23 May 2017

Henri Matisse, textile collector

Matisse in front of window screen, source: http://www.mfa.org/exhibitions/matisse-in-the-studio.

Over the week-end DH, son and I viewed Matisse in the Studio at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, on view from 9 April 2017 until 9 July 2017. The exhibit pairs actual objects collected by Matisse - vases, African sculpture, small tables, etc. - with paintings and other works featuring, or inspired by, the objects.  Images from the exhibit can be seen in reviews in the Wall Street Journal and the Boston Globe.  For me the highlight was the North African window screens Matisse acquired during his trips to Morocco and which informed his work.

Window screen, maker unknown, North Africa, 19th - early 20th c.

This type of North African textile is called a haiti; these luxury products were made by professional male needleworkers for wealthy clients.   Layered cloth is cut and edged; the geometric designs recall carved wood and stone window screens. Interestingly, the Indianapolis Museum of Art has a collection of these and other Moroccan textiles, purchased by Indiana native Admiral Albert P. Niblack when he was stationed in Gibraltar beginning in 1917.  The Niblack family later bequeathed thousands of Moroccan, European and Indonesian textiles to the museum.  

Fabric window screen, detail.

Fabric window screen, detail.

Another window screen  is paired with a painting of two women in a space which isn't so much a room as a cocoon of textiles.  The window screen in the painting is in the exhibit.  A note on the painting title - the term moorish is now viewed as part of the vocabulary of orientalism, or the Western world's patronizing, romanticized way of viewing the Maghreb region of North African and other non-Western cultures. 

The Moorish Screen, 1921.

Window screen, maker unknown, late 19th - early 20th c.

Window screen, detail.

Gallery view.

Finally, one of Matisse's great late still life paintings, Interior with Egyptian Canvas, created in 1948, hangs next to the tent hanging depicted in the still life.  I missed the 2005 exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum on Matisse and his textiles, so was happy to have this glimpse in Boston.

02 May 2017

Fleeced (in a good way) at Gore Place

Waiting to be sheared.

If, like me, you enjoyed the movie "Babe" you would probably like the annual Sheep-Shearing festival at historic Gore Place, the home of the 8th governor of Massachusetts, Christopher Gore (1758-1827), and his wife Rebecca, who was largely responsible for the design and planning of their mansion.

The well-attended festival featured vendors of art, fiber and food, costumed interpreters, music and dance performances, herding dog demonstrations and, of course, the shearing of the resident flock of merino sheep.  Although I currently have a yarn-buying moratorium, of the many yarn and roving vendors on site I was particularly taken with the offerings of Sonder yarns and River Valley Farm -  lovely textures and colors.  Both of these vendors plan to attend the upcoming 2017 Fiber Festival in western Massachusetts.


Carding and spinning demo.

Yarn and other items for sale.

Hooking a rug.

"Try before you buy" loom opportunity.

Alpacas - very soft.

But of course the main attraction is the shearing of the sheep - accomplished with manual, not electric, sheep shears.  Adult sheep are on one side of the holding area, with older lambs across the way. Hence, lots of bleating and baa-ing as ewes and lambs anxiously called to each other.

Foreground - ewes and rams; older lambs in the distance.

Skilled shearer at work.

Handling sheep and shears, in front of an audience.

Two lambs too young to be separated from Mom.