereas fabrics may or may not be woven. However, for the sake of this review, I will use the word textile in a more generic sense that is usually encapsulated by the word fabric.

There are 1,058 color images in this book, with most artists having one or two images of their work. With the exception of a handful of artists, the book does not attempt to reflect a significant body of any artist’s work. This is not a criticism of the book, but rather just a fact. It was never intended to be a compendium of the lifelong contribution of various textile artists to their field.

Review: Mary Schoeser – Textiles: The Art of Mankind
(Thames & Hudson, New York, 2012.)

When I signed for this large package and unpacked it in my studio, I would never have imagined that Mary Schoeser’s initial request for couple of 300 dpi images and a short synopsis of textile artworks, would morph into a book weighing 3.2 kg, with a size of 28 x 23 x 5 cm, containing 568 pages and 1,058 color images. It is physically a large compilation!

Front Cover of Mary Schoeser's Book - Textiles: The Art of Mankind.

The title of her book - “Textiles: The Art of Mankind” - is in itself informing. There is an assertion that there is no art-craft divides, but rather there is a continuum of sorts and so to make them divisible is an artificial characterization. Her intention is not just to monitor today’s renaissance in textile art, but rather to strip away layers of superficiality in order to reach into the core essence of our act of engagement with textile arts and crafts. It enables her to juxtapose historical work with contemporary works, thereby highlighting the continuance of skill and daring. Furthermore, most of the selected textiles were handmade and those that were not had to show an imposed creativity on the machined output. It was the mindset of the creator imposed on the textile that was the criterion for selection for all of these works.

Norma Starszakowna, Voices in the Mother Tongue II (detail) 2003.
Appears in "Ingredients", Textiles: The Art of Mankind.

Schoeser purposely reduced the text to make way for a plethora of textile images. This is a strength rather than a weakness of the book. It speaks to you through your act of engagement with so many works and in doing so you become far more learned and less overwhelmed by the experience. Therefore it is a great visual and sensory resource that challenges your notion of what is conceptually possible in textile arts and crafts.

She has selected textile images (without knowing the hand of the cloth) with a very democratic mindset - for the most part, those internationally renowned textile artists are very well complemented by those who are not so well known. An artist's reputation is always an indicator of the ability to create a large body of work that fascinates an audience, but for the conceptual purpose of the book, it is the standalone textile image that must captivate the author's minds eye in order for it to be considered for selection. Therefore many textile artists are only featured once or twice in her book.

Books are planned and so they are not serendipitously invented. There is an underlying organizing principle behind every good book. If the organizing principle is incoherent, vague or contains contradictory elements, the book is off to a poor start. If the organizing principle that is enunciated is not adhered to or poorly applied - ditto.

Schoeser has organized her book around a number of carefully chosen themes, namely:
(i) Impact: Within this context she explores and examines - Context, Language, Legacy and Learning, Colour and Global Vision.

Margo Lewers, Orange Came Through,1975.
Appears in "Impact", Textiles: The Art of Mankind.
Image Courtesy of the Margo Lewers' Bequest.

Ingredients: Invention, Intentions, and Alchemy.

Jane Dunnewold, Etude 25: For Trumpet, Choir and Elinor (detail) 2011.
Appears in "Ingredients", Textiles: The Art of Mankind.

(iii) Structure: Tensioned Techniques, Looping, Knotting, Lacing, and Twisting, and Loom-Weaving.

Jun-ichi Arai, Untitled, ca. 1987-1993.
Appears in "Structure", Textiles: The Art of Mankind.

(iv) Surface: Yarns, Stitch, Painting and Printing.

Katherine Westphal Rossbach, Sheath Dress (detail) 1970.
Appears in "Surface", Textiles: The Art of Mankind.

(v) Added Dimensions: Letting the Cloth Speak, Patchwork and Quilting, and Textiles Parkour.

Ludwika Zytkiewicz-Ostrowska, Blue, 2007.
Appears in "Added Dimensions", Textiles: The Art of Mankind.

Imagery: Identity, Narrative, of Time and Place.

Els van Baarle, On The Road Again (detail) 2010.
Appears in "Imagery", Textiles: The Art of Mankind.
Photographer: Joop van Houdt.

Within each of these chapters and sub-topics she peppers her comments by directing you to some of the textile imagery and comments made by the textile artists in order to reinforce the rationale behind the selection of the textile and moreover, to try to unpack the concept that she is propounding. In doing so, she is forcing you to join the dots of the textile imagery that she has NOT commented on, but that is included in a particular chapter. In fact, by doing so she is acknowledging that the act of engagement is also your responsibility and not just hers. She is there to guide rather than to dictate to you what you “should” see and feel about every textile piece included in her book.

Her organizing principle - that works brilliantly for most part - nevertheless can fray at the edges. Inevitably you begin to ask:
(a) Why does so-and-so not appear in this book – especially in this section, which would have been a perfect illustration of what Schoeser was espousing?
(b) Why does so-and-so have five textile images in this chapter, when so-and-so, who should have at least that number, has only two? In other words, why is the weighting among some textile artists so disparate in terms of their contribution to the field?
(c) Who is so-and-so? Hmm, not sure of the work and how it fits.

Hence in some ways her selections and weighting of the works appear idiosyncratic, but that will always be the case when choices have to be made (see my selected images in this post). You need to engage with the artwork in order to have an opinion of its worth and its weight to the overall concept of the book. This is an activity she invites you to do.

These criticisms are small indeed in terms of the sheer complexity, richness and insightfulness of Mary Schoeser’s view of textile arts and crafts. I have been a curator for a number of textile exhibitions in Australia and inevitably the same questions have been posed to me. In one case the artist could not exhibit due to prior commitments and yet she would have been a perfect contributor to the exhibition. We will never know (nor should we) of those who could not participate in Mary Schoeser’s book project (due to a variety of reasons) as distinct from those who wanted to be included, but who Mary Schoeser determined would not fit within any of her themes. The mystery of "absence" is what makes this book so much more intriguing to the professional fiber artist, who shares somewhat with Mary a broad and comprehensive perspective of the field.

Art books can fail to sell because of their pricing and poor production. Neither one applies to this tome - yes it is a tome. I am amazed that so many images from a vast array of different sources reproduced so well in this publication. Nevertheless, in a few instances the juxtaposition of images on a crowded space has taken away the dramatic effect of each component image of a textile. You have to understand that for 30 years I was employed as a graphic designer and so undoubtedly I am hyper-critical on this score. Overall, the production team should be extremely proud of this book.

The book concludes with Notes, Further Reading, Resources and an Index. Even the rear end of the book provides a wealth of further information for exploration. Its aim is to substantiate your learning experience.

Mary Schoeser has stated that her aim is ” inspire textile artists, those who are new to collecting, and those whose choices will shape the future of textile arts”. She surely has done that - and more! A friend of mine, who is featured in the book remarked: “I'd rather be a player than a non-player”. That speaks volumes about the standing Mary Schoeser has amongst her peers.

Every textile student should have a copy of her book since it will help shape his or her creativity in textile arts and crafts. The past and present is what is showcased in the book, but it is the possible futures that she has stitched into the veins of her book that will make it a lasting contribution.

It sits proudly in my library among some of the finest books on textiles that I possess!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Versace – Retrospective 1982-1997
Wearable Art

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Wearable art surfaces in many forms: it finds itself in one-off creations that resonate and informs a public consciousness of what could be; it surfaces in productions such as in film, opera, musicals, theatre, and ballet etc.; it is witnessed on cat walks in the hallowed halls of haute couture (see the Devil Wears Prada). It does not even have to be wearable in that it can be a miniature in form (see miniature Kimono’s) but it nevertheless must represent or project the image of a wearable item. It is not art since the act of engagement is distorted by the presence and shape of the wearer and on how our consciousness, sub-consciousness or prejudices react to the body that wears it.

Devil Wears Prada.

Haute couture is a trickle down phenomenon. At the very top, only the rich can afford what is being paraded but at the very bottom - it morphs itself as mass produced wearables for the public at large in discount stores such as Target etc. Hence it transforms our notion of morality (e.g. mini skirts in which underwear maybe exposed or short cut jeans so low that the top of the buttocks are evident etc.); our notion of sensuality (e.g. cleavage, and evening gowns with leg long slits); our notion of equality (e.g. jeans and tea shirts for both sexes being standard apparel); our notion of beauty (e.g. thin is in etc.)

What is exposed when she bowls the ball in her low hipsters? No wonder the bowling alleys are so empty and the crowd is right behind her (sorry about the puns).

These notions created by haute couture are ephemeral – they are only valid if accepted by the public at large. There were so many collections that in hindsight were forgettable and so few that were transforming. The transforming collections steered the public into a direction that their unconscious state was willing and so unafraid to tread. For example, fundamental Muslim, Hindu and Christian States would have notions of morality, sensuality, equality and beauty at variance with the present notions offered by haute couture. Hence in the “internet age”, they greatly fear haute couture images that invade across their borders. They wish to censor and control the information/image flow in order to prevent dissent about "their" notions of morality, sensuality, equality and beauty.

A court hearing to decide the fates of hundreds of children seized from a polygamist retreat in Australia. Members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints arrive at court. Courtesy of Sydney Moring Herald (April 18th 2008).

In haute couture, Gianni Versace wanted fashion to be alluring, and so to create a conscious state of desire, thereby substituting lust with more sober attitudes of correct behavior and social calibration. Like Toulouse-Lautrec, who used the streetwalker as the ideal model in the 1880s and 1890s, Versace used the prostitute as an idea, not to moralize, but to extract a tantalizing vulgarity, sexuality and sensuality that would render his wearable art appropriate for a woman like Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman (1990) – a woman that transcended her profession to be tantalizingly desirable and so became fascinating and moreover in the process - stylish.

Vivan Ward (Julia Roberts) in - Pretty Woman.

Gianni Versace was hired by “Complice” to design their leather and suede collections. After a few years he was encouraged to present his first signature collection for women at the Palazzo della Permanente Art Museum of Milan. His first menswear collection followed in September of the same year. He soon joined Jorge Saud (who would later also become a partner with Giorgio Armani), and the first Versace boutique was opened in Milan’s Via della Spiga in 1978. Versace was an instant hit, and so his clothing designs soon appeared in boutiques around the world. He was openly gay.

Gianni Versace (1946 – 1997)
He was killed by Andrew Cunanan on 15th July 1997.

This post is based on a wonderful exhibition, which was shown at the National Gallery of Victoria (Australia) in December of 2000. Accompanying this exhibition was a wonderful book from which the contents and images of this post were procured – R. Martin, Gianni Versace, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Distributed by Harry N. Abrams Inc. New York (1998). This post will only contain some of his creations for women only.

Versace – Retrospective 1982-1997
Versace is not every body's cup of tea. Some find his fashion excessively hedonistic or as celebratory driven glitz. However, it is not surprising to read more sober assessments of his fashion direction namely, he was defining the more modern western woman – confident of her sexuality, sensuality and independence, and so no longer shackled to pregnancy, guilt or assigned gender roles by religious groups. His references at the time of creating his fashion, was not generally acceptable in haute couture – leather, denim, brash prints, and metal mesh. He was the post-Freudian, a post birth control designer – he accepted sex, not just as a fact of life, but as a celebration of life. His creations appears so tame in hindsight.

Central to Versace’s work is his acute understanding that fashion is a platform for wearable art. His inspirations from object art and film re-charge into fashion a vibrancy, an urgency of life that was to be fully lived and enjoyed without regrets.

Evening Gown (ca. 1992).
Brown, white and gold leopard printed and baroque-pattern printed silk microfaille with beaded shoulders with bead straps.
Courtesy of Gianni Versace Archives.

Day Ensemble (Fall-Winter, 1991-1992).
Black silk twill printed with gold baroque motifs.
Courtesy of Gianni Versace Archives.

Evening Ensemble (Spring – Summer, 1996).
Zebra-printed synthetic stretch mesh, yellow and black, leopard-printed silk.
Courtesy of Gianni Versace Archives.

Evening Gown (Spring – Summer, 1994).
Black silk with silver and gold-tone metal safety-pin ornaments.
Courtesy of Gianni Versace Archives.

Day Dress (ca. 1984).
Polychrome-striped silk.
Gift of Marilyn Linzer (1996).

Evening Gown (1987 - 1988).
Black metallic mesh with rhinestone and re-embroidered cotton lace trim.
Gift of Gianni Versace (1993).

Sleeveless Evening Gown (1991).
Partially beaded silk twill printed with polychrome images of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean.
Courtesy of Gianni Versace Archives.

Strapless Evening Dress (1989).
Polychrome beaded and embroidered black synthetic mesh.
Courtesy of Gianni Versace Archives.

Evening Gown (1984 - 1985).
Black metal mesh with gold and copper design motif.
Courtesy of Gianni Versace Archives.

Byzantine Halter Ensemble (1991 - 1992).
Polychrome beaded and embroidered black leather, black silk satin, and chiffon.
Courtesy of Gianni Versace Archives.

Suit (1991 - 1992).
Polychrome-printed silk velvet.
Gift of Anne H. Bass (1993).

Sleeveless Evening Dress With Panniers (Spring-Summer, 1988).
Polychrome floral-printed silk.
Courtesy of Gianni Versace Archives.

Evening Gown With Asymmetrical Draping And Gathering (1997 - 1998).
Pink silk jersey.
Courtesy of Gianni Versace Archives.

Evening Dress (Spring – Summer, 1982).
Beaded and printed blue silk chiffon.
Courtesy of Gianni Versace Archives.

Evening Tank Dress (Spring-Summer, 1996).
Black synthetic net with black leather appliques and beading.
Courtesy of Gianni Versace Archives.

Sarong Ensemble (Spring - Summer, 1989).
Beaded black synthetic net and hand painted brown silk velvet.
Courtesy of Gianni Versace Archives.

Jumpsuit (Spring – Summer, 1991).
Silk and synthetic net with allover polychrome heading in Vogue magazine motif.
Courtesy of Gianni Versace Archives.

Bathing Ensemble (Spring - Summer, 1994).
Purple and polychrome paisley-printed Nylon stretch jersey.
Gift of Gianni Versace (1996).

Evening Slip Gown (Fall - Winter, 1996 - 1997).
Fuchsia cotton lace studded with rhinestones.
Courtesy of Gianni Versace Archives.

Theatre Ensemble (1987).
Hand painted and appliqued silk.
Courtesy of Gianni Versace Archives.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Printmaking - An Ever Expanding Artistic Universe
ArtCloth: MSDS Technique in IMPRINT

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

This blogspot is not only devoted to ArtCloth and all things fabric (e.g. wearables) but also to limited edition prints on paper and artists' printmakers books. I have listed below for your convenience my contribution to this artistic genre.

Made to Order
Unique State (Partners in Print)
Wangi's Djiran:"Unique State" Prints
Veiled Curtains
A Letter to a Friend
Beyond the Fear of Freedom
Travelling Solander Project
Star Series
Cry for the Wilderness
Federation on Hold - Call Waiting
Wish You Were Where?
The Four Seasons

This post is about a printmakers' journal called "IMPRINT" and my article in the March / Autumn issue of the journal.

IMPRINT is the Australian voice of printmakers. The journal generally features: reviews, reports on national and international conferences/museums etc., articles on residencies as well as articles on the work of various printmakers. The main focus of the March / Autumn issue centers on "New Technologies And Alternative Media". The article written by the journal editor, Sue Forster, gives the body of this issue its definitive direction, namely - that printmaking is a continually expanding field.

March / Autumn Issue: IMPRINT Vol. 48 No. 1, 2013.
Cover image by Eleanor Gates-Stuart.
MAGICal B, 2012.
Cover: Eleanor Gates-Stuart is a CSIRO Science Art Fellow. MAGICal B was created for StellrScope: the Centenary of Canberra’s Science Art Commission — The image is a reference to CSIRO Multi-parent Advanced Generation Inter-Cross (MAGIC) research into the identification of genes in the parenting of plants.
Technique and Size: Inkjet on paper, 90 x 60 cm.
Courtesy of IMPRINT.

Printmaking has from its inception been a democratic process due to the following.
(i) Its versatility - from commercial to graphic art to fine art traditions.
(ii) Its acceptance as an art form - from the 1960s to the present, the output of the printing making process is judged on its artistic merit alone.
(iii) Its low cost - printmaking generates art that is readily accessible, marketable, collectable and affordable.
(iv) Its ease of use - printmaking offers to most a comparatively short journey from novice to mastery.
(v) Its learning traditions - printmaking offers formal and informal learning structures that are readily available to the public at large.
(vi) Its community - more expensive equipment items are accessible to members of printmakers' co-operatives/collectives or via public access to tertiary institutions.
(vii) Its audience reach - from mass produced political posters to commercial art advertising to street art to limited edition prints, its audience reach is not restricted by the design of the process.
(viii) Its venues of exposure - community co-operatives/collectives encourage both group and individual work as well as group or individual exhibitions. Moreover, they act as warehouses for the exchange of ideas and techniques.
(ix) Its adaptability - from digital to cloth to all kinds of different media such as porcelain, printmakers have transferred and transformed their art using traditional and non-traditional media with ease.
(x) Its societal framework and network - printmakers very early in the historical development of their artistic process organized themselves into societies in order to give voice to their art and to promote the future development of printmaking. These societies produce journals and web sites to disseminate information and moreover, offer informed opinion. They also offer an informal international network.

It is no wonder that printmaking has expanded into so many artistic voids. The March / Autumn issue of IMPRINT traces some of the most recent expansion areas in the printmaking evolution. The March / Autumn issue and back issues of IMPRINT can be purchased from the "PCA: IMPRINT".

A Brief Vignette History of the Print Council of Australia
The "Print Council of Australia (PCA)" was formed in 1966 by a group of artist printmakers from the Working Men’s College - a forerunner to the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

RMIT's Coat of Arms

In 1881 Francis Ormond offered £5,000 pounds towards the establishment of a Working Men's College if the general public was prepared to contribute a like sum. With the help of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council, which levied its member unions, the money was raised and the college opened its doors in June of 1887. In 1934 it changed its name to the Melbourne Technical College and in 1954 it became the first Australian tertiary education provider to be awarded royal patronage by Elizabeth II. It officially change its name in 1960 to the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT)

Portrait of Francis Ormond.

The history of the Print Council of Australia has been lucidly documented by Professor Diana Davis.

Banner of PCA.

Briefly, in 1951 Harold Freedman a Senior Lecturer in Art at the Working Men’s College, called a meeting of practising artists’ and presented the argument that the graphic arts was in an embryonic stage in Australian art scene and so artists would “… benefit immensely by learning this type of art”.

Construction of Front Section of the Working Men's College.

As a result, a number of notable Australian artists - such as Leonard French – formed a printmaker group in order to acquire skills and techniques to use the equipment in the Print Room at the Working Men’s College. The group became - ”The Melbourne Graphic Artists” - a loose group created for the purpose of holding exhibitions such as in 1954, 55, 56 and subsequent years.

The National Gallery of Victoria's Great Hall, created by Leonard French.

Over the years a number of similar groups emerged in Melbourne and it was these groups that provided the basis from which the Print Council of Australia was to emerge. In 1965 a preliminary meeting was chaired by Dr Ursula Hoff and attended by Janet Dawson, Udo Sellbach, R Haughton James, Franz Phillipp, Fred Williams, Tate Adams, Jan Senbergs, Noel Counihan, Fred Everill, John Reed, and Grahame King. At that meeting Grahame King was asked to act as Interim Secretary. Ultimately this led to the formal launch of the Print Council in 1966. King’s vision and strength led to the establishment of a properly constituted society run by an elected council.

Currently the Print Council of Australia is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to Australian printmaking. It provides a number of services to the Australian community, some of which include:
* Support and advocacy for Australian contemporary artists and in particular emerging artists;
* Organization and management of a print subscription program with prints available for purchase by mail order;
* Opportunities for artists and information on awards, scholarships and residencies;
* The conservation of the history of Australian contemporary printmaking via its print archive, which includes all the prints commissioned by the Print Council since it was established in 1966 (currently totals over 300 prints).
* IMPRINT magazine with an estimated readership of 3500 per issue;
* Membership services to over 1350 subscribers including schools, libraries, public art museums, art galleries, tertiary institutes as well as individual artists and print enthusiasts locally and internationally.

The PCA's print archive is now in the State Library of Victoria collection. It also commissions prints for sale to the public at large.

A Brief Vignette History of IMPRINT
The history of its journal – IMPRINT – has also been well documented by Sue Forster.

PCA Imprint Banner.

Sue Forster divided the history of the journal into five periods.

1966-1973: Its early history saw it emerge as a newsletter of the provisional committee of the PCA. Under the editorship of Udo Sellbach it mainly concentrated on teaching members about different print techniques. It retained the same format (i.e. single double-sided A4 sheet that was folded in the middle to make four black and white pages) for nearly eight years.

IMPRINT Vol. 1 No. 1, 1966.
Cover image: The Printing Press, 1520.
(Press Mark of Badius Ascensius).
Woodcut after Albrecht Dürer.
Courtesy of IMPRINT.

1974-1981: In 1974 IMPRINT underwent its first radical change when the second issue was redesigned as “…an eight-page A4 journal on heavier paper stock and given a new cover banner”. Articles began to center on the profiles of individual Australian artists. In 1981, IMPRINT had financial support from the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council and PCA membership had more than doubled from 380 in 1975 to 876 in 1981. From 1980 to 1981 IMPRINT was edited variously by Alison Frazer, Suzanne Davies, Elizabeth Cross and Roger Butler.

IMPRINT Vol. 16 No. 4, 1981.
Cover image by George Baldessin.
Untitled Figure, 1973.
Etching, edition of 5.
21. 5 x 16.5 cm.
Courtesy of IMPRINT.

1982-1990: In the early 1980s, the font on IMPRINT’s banner changed several times, finally adopting in 1984 a handwritten appearance. Under the leadership of Roger Butler, the PCA and IMPRINT attracted state and federal grants, as well as private donations. From 1986 IMPRINT editors - Maggie Mackie and Roger Butler - set an innovative approach that would be its hallmark for decades to come. For example, in 1986 it had its first color cover that moreover, illustrated an Aboriginal print, heralding the first of its many thematic issues. The magazine’s size was 28 pages in length. In 1986, IMPRINT carried Lilian Wood’s obituary for Noel Counihan, a founder of the PCA.

IMPRINT Vol. 21 Nos. 3-4, 1986.
Cover image by Johnny Bulun Bulun.
Goonoomoo, 1983.
Lithograph, 56 x 37.8 cm.
Collection: National Gallery of Australia.
Courtesy of IMPRINT.

1990-1992: The early 1990s saw doubts expressed about the PCA's viability. To strengthen its national profile, the PCA adopted a policy of appointing different guest editors for each issue, which continued until the end of 1993. Whilst the early issues lacked continuity, this policy nevertheless resulted in a stronger focus on national news and issues.

IMPRINT Vol. 25 No. 2, 1990.
Cover image by Mike Parr.
Optic Iland,1990.
Drypoint, 108 x 78 cm.
Printer: John Loane.
Courtesy of IMPRINT.

1993-2003: In 1993 PCA Executive Director Di Waite was given the role of Managing Editor. The magazine’s format stabilized and it has changed only marginally in style over the last decade. By 1997 the magazine made an important transition into the digital era. 1n 1999 a new banner was introduced in order to reflect the PCA’s decision to include all art on paper: artists’ books, digital art and paper art as well as printmaking.

IMPRINT Vol. 32 No. 3, 1997.
Cover image by Jan Davis.
Fan 3 from the Principles of Chi, 1996.
Iris print, 8.5 x 17 cm.
Photographer: Chris Meager.
Courtesy of IMPRINT.

2003 - In 2003 Sue Forster became editor of IMPRINT. She has given the journal a more lively engagement between its artistic content, the ever expanding field of printmaking, historical and contemporary printmakers and its readership.

I have asked Sue to give a statement about her team and the contemporary direction of the journal. I want to thank her for taking time out from her busy schedule in order to write this.

"Given how much we take commercial digital printing for granted now, it seems remarkable that my appointment as editor of IMPRINT, only 10 years ago, was back in the labour-intensive dark ages of analogue. Within three years, as our printer shifted completely to digital, the whole production process was streamlined, resulting in cost savings and increased colour printing and magazine size. The Print Council's membership has since grown by nearly one third; we also retail IMPRINT in a small number of gallery and printmaking shops.

As IMPRINT editor, I work as part of a team. The Print Council’s committee officially determines editorial policy and a small steering committee meets occasionally to discuss forthcoming themes. Former IMPRINT editor Marian Crawford has been an important long-term contributor to this process. Georgia Thorpe, IMPRINT’s Advertising Manager, ensures that we raise sufficient advertising revenue to cover costs and Kerry Aker (Desktop Publishing) is responsible for design.

During my time as editor I have tried to increase the range and scope of articles and news items in IMPRINT, taking the view that the Print Council's members and networks are its lifeblood and that everyone has a story to offer. As well as our themed articles, we publish artist profiles, exhibition and book reviews, technical articles, studio news, articles about print and artists’ book collections, as well as occasional historical articles. When there is insufficient space to run a feature article, IMPRINT’s news and calendar sections are always available for short news and calendar items, and sometimes an image as well."

If you would like to share information about a print project or exhibition that you are working on, please contact Sue Forster via email ( Sue's Email ) or phone (+61 3 9416 0150 or in Australia 0394160150).

My Contribution To The March Issue of IMPRINT
My article centers on the description of the MutliSperse Dye Sublimation (MSDS) technique as well as illustrating the process. It also gives a glimpse of what can be achieved using the technique. Although IMPRINT do allow artists/writers to post their articles to their own blogs/websites if they request, the policy of this blogsite is to defer such opportunities since the March / Autumn issue of IMPRINT should be viewed holistically in order to appreciate its full impact. Nevertheless, there are numerous posts on this blogspot about the MSDS technique, some of which I have listed below for your convenience.

My MSDS Demonstration@Zijdelings
When Rainforests Ruled
Wangi’s Djirang
Merge and Flow
Flames Unfurling
Selected Disperse Dye ArtCloths

If you want to purchase this issue of the journal, it is available on-line at: "Back issues of the journal". Alternatively, you may wish to join the PCA and so receive copies of IMPRINT via your subscription membership. Either way, the journal is an enjoyable read.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Silk Designs of the 18th Century - Part I

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

For your convenience, I have listed below other post in this genre:
Woven Textile Designs In Britain (1750 to 1763) - Part II
Woven Textile Designs in Britain (1764 to 1789) - Part III
Woven Textile Designs in Britain (1790 to 1825) - Part IV
19th Century Silk Shawls from Spitalfields

The English silk industry had its origins in the production of ribbons and half silks woven in London from the 16th century. The enormous growth in the weaving of pure silks came in the second half of the 17th century due to market stability, which resulted because of the end of the Civil Wars and also from demand from the American Colonies for consumers goods. The silk industry moved from City of London to a suburb - Spitalfields.

A rare photograph shows a Spitalfields weaver’s workshop, taken in June 1885.
Courtesy of the Hamlets Local History Collection.

Although it developed its own individual character, woven silk design in England always had to compete with changes in fashion and technical advances in Lyon France in order to gain market share.

A rare illustration of shows a Spitalfields weaver’s loom, drawn in June 1885.
Courtesy of the Hamlets Local History Collection.

The 18th Century designs and woven silks have been acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum over a period of more than one hundred years, and so witnessed the development of the English silk industry.

The Victoria and Albert Museum, is the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects.

In 1991 the museum acquired from Vanners Silks Ltd - a group of ninety-seven silk designs, mostly by James Leman, which had been on loan to the museum for a number of years. The museum also acquired from the textile firm of Warners, a total of 25 pattern books, thirteen of them containing 18th and early 19th Century woven silks. The Warner Archives was further substantiated from acquisition of archives of firms that Benjamin Warner took over in the late 19th Century.

The stylistic developments during the first half of the 18th Century are evident in the outputs of such designers as James Leman, Anna Maria Garthwaite, Christopher Baudouin and Joseph Dandridge.

This post contents and images have been largely procured from a wonderful tome – Silk Designs of the Eighteenth Century, Ed. C. Browne, Thames and Hudson, London (1996). It should be part of your library.

Anna Maria Garthwaite
Anna Maria Garthwaite moved to London with her widowed sister Mary in 1730, and lived in Spitalfields until her death in 1763. There is no obvious explanation as to how or why she obtained artistic and technical training to equip her as a successful silk designer.

She worked as a freelance designer, producing designs for both master weavers and mercers. She was prolific, producing as many as eighty designs in a year. Her patterns – before she arrived in London – show her experimenting with different styles, and some may have been intended for embroidery or lace – but the careful indication of a repeat on several of the early designs, proves they were meant to be woven.

On arrival in London she quickly understood that her designs should be tailor made for particular types of fabrics and so she grouped her work into: gold stuffs, brocades or damasks.

The late 17th and years of the 18th Century had seen a fashion for extreme and unnatural patterns in silks. As the years progressed, richer silks were more luxuriant, with their semi-naturalistic flowers entwined around gold scrolls on grounds of silver and gold.

In 1732 a revolution in silk design in France brought a totally new inspiration, as designers turned away from surface texture to the depiction of three-dimensional form. One designer in particular Jean Revel, introduced a method of shading, called points rentres, whereby tones of color were dovetailed in weaving to extraordinary effect. Colors were bold and there large areas of plain silk to set off the designs. Anna Maria Garthwaite possessed a number of French designs from the 1730s in her own collection.
Silk design by Anna Maria Garthwaite (ca. 1726 – 1727).

Silk design by Anna Maria Garthwaite (ca. 1730).

Silk design by Anna Maria Garthwaite (before 1730).

Silk design by Anna Maria Garthwaite (ca. 1732).

Silk design by Anna Maria Garthwaite (ca. 1732).

James Leman
James Leman was born into a weaving family of Huguenot decent. James Leman was apprenticed in 1702 to his father. Leman trained as a designer as well as a manufacturer.

The museum’s earliest designs of James Leman are dated from 1706, just four years after the start of his apprenticeship. In 1711 he was admitted as “Foreign Master” to the Weavers Company and in 1712 on his fathers death he took control of the family business.

As well as producing his own accomplished designs, Leman engaged other designers such as Christopher Baudouin and Joseph Dandridge, both well known in their day. The latest known designs by Leman are dated 1722, although part of the canopy used at George II’s coronation in 1727 was supplied by the mercer George Binckes, known to have brought designs from Leman.

James Leman in 1706-1707 showed in his silk designs the characteristics of unnatural patterns - with elongated patterns, motifs both strange and familiar of different scale juxtaposed and elements of chinoiserie and japonaiserie. Their strong reds and yellows are color codes for different types of metal thread. From the early 1710s Leman’s increasingly sophisticated work shows more bizarre motifs retreating from his designs, while the designs still retained their strong sense of movement and their various elements from interconnecting layers of increasing elaboration.

By 1720 a particular style had developed, which came to dominate silk designs for the next decade. It comprised of an elaborate framework with a point (mirror) repeat, which gave an air of formality even to very light and delicate patterns.
Silk design by James Leman (1706/1707).

Silk design by James Leman (1709).

Silk design by James Leman (1710).

Silk design by James Leman “taken from a Dutch stuff” (1711).

Silk design by James Leman “taken from a Dutch stuff” (1717).

Christopher Baudouin
Christopher Baudouin was described as the first silk designer who brought the flowered silk manufacture in credit and reputation within England. He was a Huguenot refugee, possibly from Tours, and was active in London from the 1680s. He was naturalized in 1709.

His earliest extant design, dated 1707, was to be woven by Lemans for Mathew Vernon, a mercer with a royal appointment. His 1720s designs are more delicate, accomplished but still highly fashionable. His designs were collected by Garthwaite and held in her collection among her “…patterns by Different Hands”. It is estimated he had died some time before 1736.

Silk design by Christopher Baudouin (1707).

Silk design by Christopher Baudouin (1718).

Silk design by Christopher Baudouin (1723-1724).

Joseph Dandridge
A silk designer by profession, Joseph Dandridge was also a distinguished botanist, entomologist and ornithologist. He was born in Buckinghamshire in 1665 and came to London as an apprentice in 1679. The extant silk designs that can be attributed to him, commissioned by James Leman, date from between 1717 and 1722. He was a silk designer for almost forty years. He had the reputation of being good at designing damasks, while the patterns he prepared for Leman were for the richest silks, to be executed chiefly in gold and silver thread. He may have continued as a silk designer into the 1730s, when he had as his pupil John Vansommer, who would become a distinguished silk designer in his own right. Dandridge died in 1746.

Silk designed by Joseph Dandridge (1707).

Silk designed by Joseph Dandridge (1718).

Silk designed by Joseph Dandridge (1718).

Silk designed by Joseph Dandridge (1707).

Silk designed by Joseph Dandridge (ca. 1734).