Many members of TAASA are ‘textile addicts’. The first survey of TAASA members’ interests, conducted in 1991 just after the Society was founded, revealed that textiles ranked fourth among members’ interests then, after ceramics, painting and sculpture. Certainly the most regular and active TAASA focus groups are the textile ones, which function in both Sydney and Melbourne. In fact, TAASA’s textile study group in Sydney just celebrated 10 years of continuous existence with an appropriate party on 14 July, so an affectionate history of the group’s activities appears on pp.22-23 of this issue.
However, this issue of TAASA Review focuses on oriental rugs and other textiles principally because in September 2004 Australia is host country for the prestigious International Conference on Oriental Carpets, or ICOC Down Under 2004. This will be the first time this annual conference has been held in Australia - last year it was in Washington, DC, next year it will be in Spain. The conference is organised by the Oriental Rug Society (ORS) of New South Wales, in collaboration with the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, where the conference is being held.
In conjunction with the ICOC conference, the Powerhouse is presenting three separate but related exhibitions. The major show, Bright Flowers: textiles and ceramics from Central Asia, features stunning objects on loan from the State museums of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Its development involved co-curator Christina Sumner (a textile historian and a founding member of TAASA) in four visits to Central Asia, where she took the opportunity to research suzanis, the spectacular dowry embroideries of the region. Christina writes about these beautiful textiles and their contemporary creators in our lead article for this issue.
Also at the Powerhouse for the ICOC is Pathways through Paradise, a display of 50 rugs and textiles from Australian public and private collections (see cover image). Meanwhile, a third Powerhouse exhibition, Beirut to Baghdad: communities, collecting and culture, provides an opportunity to link objects from the Museum’s own collection with the lives of contemporary Arab- Australians, enhancing our understanding of a part of the world which is of increasing importance to us all. Serendipitously timed to coincide with ICOC and consequent influx to Sydney of rug and textile addicts is the magnificent show at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Celestial Silks:Chinese Religious and Court Robes. Co-curated by TAASA’s immediate past President, Jackie Menzies, and TAASA’s current president, Judith Rutherford, Celestial Silks demonstrates that textiles can undoubtedly rank among the great works of art. The exhibition has had world-wide coverage, and drew over 200 people to its associated seminar at the end of July, organised by TAASA.
Australian museums and galleries these days all have significant holdings of Asian textiles, the principal one, of course, being at the National Gallery of Australia, which initiated the magnificentSari to Sarong in 2003. In this issue, particular textiles from the Northern Territory and Victorian collections are discussed by their respective curators. There is no shortage of textile expertise among TAASA members, as this issue bounteously attests.
Like the Oriental Rug Society, which is organising the ICOC, TAASA is a non-profit, volunteer organisation. Both societies are kept afloat only by the dedication, participation and support of their members. TAASA congratulates the ORS for its work on ICOC Down Under 2004, the exhibitionPathways through Paradise and all other associated activities. We are very pleased indeed to be printing extra copies of this Rugs and Textiles issue of TAASA Review for provision to all attendees at the Conference.
You will see that a reminder about TAASA subscription renewal for 2005 is included in the mail out of this issue. Renew now, members, we need you! Or why not become a life member, and never worry about renewals or paying for events again?
3 EDITORIAL: RUGS AND TEXTILES - Sandra Forbes
4 SUZANIS FROM URGUT: CONTEMPORARY OBSERVATIONS - Christina Sumner
8 HOW I BECAME A CARPET ADDICT - Leigh McKay
10 KAITAG EMBROIDERIES IN AUSTRALIAN COLLECTIONS - Susan Scollay
13 IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN: TIMORESE TREASURES - Joanna Barrkman
14 LIONS UNDERFOOT - Heleanor Feltham
17 IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN: INDUS VALLEY QUILTS - Carol Cains
18 TEXTILES OF THE TAI MUONG - Russell Howard
22 FABRICS AND FRIENDSHIPS: TAASA’S TEXTILE GROUP TURNS TEN
24 TRAVELLER’S CHOICE: A GLORY OF GENEVA - Fiona Spencer
25 EXHIBITION: SILKEN STATUS SYMBOLS - Jackie Menzies
26 EXHIBITION: PARADISE AT THE POWERHOUSE - Ian Perryman
27 EXHIBITION: REORIENTING PERCEPTIONS OF THE ORIENT - Paul Donnelly and Alissar Chidiac
28 WHAT’S ON IN AUSTRALIA SEPTEMBER – NOVEMBER 2004
29 TAASA MEMBERS’ DIARY SEPTEMBER – NOVEMBER 2004
30 TAASA ACTIVITIES – REPORTS