Selvedge - Issue 17
INDULGE textiles to buy, collect or simply admire
13 Travel guide What to pack if you’re going places in your gap year 78 Object The latest fine textiles available direct from Selvedge
INDUSTRY from craft to commerce
15 Miscellany Cotton, a low moral fibre 24 Teacher’s pet The UK’s best courses and graduates 25 Alternative route Aim high but don’t be surprised if you’re blown off course
ANECDOTE textiles that touch our lives
42 Lost wax method The complicated history of authentic Dutch wax resist fabrics
CONCEPT textiles in fine art
Life is sweet
REVEL IN COLOUR AND LIGHT
Salvador, capital of Bahia, was a centre of sugar cultivation from the 16th to
the 18th centuries. The city’s ornate architecture and baroque churches resplendent in gold decoration were spun from the money made from the plantations. The vibrant cultural life of Salvador is also the legacy of thousands of African slaves who passed through Brazil’s colonial ports. The Lei Áurea or ‘Golden Law’ abolished slavery, but not its associated problems, on 13 May 1888 and there were celebrations on the streets. The population of Bahia certainly know how to celebrate. Afro-Brazilian dance and music traditions capoeira, samba and candomblé come alive during carnival. We capture the colour and spontaneity of a street party with clothes fashioned from household linen. Embroidered tablecloths become a skirt and doilies were stitched to a valance resulting in an apron – have your cake and wear it.
36 In a word Effie Mae Howard; the woman behind the quilts 44 Lush life El Anatsui, textiles and the gin trade
Photography by Fedor Van der Valk
ATTIRE critical reporting of fashion trends
16 Life is sweet Revel in the colour and light of Bahia
When one thinks of a tumbleweed, an image of a quiet, dusty road in Texas may come to mind. For Susan Hable though, it becomes a delicate form that beautifully branches across woven fabric like coral from the sea. Drawn by her, then translated onto fabric, this form shows what she and her sister Katharine of Hable Construction do best. They distill their past and turn it into their future.
It all began when they named their textile design company after the road building business their grandfather founded in Texas in the early 20th century. Hable Construction, to many, now means vibrant fabrics and utilitarian products built to last, just like their grandfather's roads. Since 1998, the Hable sisters have combined the best of their talents, fusing backgrounds in art and in business. Based in New York, Hable Construction has become a refreshing voice in the United States’ textile industry – one that nods to the old, by utilizing screenprinting techniques and New England weavers, and also one that looks to the new, in their translation of every day inspirations into bright patterns and purposeful objects. Hable aims to work as often as possible with local craftsmen, printers, and seamstresses. The maker's hand is evident in all of Hable's designs, beginning with Susan's artwork. It may then be seen in a handsewn tote, or a leather handle made by a saddlery in their hometown in Texas, or even in a fabric covered horseshoe. This process creates a sense of community and camaraderie that reflects the girls' southern upbringing. Susan and Katharine are always on the lookout for the friend who can sew, the person who can source the horseshoes, or the mother who can quilt. You never know when you might need someone or something. You also might not know where you will find one. Another trait of their Hable aesthetic is the sense of the aged and worn, “the authentic”, often inspired by visits to flea markets with their mother or close friends. Treasures from these excursions inspire future product designs. Products that reflect the girls' belief that utilitarian objects could, and should, be beautiful. In the Hable world, a campstool multipurposes as a table, or a garden belt works double duty as a purse. These items have become the backbone for their Hable Construction retail store located in Manhattan's West Village. The space acts as a laboratory for new designs while helping to define the company's aesthetic: a little worn, a little whimsical, colourful, bold, and always unexpected. Here, Katharine and Susan integrate Hable
28 City limits New fashion capitals
COHABIT stunning interiors beautifully photographed
40 Poetry in motion Dancer turned dyer Mariem Besbes
50 Sister act The homely approach of Hable construction 55 Inprint Surface designers with depth
GLOBAL travel destinations and ethnographic textiles
32 Take flight South American feathered decorations 48 Tip top Ethiopian crocheted hats 60 Open your atlas Art classes in Morocco 96 Banner ad A party political broadcase on behalf of Ghana
The production techniques in this Sydney studio read more like the activities in a dungeon than those associated with a design studio. The fabrics in the Mistreated collection had to suffer to be beautiful, they have been bound, beaten, etched with acid, clamped, cooked, boiled and baked. The elegantly distressed surfaces and organic patterns that result, reflect the conditions and processes of their creation. Silks are waxy to the touch, linen and aluminum fibers appear cast, coated and metallic rather than textile. In the latest line ‘On Closer Inspection’ the geometric morphs into organic in striking natural patterns. Ilias, textiles wallpaper apparel, 1/87 Moore Street, Sydney, AUSTRALIA T: +61 (0)2 9572 6300 www.ilias.com.au Founded in 1986 by Liz Galbraith and Ephraim Paul,
this wife and husband team make everything to order. Designer Liz Galbraith nods to the Arts and Crafts movement, Japan and mid-20th-century Scandinavian textiles as her design sources. Galbraith & Paul fabrics are hand block printed in their studio on four different ground cloths – Shantung silk, cotton/rayon velvet, sheer and heavy linen. Philadelphia, the site of their studio has a strong tradition in the fabric arts. Their palette and patterns of this company recall mid-century modernity and draw on this history. Galbraith & Paul, 116 Shurs Lane, Philadelphia, USA T: +1 215 508 0800 www.galbraithandpaul.com
INFORM the latest news, reviews and exhibition listings.
04 bias / contributors 07 news Trends and essential ideas 84 read Florence Broadhurst 86 international listings Exhibitions, fairs and events 90 view Face of Fashion Radical Lace Magic Beauty from Africa Indigo RED 95 coming next The Island Issue: Simply relax and enjoy!. 93 stockists 80 subscription offers
In a word
THE WOMAN BEHIND THE QUILTS
Who was Effie Mae Howard? The woman behind the pseudonym Rosie Lee Tompkins (1936-2006) was a well-known African-American quilter who rose to become one of the most important modern American artists of our time. Tompkins' quilts were exhibited at the 2002 Whitney Biennial, New York and subsequently acquired by the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Oakland Museum, California, and private collections. A stellar solo show later that year at the Peter Blum Gallery, New York was hailed with enthusiasm by major art critics. “These quilts are works of such distinction and devotion,” Artweek critic Alison Bing wrote, “they supersede established art-historical categories, forcing reviewers to retreat to that dumbfounded admiration that attracted us to art in the first place.” “Writers have compared Tompkins,” said New Yorker reviewer Andrea Scott, “to canonical bigwigs like Mark Rothko, Joan Mitchell, and Alfred Jensen. But for all their affinities with modernist paintings, her quilts have a tactile allure and wobbly ecstasy unmatched by any canvas.” “Resolutely non-referential,” said Art in America critic, Eleanor Heartney, “Tompkins’ quilts bring to mind the efforts of early American modernists to forge a language of pure abstraction. That she does so with scraps of cloth instead of paint in no way diminishes her achievement.” Effie Mae Howard (Rosie Lee Tompkins) was intensely private. Lauded
The quilts are works of distinction and devotion...
with such critical praise, one would think she courted publicity or even sales, but for over twenty years Eli Leon, a quilt scholar, Guggenheim Fellow, and collector, had been her only conduit to the outside world. Although she had given quilts to family members and friends, most she kept for herself. At the time of her death, hundreds of patchworks and embroidered objects remained in her home, many still in progress. She allowed her quilts to leave her hands only when family situations necessitated the sale and even then only to her trusted co-conspirator, Leon. As the artist “Rosie Lee Tompkins”, she met only three people: curator Lawrence Rinder, Africanist Robert Farris Thompson, and historian Glenna Matthews. Effie Mae Howard was born in Arkansas to a sharecropping family for whom church, the land, and quilting held equal importance. In a large family with fourteen younger half-siblings, her childhood was spent picking cotton, helping her mother with chores, and piecing quilts. Howard moved to California in 1958 and lived with her family in Richmond until she died on December 1, 2006. Undeterred by her lack of a high school diploma, she enrolled in adult education classes and pursued nursing. Naturally friendly and outgoing, she enjoyed her job as a nurse in convalescent homes until the 1970s. She married twice and raised five children and stepchildren. During this period of intensely active family life, she did little or no patchwork. According to Leon, Howard had a nervous breakdown in the late 1970s. Hearing voices and believing her phone was tapped, she deeply craved peace
Possibly our finest ever subscription offer... A pretty Hable construction canvas apron worth $32 for every new subscriber and renewal plus the chance to win Henry Road table runners and Alpa Mistry cushions.