Style Court

Eight Years of Textiles, History, Art, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes


Traces of the Past

[Central Anatolian village carpet, LACMA. Composite ultraviolet reflectance photograph documented by Yosi Pozeilov and published in Hali, winter 2007.]

Several years ago we looked at X-rays, not of skeletal systems but of things: upholstered furniture belonging to the National Trust and an Anatolian carpet from LACMA's collection. In some ways, these intriguing images were as compelling as the objects themselves. 

Along slightly similar lines, I think, LACMA is currently inviting visitors to look at an entire group of textiles from an unusual angle. Fragmentary Tales: Selections from the Lloyd Cotsen "Textile Traces" Collection, on view through October 26, is an exhibition that shows how remnants of cloth have their own particular allure and tell stories, too. In this video, LACMA CEO and director Michael Govan explains how textile fragments can serve as a sort of index to the whole Museum.


Textile Network

[Image via Textile Hive]

Caleb Sayan, founder of the previously mentioned online resource, Textile Hive, will be in L.A. (at UCLA, specifically) on Friday, September 12th to participate in the Textile Society of America Symposium. His focus, appropriately enough, will be digital knowledge bases and ways of connecting textile collections -- topics that mesh well with the themes of this fall conference: innovation and change, past and present.

A wide range of textile scholars are scheduled to make presentations during the five-day event, using cloth as a jumping off point while covering the globe from Africa to Asia to the Americas.

[Photo by Ryan Bush and Aaron Rayburn] 

But back to Sayan and the website he developed in part to highlight the 40,000 + textiles gathered over the years by his mom, Andrea Aranow: He reports that his five and a half years of work to bring the pieces to a broader audience will soon culminate with an early September launch offering database memberships. So stay tuned.



[At left, 18th-century woven Kashmiri sash from Karun Thakar's private collection; At right, "Persia" linen-cotton by Elizabeth Hamilton.]

Lately I've been spending a lot of time looking at Elizabeth Hamilton's collection of fabrics and wallpapers, specifically her "Persia" design. Hand silk-screened in Massachusetts and available in multiple colorways, it's a large-scale print.

[At left: 19th-century Kutch embroidery; Silk on stamped Chinese silk.
 Thakar's personal collection.]
When a swatch of the "Ocean" option brushed up against an open book on my desk, Indian Textiles: The Karun Thakar Collection, I saw pairing potential. Here are two examples.


Textile Scout™

[John Robshaw's Surin Walnut]

[Detail: Robshaw's Maha Walnut

In the States, ikat may now be just as familiar a term as toile or crewelwork. Maybe even more familiar. For a while, Western designers have been channeling the textiles of Southeast Asia (think Indonesian sarongs and Thai wovens), with one of the most recent examples being John Robshaw's Siam collection. Another favorite of decorators is China Seas' linen/cotton Ikat II in Sienna Negre Tint.

 [Photo ©Julia Lynn. Design by Angie Hranowsky.]

This fall, curators at UCLA's Fowler Museum -- home to what is reportedly one of the world’s most significant collections of Timorese textiles -- will help spread the word about the varieties of weavings specifically made by Timor's women. Although considered to be spectacular, these cloths are often less recognizable on this side of the globe.

[Mau; Atoin Meto peoples, Amanuban, West Timor, mid-20th century; Commercial cotton yarns; warp ikat; 107 x 214.5 cm. Fowler Museum; Gift of Elizabeth Lloyd Davis.  Photo by Don Cole and courtesy Fowler Museum at UCLA.]
[Mambae peoples, attributed to Ainaro, Ainaro District, Timor- Leste, pre–World War II; Cotton, silk; warp ikat, slit tapestry; 208 x 130 cm; two panels. Fowler Museum; gift of E. M. Bakwin. Photo by Don Cole and courtesy Fowler Museum at UCLA.]

Opening September 7 and continuing through January 4, 2015 is Textiles of Timor, Island in the Woven Sea, an exhibition of fifty brilliantly colored cloths from both West Timor (today part of Indonesia) and Timor-Leste (aka East Timor). A companion book will be available, too.

BTW: Programming related to this show will be a highlight of the Textile Society of America's 2014 Biennial Symposium in L.A., September 10 through September 14. Details here. LACMA also plans to have a strong presence during the event.

In the meantime, one last Thai-inspired print by Robshaw.


On the Wild Side

[Photo of Schuyler Samperton at home by Tula Jeng. Note the planter below the window.]

Imagine an avant-garde 20th-century room. Maybe looks by Le Corbusier or even Syrie Maugham come to mind? But not necessarily Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, right? The funny thing, though, pointed out by Christopher Reed in Bloomsbury Rooms: Modernism, Subculture, and Domesticity, is that the latter two were also taking a walk on the wild side when, nearly a century ago, they started painting with abandon the walls (and doors and mantles and furniture) in their farmhouse, Charleston. The style certainly wasn't sleek or minimal, still Reed says, at that time, it was a whole new way of living.

[Samperton's dining room photographed by Tula Jeng. Click to enlarge.]

Similarly, a few years ago, Los Angeles-based designer Schuyler Samperton felt compelled to try a truly less expected approach. She explains, "I just wanted something crazy in my dining room, so I decided to recreate the [Bloomsbury-inspired] window I originally did for [the fundraiser], Legends of La Cienega."

[Window courtesy Samperton.]
Just as she had done for the window installation, decorative painter Kate Golden covered Schuyler's dining room walls with Vanessa Bell's bold take on the paisley motif -- free-flowing, daisy-strewn forms that seem to mix Bell's combined passions for Indian textiles and modern art.

The vintage red fabric used for the curtains and dining chairs was found at Hollywood at Home.

[Another view of the dining room captured by Tula Jeng.] 

"I first learned about Charleston in college through my ultra-cool brother, Kyle," says Schuyler. "My dear friend Beth Jewett and I quickly became obsessed, and she painted everything from beds to chests of drawers to these amazing ceramic pitchers and platters. We also made some amazing needlepoint pillows based on the designs. In school I was studying Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell and Lytton Strachey, so it was fascinating to me to connect their intellectual points of view with their aesthetic points of view."

[Edie Campbell photographed by Jason Bell via Vanity Fair.]

[Click to enlarge. Inspiration board by Samperton for Style Court. Background fabric: Peter Dunham's Kashmir Paisley. Image at left, again Campbell photographed by Jason Bell via Vanity Fair. Trench and hand-painted bootie via Burberry.]

"I also love the Bloomsbury Group's wild, exuberant way of mixing patterns and their crazy color combinations," she adds. It's no shock then that Schuyler is enjoying Bloomsbury's current fashion moment.

[From Charleston: A Bloomsbury House & Garden. Photography by Alen Macweeney.]

If you're interested in learning more about the history behind Burberry's Bloomsbury-inspired fall prints, or just want a virtual escape to Charleston, Schuyler recommends these books: The aforementioned Bloomsbury Rooms and Charleston by Quentin Bell and Virginia Nicholson. Plus there's this past post.

[Queen Mary fabric image via the V & A.]

We've also talked before about Bell's and Grant's abstract printed fabrics designed in the early 30s for Allan Walton. These prints are looser and more organic than their pre-1920s Omega looks. For inspiration, Schuyler is partial to Duncan Grant's circa 1935-36 Queen Mary fabric created for, you guessed it, the ocean liner named after the royal, although never actually installed on board. Re-edition cotton-linen yardage is available through Charleston's gift shop. Proceeds benefit The Charleston Trust.

Fittingly, one of Vanessa Bell's early paintings that attracts Schuyler is titled Still Life: Wild Flowers, a circa 1915 oil on canvas dominated by blue and ochre. And speaking of capturing garden blooms, Charleston is offering this upcoming workshop. Unfortunately, The Young Bohemians mini summer school is sold out (and caps off at age twelve), otherwise I think many of us would've liked to sign up for a creative retreat.


Coming Soon: Channeling Bloomsbury

[Click to enlarge. Inspiration board by Samperton for Style Court. Background fabric: Peter Dunham's Kashmir Paisley. At left: Edie Campbell photographed by Jason Bell via Vanity Fair. Trench and bootie via Burberry.]

Here's a little peek at a post that is in the works. It's been almost 100 years since artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant decamped to the English countryside and created their idyllic farmhouse, Charleston. With the house's centenary approaching, Bloomsbury-inspired pieces have been popping up, most notably at Burberry. But before Burberry's fall 2014 collection was seen on the runway, interior designer Schuyler Samperton was channeling the BG painters in her own dining room. Stay tuned for more.

[Image via Charleston]

[Ariadne Studio]

Related past post: Roger Woods and Bloomsbury.


Indigo See

[Image courtesy Lost & Found]

I knew that the 30-piece collection of handcrafted wares curated by film maker and former stylist, Jamie Rosenthal, for Anthropologie is currently only available at the retailer's locations in Austin, Miami, New York, Portland and San Francisco, or online, but not in Georgia. Still, while browsing an Atlanta shop today, I secretly hoped a shipment had been misdirected so that I might stumble across these African-made tie-dyed indigo napkins by Tensira.

The napkins are actually just one example of the indigo goods Rosenthal gathered together for Anthro, and you can shop the collaboration at her store, Lost & Found, too.

[More moody blues from Lost & Found]
For a little indigo primer, head over to Textile Hive. This resource encompasses more than 40,000 textiles from the Andrea Aranow Collection, which has essentially been growing since the 1970s. (Fun aside: Not long after she graduated from Brown, Aranow gained attention creating collage clothes for Jimi Hendrix.)

[Image of Aranow via Textile Hive]

As her collection grew, designers (of fashion, interiors and fabric) drew upon it for inspiration. But today, thanks to Aranow's son, Caleb Sayan, the collection is far more accessible. Working with film maker Andy Chandler and scholar Annin Barrett, this month he launched the free Textile Hive Base, complete with video primers on the centuries-old techniques used to create her coveted fabrics. Later we'll explore the site; In the meantime, see more indigo here.


Matisse at Home

[All screen-shots from 1996's Surviving Picasso]

Merchant-Ivory's Surviving Picasso seems to elicit a range of reactions from various folks. But maybe everyone can agree that the scenes for which the production design team recreated Henri Matisse's digs are among the most visually arresting.

I'm talking about the artist's rooms at the Hotel Regina in the South of France.

Along with Matisse's massive cut-outs, his textile collection is referenced with suzanis and what appear to be other Central Asian, Egyptian and possibly Mughal cloths hanging about.

The real life textile collection is mentioned in a piece I wrote for this weekend's Off Duty. It delves into Matisse's passion for fabric and how contemporary designers are in turn inspired by the artist's work. While researching the story, I spent some time pouring over the old black-and-white photos of Matisse's actual rooms (regular readers have already seen these in some of my past blog posts and, well, pretty much across the internet). Here's a change of pace -- a color-infused look at the way two set decorators channeled the modern master.

Friendly reminder: Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs leaves Tate Modern in early September. Next stop: MoMA. More on that in the WSJ piece.


Get The Picture

[All images in this post from Taschen's Peter Beard.]

This photo of Peter Beard, in one of his tents at Hog Ranch near Nairobi, is a familiar sight thanks to Taschen's series of books (and the internet). Maybe each time you've seen it, your eyes have understandably zeroed in on Beard wrapped in stripes. But take a look at the other stripes in the picture, lower left.

The cloth is covering Nejma Beard's dressing table circa 1990. Glamping before everyone was using the word.

I love the idea of a woven African textile as a backdrop for European-style bottles and brushes, so I pulled some different examples. Below are museum pieces, just for inspiration, but if you're looking to buy, check out the vast range of vintage and antique pieces at Adire.

20th-century cotton and silk from Nigeria (Yoruba peoples). Collection of The Met.

Strip-woven Yoruba cloth from the British Museum.

19th-century woven stripes likely created in Nigeria. Via British Museum.

1960s indigo resist-dyed cloth by the Yoruba people of south-western Nigeria. V & A collection.

More 1960s indigo, tie-dyed cotton also by Yoruba peoples. Via the V & A.

Plain-weave 1930s or 40s striped cloth, possibly from Mali. Via British Museum.


Back Stories

I can't remember if it occurred during the late 90s or the early 2000s but at some point the High mounted a large exhibition of Toulouse-Lautrec's work and, apart from his prints, obviously, one element of the show that really stopped me in my tracks was the curators' use of color. Acid green plus tart yellow and orange paint coated the walls making the Belle Époque lithographs appear even more graphic.

So I was intrigued when I learned that Farrow & Ball recently donated to MoMA 17 gallons of their red Blazer paint, along with quieter Dorset Cream and New White, and 72 rolls of the company's Dragged Paper, all to be used for the soon-to-open Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec: Prints and Posters. This show will include more than 100 pieces that relate to late-19th-century Parisian culture, covering nightlife and the Moulin Rouge, performers, women, visual artists, and food, just to give a sampling.

[Image ©Bringing Nature Home: Floral Arrangements Inspired by Nature, Rizzoli New York, 2012, and published at Style Court with permission from the publisher and photographer.]

In other wall-related news, I confirmed with de Gournay that it was Erica Tanov's bedroom panels -- those oft-blogged and published-in-print, serendipitously oxidized chinoiserie papers -- that created demand for their latest finish: Rose Antique.

[Image courtesy de Gournay]


Athens Scene

[Newcomb Pottery by Sarah A. E. “Sadie” Irvine with Kenneth Smith or Francis Ford: Platter, ca. 1942–48 with Gulf Stream design in the collection of  Newcomb Art Collection, Tulane University.]

On view this summer at the Georgia Museum of Art in Athens are two very different shows that explore similar themes: Young art students shaking up their communities. The first traveling exhibition, Women, Art and Social Change: The Newcomb Pottery Enterprise, is one we've already touched on. With approximately 180 pieces (textiles and metalwork plus the better known ceramics), this show looks at works by the women of Newcomb Pottery, essentially a collective/business experiment begun by Sophie Newcomb College in New Orleans in the wake of the Civil War. As I mentioned last year, the exhibition aims to spotlight more of the individual Newcomb artists who've previously remained anonymous.

Likewise, Shapes That Talk to Me: The Athens Scene, 1975–85 delves into the ways in which fledgling artists shaped Athens' burgeoning music community during the golden era. While today the bands of the period are household names, many of the visual artists are not. So the exhibition seeks to give the latter their due. The show is actually part of a larger happening, Art Rocks Athens 2014.


Pattern Play

[Credits follow below. Click for full view.]

Yesterday, the August issue of British Vogue arrived with a nod to Michael Kors's fall 2014 Navajo-related looks. I'm excited to see a range of South Western-inspired styles shown for autumn but, as my recent blog posts indicate, I think the classic Native American blanket stripes, wedge patterns and sunset hues are great in summer too. So, I pulled together an inspiration board.

[Portland Collection blanket inspired by Pueblo designs.] 

[Contemporary Navajo pottery available at the de Young.]

At the moment, the de Young's shop is well-stocked with books on authentic Navajo textiles (in addition to the previously discussed exhibition catalogue). And in Santa Fe, of course, Shiprock offers related vintage books, plus a wonderland of antique and vintage textiles and accessories. The exhibition on view at Shiprock's gallery now through August highlights Pueblo textiles.

Many of my inspiration pics at top are from Shiprock. Here's a break-down, clockwise from the right:

Image of turquoise jewelry via Shiprock's Pinterest page; 19th-century Navajo Wedge Weave blanket, vintage book and Pueblo armbands all available through Shiprock's shop.

Saddle blanket book sold through the de Young's shop.

19th-century Pueblo shoulder blanket is also at Shiprock.

More books about The William Randolph Hearst Collection and other Navajo weavings, again at the de Young.

Lastly, the midcentury rattle is another Pueblo piece at the Santa Fe gallery.

This post was updated at 7.7.14