Dress & Textiles

Dress & Textiles

"From birth to death dress & textiles are the literal fabric of people’s lives. Born out of creativity or necessity, made by hand or machine, owned for luxury or functionality, we become linked to those that we make, own and use in the home, workplace and public space. The expertise in the field of dress and textiles in the College of Art is unique in the UK. Collaborations with our local, national and international partners in heritage bring new and refreshed perspectives." - Dr Anita Quye

Dress & Textiles in the College of Arts

There’s no escaping dress and textiles. From birth to death they are the literal fabric of people’s lives. Born out of creativity or necessity, made by hand or machine, owned for luxury or functionality, we become linked to those that we make, own and use in the home, workplace and public space. For centuries the skill and businesses of creating and selling fabrics and yarns has connected cultures, built empires, influenced economies worldwide, and reflected changes in technologies and the exchanges of ideas.

Dress and textiles appear in many collections in public and private museums and archives. Researching them from dyes and fibres to finished products brings a connected context and understanding of social, industrial, cultural, technical and political influences. The expertise in the field of dress and textiles in the College of Art is unique in the UK, covering archaeological to modern historical periods, economic, social and gender history, scientific analysis and conservation. Collaborations with our local, national and international partners in heritage bring new and refreshed perspectives for interpretation, recognition and recreation, and are influencing evolving policies for sustainable access and preservation.

One such example is ‘Dirty Stories’, a collaborative project with the National Trust for Scotland. By analysing dirt on textiles, we can help the NTS discover more about their collection whilst also deciding how the textiles should be conserved. In a different project, ReINVENT, we have contributed to the new galleries at National Museums Scotland about the textile manufacturing industry through our research and networks.

Throughout the coming month we will be featuring a range of expertise in dress and textiles and some projects where we are working in partnership with cultural and other organisations.  We would like to invite you to contribute your ideas and suggestions for building on and extending our links with non-academic partners. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

Text by Dr Anita Quye – Dress & Textiles Knowledge Exchange Theme Lead, Chair of Modern History (History)


View Anita's video on Dress & Textiles in the College of Arts

 

 

To learn more about Dress and Textiles, or to discuss developing a partnership with the College of Arts please contact Dr Fraser Rowan the College of Arts Business Development manager by email or phone (0141 330 3885).


Dress & Textiles KE Case Studies

Dress & Textiles KE Case Studies

Tapestry in the Round

A series of research workshops is bringing together the Scottish university and cultural heritage sectors in partnership around the topic of new directions in tapestry research. The importance of tapestry in domestic, stately and ecclesiastical interiors before the eighteenth century is well known, but all too often from the perspectives of single disciplines. ‘Tapestry in the Round’ exploits the happy coincidence of three developments in Scotland to establish a truly interdisciplinary network into textile history and conservation: the creation of the Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History (Glasgow University); a major new catalogue project at the Burrell Collection (Glasgow Museums); and growing research into the History of Material Culture in the School of Humanities at the University of Glasgow. The result will be greater public and scholarly understanding of some of Scotland’s most precious public treasures, but also a durable collaboration between two key elements of the public sector for future investigation of textile history and conservation.

Academic:

Frances Lennard

Project Partner:

Glasgow Museums, Glasgow Life


To learn more about this project or to discuss developing a partnership with the College of Arts please contact Dr Fraser Rowan the College of Arts Business Development manager by email or phone (0141 330 3885).

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Chinese Costume and Textile Dyes of the Ming and Qing Dynasty

Colour was a significant status symbol in the textiles of the Chinese imperial courts of the Ming and Qing dynasties, especially yellows and reds. Surviving examples of historical textiles from these dynasties in collections, including those of Glasgow Museums, raise questions surrounding their date, provenance and significance as well as the sensitivity of the dyes to light with implications for access and display. These can be answered by a better understanding of the historical reasons for the colour choices, the source of the dyes and the dyeing methods.

By combining complementary strengths of History of Art expertise in Chinese art history, scientific dye analysis and conservation science with curatorial expertise in East Asian collections at Glasgow Museums and twelve other museums  including V&A Museum, National Museums Scotland, Shanghai Museum, Chester Beatty Library, Shaanxi Institute of Archaeology as well as two private collections, this collaborative project takes a truly interdisciplinary approach  to trade, cultural influence and cultural exchange by drawing upon archival research, scientific analysis and reconstruction of historical practices. 

Project Partner: Glasgow Museums, Glasgow Life, Textile Conservation Foundation

Academics: Jing Han


To learn more about this project or to discuss developing a partnership with the College of Arts please contact Dr Fraser Rowan the College of Arts Business Development manager by email or phone (0141 330 3885).

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Dirty Stories

‘Dirty Stories’ is a collaborative exchange between experts in conservation science and conservation from the College of Arts with analytical chemical science experts at the University of Aberdeen.
The project aims to help curators and conservators make informed decisions about whether or not to remove sooty deposits on historical textiles. Sooty deposits can be invaluable evidence of the object’s maker or owner and its provenance, but can equally detract from the object’s appearance if they obscure informative details or, worse, cause degradation of the object.
The results of the collaborative research will be translated into practical, cost-effective solutions that heritage organisations like the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) can apply themselves.


Project Partner:

The National Trust for Scotland

Academics:

Dr Anita Quye, Karen Thompson


To learn more about this project or to discuss developing a partnership with the College of Arts please contact Dr Fraser Rowan the College of Arts Business Development manager by email or phone (0141 330 3885).

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Conservation of the Flag of the Formosa Republic

The Flag of the Formosa Republic, or the Tiger Flag, is in the collection of the National Taiwan Museum. It is a copy of one made in 1895, after the war between China and Japan, to mark the formation of a new Taiwanese republic; the original flag was sent to Japan following the subsequent Japanese invasion. This replica was made in Japan in 1909 for the new museum in Taipei.  Although only a copy of the original, as a tangible legacy of the short-lived republic the Tiger Flag is a cultural icon in Taiwan.
The National Taiwan Museum wished to display this highly significant artefact but it was in poor condition. The flag raised interesting questions: What was the significance of previous repairs? Was it originally blue as records suggested?  An expert in textile conservation from the University of Glasgow acted as a consultant to the investigation and conservation project, helping researchers to gain a better understanding of the flag’s history, and advising on conservation treatment so that the flag could be safely displayed.

Project Partner: National Taiwan Museum

Academic:

Frances Lennard Caroline Ness - PhD student


To learn more about this project or to discuss developing a partnership with the College of Arts please contact Dr Fraser Rowan the College of Arts Business Development manager by email or phone (0141 330 3885).

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Hand Knitted Textiles and the Economies of Craft in Scotland

Academic historians have been working to explore the place and significance of hand-knitted textiles to Scotland’s economy and culture: past, present, and future. This has been done in collaboration with external organisations such as the Shetland Museum and Archives, the Moray Firth Partnership (Gansey Project), and Jamieson & Smith, as well as individual designers, producers and artists.
With funding from the Royal Society of Edinburgh, academics ran three workshops (on wool, knitting and design) and a public study day at the Lighthouse in Glasgow, which drew together academics, practitioners, designers, makers, industry, creatives, heritage professionals and amateur knitters to talk about how Scottish hand knit traditions have been and are being adapted, produced and marketed in the modern age.

Project Partner: Shetland Museum and Archives

Academics:

Prof Lynn Abrams, Dr Marina Moskowitz



To learn more about this project or to discuss developing a partnership with the College of Arts please contact Dr Fraser Rowan the College of Arts Business Development manager by email or phone (0141 330 3885).

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The History of Hand-Knitted Lace in Shetland

In 2010, academics from the College of Arts were awarded an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award in collaboration with Carol Christiansen of Shetland Museum and Archives for a doctoral research project on the history of hand knitted lace in Shetland.
The research is being undertaken by Roslyn Chapman and has involved collaborations with collections and heritage organisations across Shetland and with community groups. The outcomes will include enhanced interpretation of the largest collection of knitted lace in the UK in Shetland museum and knowledge transfer between academics and knitters.

Project Partner:

Shetland Museum and Archives

Academics:

Prof Lynn Abrams, Dr Marina Moskowitz

 


To learn more about this project or to discuss developing a partnership with the College of Arts please contact Dr Fraser Rowan the College of Arts Business Development manager by email or phone (0141 330 3885).

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The History of Sanquhar Knit

Academics are collaborating with Fi Scott of MakeWorks, an independent design-led organisation that facilitates, celebrates and debates making, manufacture and craft in Scotland. The research into the history of Sanquhar knit designs (a distinctive two-coloured design) is supported by the Royal Society of Edinburgh and is the outcome of a series of workshops that brought together business, academics and knitters to discuss the relationship between the history of Scottish knitting traditions with present day developments in hand knitted textiles. Academics have interviewed knitters, collected patterns and artefacts and recorded artefacts for a digital archive. The project will culminate in a report, a digital collection and a public event.

Project Partner: Makeworks

Academics:

Prof Lynn Abrams, Dr Marina Moskowitz


 


To learn more about this project or to discuss developing a partnership with the College of Arts please contact Dr Fraser Rowan the College of Arts Business Development manager by email or phone (0141 330 3885).

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Jo Mattli and his contribution to the British fashion and textile industry

Mattli has been largely forgotten in the histories of dress of the twentieth century even though he was a major player in the London couture scene from World War II until the 1960s. The Fashion Museum in Bath has an archive of Mattli press books and drawings, and a small number of garments but very little was known about the collection. The researcher and the museum worked together in feeling that these interesting, rich resources warranted further evaluation in the context of the history of post-war British couture. As part of the PhD research, the garments have been catalogued and a database of the press books has been created, allowing greater access to these resources. The research has uncovered many details of Mattli’s couture business and analysing these has helped to put his work into context. The research will do a great deal to revive his reputation.

Project Partner:

Fashion Museum, Bath

Academic:

Frances Lennard


To learn more about this project or to discuss developing a partnership with the College of Arts please contact Dr Fraser Rowan the College of Arts Business Development manager by email or phone (0141 330 3885).

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Reconnecting and Recreating 19th Century Scottish Textile Manufacture

ReINVENT is an innovative interdisciplinary partnership between the College of Arts and National Museums Scotland (NMS) to enhance the display and interpretation of Scotland’s rich textile manufacturing heritage, including the inspirational new £12 million galleries for NMS’ Scottish Science and Technology and European Art and Design collections. It returns objects and archives to their forgotten contexts: how, when, where or why they were made, and the feats of technology this entailed.
ReINVENT unites the expertise of conservation scientists, curators, conservators, archivists, and historians. In a research collaboration between the College of Arts, School of Chemistry and the University’s Scottish Business Archive they are endeavouring to recreate the famous Turkey red dye.

Project Partner: National Museums Scotland

Academics:

Dr Anita Quye


To learn more about this project or to discuss developing a partnership with the College of Arts please contact Dr Fraser Rowan the College of Arts Business Development manager by email or phone (0141 330 3885).

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Metallic Threads of Famen Temple silk (618-874), Tang Dynasty, China

The Famen Temple in Shaanxi province was the royal temple during the Sui Dynasty (581-618) and Tang Dynasty (618-907). Treasures found in the excavation of the underground crypt in 1987 include fragile silk textiles dating from the Tang Dynasty.
In this project, metallic threads from this early period of Chinese Famen silk have been scientifically investigated in terms of their material, technology and structure.
This analysis is combined with an investigation of Chinese traditional manufacturing techniques of producing gold and silver wrapped threads, and compared with techniques still practiced today. Further research into technical categories and principles of metallic thread development is also underway. Experimental work on the ideal conditions necessary for the preservation of metal threads is ongoing.


Project Partner: Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, China

Academic:

Prof Nick Pearce

College of Arts contact:

arts-ke@glasgow.ac.uk

 


Militia Jacket: Uncovered and Conserved

A rare survival of an early nineteenth century militia jacket came to light as a result of research being carried out in preparation for an exhibition at the University of Glasgow’s Hunterian Art Gallery on Captain Laskey who was the author of the Hunterian’s first catalogue but was also a soldier in the Galloway Militia regiment.  The militia jacket found in the Dumfries collection was an example of the clothing worn by the Galloway militia and has generated much interest.

In collaboration with the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History, the Dumfries Museum staff arranged for the jacket to be conserved as it would provide an excellent learning experience for one of the final year MPhil Textile Conservation students.  Extensive research and documentation was carried out involving liaison with Dumfries Museum’s curatorial staff, the University of Glasgow’s conservation and research staff and National Museums of Scotland curators to build a picture of the jacket’s history to inform the conservation.  This interdisciplinary collaboration enabled a significant piece of material culture to be better understood and preserved for future study and display.

Images: Top right - before conservation. Above right - after conservation.

Project Partner: Dumfries Museum

Academic:

Karen Thompson, Liz Hancock
 


To learn more about this project or to discuss developing a partnership with the College of Arts please contact Dr Fraser Rowan the College of Arts Business Development manager by email or phone (0141 330 3885).

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ReCREATE: rediscovering the experimental culture of 19th century Scottish textile manufacture

Equipment, materials and documents from the design and manufacture of textiles in nineteenth century Scotland are being increasingly reconnected through historical reconstructions and re-enactments to enrich museum and archive exhibitions and highlight collection significance for preservation. Replicating and using the past tools of the trade from the Scottish designer, weaver, dyer and printer means rediscovering unrecorded tacit knowledge and experimental cultures not only within each specialist practice, but also across and between them within the wider context of an industrialising world. 

ReCREATE unites a core group of academics and practitioners in arts, humanities, sciences and engineering from Scottish HEIs, museums, archives and heritage trusts with researchers across Europe to share interdisciplinary knowledge in the designing and making of decorative textiles in nineteenth century Scotland. By interrogating and challenging perceptions and conceptions about communities and individuals in past cultures of information exchange and experimentation, new research and collaborative projects are taking shape for textile heritage reconstructions in interpretation and conservation. 

ReCREATE continues the innovative partnership between History of Art and National Museums Scotland (NMS), initiated by the knowledge exchange network ReINVENT, to enhance the display and interpretation of Scotland’s textile heritage, including the inspirational new £12 million galleries for NMS’ Scottish Science and Technology and European Art and Design collections.

Partner:
National Museums Scotland

Academic:
Dr Anita Quye


To learn more about this project or to discuss developing a partnership with the College of Arts please contact Dr Fraser Rowan the College of Arts Business Development manager by email or phone (0141 330 3885).

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The Crutchley Archive: assessing historical significance & the need for preservation

Textile dye houses of old were secretive, protected places where dyers learnt from each other through practice and in written instructions from masters of their trade. Thanks to descendants of the Crutchley family who owned and ran a dye company on the south bank of the River Thames 300 years ago, rare records from this era have survived. The collection includes sumptuous pattern books with samples of wool ‘topped’ with red from madder and cochineal dyes, dyeing recipes and instructions, and customer names and amounts of credit.

The Crutchley Archive was donated to Southwark Local History Library and Archive in 2011, and its historical significance and need for preservation was assessed in 2014 by the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Textile Conservation and Technical Art History. This established a collaborative partnership between the Southwark archivists and the University’s experts in textile history, dye analysis and textile conservation to understand and interpret the archive’s contents, and to make the archive more accessible while preserving the exquisite colours of dyed textiles protected from light for centuries.

The Crutchley archive is central in a multi-partner interdisciplinary project being developed by the University with researchers in The National Archive, University of Exeter, CNRS (France) and V&A to place its historical context with related material in other European collections.

Partner:
Southwark Local History Library and Archive, London

Academic:
Dr Anita Quye


To learn more about this project or to discuss developing a partnership with the College of Arts please contact Dr Fraser Rowan the College of Arts Business Development manager by email or phone (0141 330 3885).

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