Koel –

Nov 12, 2007 | Leave a Comment

After yesterday’s news-inspired post I thought of Pakistan — and the fact that I don’t really know what textiles are unique to the area, etc. Ah, the joys of internet research! With a few keywords I came upon the beautiful website of Koel, a company founded by Noorjehan Bilgrami — described on the site as an “artist, textile designer and researcher” who has helped revive handblock fabric printing in Pakistan. Above are a few images from the site.

Red Robes –

Nov 10, 2007 | Leave a Comment

While the stories coming out of Burma / Myanmar for a short time six weeks ago were harrowing, the photos also caught my attention from a purely visual standpoint: color + fabric combined to communicate culture, religion and a cry for justice. Our own American culture is so fragmented, and clothing is so often used as an expression of fashion only – rather than belief – that photos like this speak to a collective unity of purpose that is largely unfamiliar to me. Irregardless, the images have inspired me to continue a look out for “textiles in the news” for future posts.

Japanese Boro Textiles –

Nov 9, 2007 | 5 Comments

Finding out about Japanese “Boro” textiles earlier this year was an exciting eye-opener for me — one of those moments when you’re reminded how different cultures can be wordlessly connected through the shared use (or even independent development of) similar visual motifs and artistic techniques. (Although I know many scholarly types warn that any cross-cultural comparisons are fraught with “eye of the beholder”-type danger.) I was able to see the 2002 (?) Whitney exhibition of quilts developed by the Gee’s Bend community in Alabama and was really into it at the time, although I now have more mixed feelings about the Gee’s Bend phenomenon, in part from seeing a documentary about the “discovery” of the quilts — their acceptance into and elevation by white culture, etc. (I’d love to find a really good critically written article about the subject). But that’s another topic altogether! What I’m really getting to is that in the same way I like many of the Gee’s Bends quilts I also like Japanese Boro textiles and am interested by the similarities between some of them — although I can only guess it’s completely coincidental. Above top: a Boro textile from Kathleen Taylor’s collection here in San Francisco. Below, a quilt by Lucy Mooney featured in The Quilts of Gee’s Bend (Tinwood Books).

Sarah Symes –

Nov 8, 2007 | 1 Comment

My last few postings have me on a fiber-artists bent, which led me to think back to a link I noted a few months ago on Sarah Symes, maker of “abstract contemporary textile art”. Above is an overall and detail shot of one of her pieces, “California Dream” as found on her website. I really like the orange and pink color combination! Whether a fair comparison or not, there’s a certain Gee’s Bend look to some of her pieces — but overall all her work seems to have a more painterly, rather than craft-based aesthetic.

Jon Eric Riis –

Nov 7, 2007 | Leave a Comment

The October 2007 issue of Interior Design magazine has a full-page detail (above, top) of one of Jon Eric Riis’ textiles (part of the collection of a homeowner in Austin). The feather motif is incredibly striking — and the whole piece seems to mix an unstructured contemporary sensibility with an almost medieval quality*, as if he blew up a detail found in an old tapestry and then made it three dimensional. You can see the scale of the work as it hangs on the far left hand side of the interior room shot. Click here to see more of his pieces at the Jane Sauer Gallery in Santa Fe.

*In an abstract way it reminds me of the Unicorn Tapestries at the Cloisters in NYC; detail below is from “The Unicorn is Found” (1495-1505), shown on the Metropolitan Museum’s website.

Crisp Shades on the Canal –

Nov 6, 2007 | Leave a Comment

Since visually so much of Venice is about beautiful decay, these crisp blue and white exterior window shades really caught my attention. They might be boring against a newer building but they stand out quite well here.

Fortuny Interior –

Nov 6, 2007 | Leave a Comment

Here’s the one and only postcard I purchased in Venice, showing an interior shot of the Palazzo Fortuny. The house-museum quality of the main floor was the most fun for me, especially seeing all of the crazy things Fortuny collected, in the tradition it seemed of curiosity cabinets kept centuries prior. I also really liked the long custom sofas (as shown above). There were at least two of them and the chance to actually sit down and relax in what was essentially the living room was really nice. I also like the sofa design independent of the setting — longer than a daybed, less structured than a sofa, relaxed but elegant. Below, another image of the museum I found online.

El Anatsui in Venice –

Nov 3, 2007 | 1 Comment

Venice was AMAZING of course and full of textiles, textures and the generally tactile! I’ll be posting more images soon but for now here are a few pictures of El Anatsui’s current exhibit at Palazzo Fortuny. One of the few descriptions I’ve found on-line refers to the piece as a “tapestry of empty tins”. The colors are reminiscent of an iridescent oil slick and the gathering and folding of the piece is absolutely evocative of cloth. I’ve seen El Anatsui’s work at the De Young Museum in San Francisco but don’t know much about him. In any case, he’s found an amazing way to create art out of what would otherwise be recycling at best!

Off to Venice –

Oct 18, 2007 | Leave a Comment


I’ve been so busy getting ready for a week-long trip to Venice that I’ve completely fallen behind on posting. There’s still no time now, as the cab will be here in under twenty minutes. I hope to return with lots of artistic and aesthetic inspiration! Here’s an image from a beautiful book, “Venice and the Islamic World 828-1797.”

Falling Into Fall –

Oct 11, 2007 | Leave a Comment

There was a heavy downpour in San Francisco last night, the sound of which added exponentially to the sense that it really is turning into Fall. This leads me inevitably to thoughts of enclosure, cooling temperatures and the need for warmth, both visually and physically. In a word: blankets. Above, a magazine clipping I’ve had in my stash for ages — don’t know where it’s from (although should start to make some notation when I tear things out). The long blanket style table cover is casual + sophisticated , and I love the masculinity of the stripe offset by the girlie lamp. Also, a blanket from toast.