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The new Textile Centre in Haslach,
the former Vonwiller Weaving Mill
In this issue, we return to a theme first addressed in detail in TF 3/94, “European Textile Regions”, and which has lost none of its topicality since: entire lines of production in the textile and clothing industry have been relocated outside Europe, leaving brownfield sites behind. Traditional skills fall into oblivion and when required may be unavailable for developing new product and process ideas. Fifteen years after publication of the above-mentioned article, even those in charge of still-operational textile centres realise that industry and trade must become allied with culture and education (see page 38€. All former, and currently active, textile regions face issues such as what to do with abandoned buildings, redundant skilled labour, disused machines, and provisionally stored documents of a dying production culture.
In a feature entitled “Mühlviertel Fabric Design”, published in TF 4/07, we reported on an exemplary initiative in Upper Austria, and learnt the following:
Ten years of endeavour by the municipality of Haslach, the state of Upper Austria and the European Union to revive a factory complex will be concluded in 2009, when a new Textile ∑entre opens in the
former Vonwiller weaving mill that once employed more than 2,000 people.
The future cultural centre will include a textile museum and a wool processing workshop for disadvantaged people, and will also house Textile Kultur Haslach, an association that organises major textile gatherings annually, offering courses, exhibitions, symposia and a weavers’ market.
Recent news is that the only remaining school for weaving technicians in Austria, based in Haslach, will be forced to close its doors due to a shortage of students. The organisers of the new Textile ∑entre must now address the questions of whether, and how, the school’s modern dobby and jacquard looms can be used for training programmes, based on the example of other countries.
Situated in the Austrian/∑zech/ German border triangle, the ∑entre will have a far-reaching impact on all those countries. Its staff hopes to help create an active network of European textile centres that will support creative, educational, conservation and tourist activities by means of joint ventures, and effectively strengthen structures in the respective textile regions.
Historical damask loom at the old Weaving Museum in Haslach
THE 15th ETN CONFERENCE 2009 Berlin was the original location planned for this event, but had to be abandoned at the preparatory stage due to insufficient response; consequently, the ETN Board decided to lend every possible support to the, currently very dynamic, initiative in Upper Austria, and to hold the ∑onference there. Another factor in the decision was the local TEXTIŽE KUŽTUR HASŽA∑H association which has been a member of ETN for many years, and is also an important station in the European Textile Routes published on the internet.
This year’s ∑onference is now scheduled in Haslach, which may seem like “the sticks” after Žondon, but is in fact a delightful holiday destination in a former flax growing region with a long textile industrial tradition. Moreover, it is a hub as regards current issues relevant to our field of interest, a cultural revival of old textile centres presenting new challenges to further education−
This issue gives space to several people who will be active in the forthcoming ∑onference as programme organisers, speakers or course instructors, and will act as contacts for international participants in these capacities.
Issue TF 3/94, mentioned earlier, contained a feature entitled “The Network of Textile Regions”, where we outlined five areas requiring regional work in culture; one discussed the need to establish a decentralised European summer academy offering a coordinated educational programme for professional textile and clothing designers, and covering all major cultural and technological developments that exist in specific European regions. Žike so many other essential projects, it has not been possible to provide such a, jointly organised, educational programme to date, due to local or regional patriotism in people’s mentalities. When we meet in Haslach, we will see whether the passage of 15 years, and President Obama’s call for change, have prepared Europe to take a turn for the better. Dietmar„Laue/Beatrijs„Sterk
From left: Chritina Leitner, Vibeke Vestby and Beatrijs Sterk working on the jacquard exhibition (see pp− 28/29)