Saturday, February 20, 2010

Inspirational Indigo

On Thursday I took some time out from the Ravelympic/Olympics and drove to Ballarat - just over an hour away - to collect Corrie from the station.
Some travel-knitting took place while I waited for her train to get in but I'll show you that tomorrow because this is going to be a pretty picture-heavy post.

Our mission was to find the Gold Museum and check out one of it's current exhibitions: early 20th century Chinese blue and white peasant embroideries from the Arnott-Rogers collection.

Having just spent a couple of hours on the train, Corrie was surprised to discover that a huge place like the Gold Museum didn't boast anywhere to get a cup of coffee.

Quel horreur!

so here's Ms Corrie not having a cup of coffee at the Gold Museum

Apparently these intricate embroideries were seen as having little value, especially compared to the Imperial silk embroideries and were never sold or traded.
They are almost unknown, even in China, coming as they did from a quite remote province.

Some of the motifs could easily have been confused with middle European work - maybe there was some migration of iconography along the Silk Route ?

and others were more identifiably Chinese

One aspect that was quite amazing was that these very, very fine threads and tiny, tiny stitches in fine hand dyed indigo cotton were used for simple household items and to decorate work clothing.

By the way, no flash photography allowed because of conservation issues - those light flares in the pics are from the exhibition lights and not my camera. Obviously, given the low light levels, the photos aren't as good as I would wish, but still, not too bad. You can get the general idea anyway.

These were valances for the traditional bridal bed

and here the same 14" wide cotton fabric has been joined in panels to make this bed covering. If you click to enlarge you can see how the seam goes through the motif.

We grabbed a quick pub lunch and then back on the road
because, if one is a quilter, one absolutely cannot go to Ballarat without a visit to Gail's Patchwork Emporium, where we could have grabbed a cuppa, but after some dodgy map-reading, the clock was against us.

a few teeny tiny purchases may have been indulged in

and just enough time left to drop Corrie back at the train, before wending my own way homewards for the 3pm pick-up

A bit of a rush to be sure, but a pleasant few hours hanging out with a friend is always good - especially a friend who likes blue and white as much as I do - even if she IS fixated on the lack of a coffee shop at the Museum !!!


Marcie said...

You might like to check out the textiles Alison brought back from China, seen at the AGM today - some are embroideries very similar to your pics

Jack said...

me to the 'rat and didn't give Sam and I a yell! :( Bad Susan, naughty Susan!

Jack said...

Hmmmm, the "you ca" part of my post seems to have gotten lost....

catsmum said...

Yes Jack, this is true [ hangs head ]
but limited time plus being with someone you and Sam don't know ... y'know?
Shall just have to come back - and maybe with a local guide I won't get lost every 5 minutes!

Alwen said...


I'd take that pattern book home with me in a heart beat.

Lynne said...

Lovely embroideries and some of them do look quite European. It just goes to show, it is a small world after all.

Jan said...

Lovely embroideries. Even without flash photos.

One thing I enjoyed about Canberra was that the places we went too all had coffee available. National Museum shop was not cheap and a bit ho-hum, possibly because they cater to lots of school excursions. No excuse really for very average food. All the others sold good coffee and cafe style food at reasonable prices.

throw said...

masterpieces really.This is very fine work of art in the best of fabric.Love the creativity.