Weavers of the Clouds. Textiles from Peru, The Fashion and Textile Museum, 21 June – 8 Sep 2019, brings the captivating art and textiles of Peru to the UK, showcasing some of the world’s oldest and most colourful designs. The exhibition features rarely seen objects from private collections and national museums, including full costumes, tapestries, paintings, photographs, illustrations and accessories. It examines the vibrant applied crafts, heritage and traditions of Peru, celebrating the culture and customs of the artisan and their influence on design, fashion and beyond. Each geographical region is associated with a different technique or application; the exhibition will feature weaving from the Central Highlands, felting created in the North, floral embroidery produced in Ayacucho in the South West, knitwear originating in the Highlands and machine embroidery from the Colca Valley. Exhibition highlights include a 16th-century Quipu – knotted fibres used by the Incas as a form of communication – and a four cornered hat, dating from 600 AD. A rare pre-Hispanic tunic created in orange, yellow and blue macaw feathers is displayed alongside a sequined waistcoat emblazoned with birds and flowers and a Shipibo costume from the Amazon Rainforest, embroidered to reflect the astrological map. Tapestries and weaving from a private collection include a ceremonial tunic created using a Scaffold weave; one of the most unusual weaving techniques in the world, previously existing only in the Andean region of South America. Despite dating back to 800 AD, the influence of these techniques can be seen across hundreds of years; in particular in the works of Bauhaus designers Gunta Stölzl and Anni Albers.
The costumes and textiles on display are complemented by a selection of varied and engaging photographs by Marta Tucci, Max Milligan and Sebastian Castaneda Vita. Also on display are postcards by influential photographer Martin Chambi. Chambi was one of the earliest known indigenous Latin American photographers, whose black and white postcards, featuring images of the indigenous people of Cuzco and their costumes, helped to disseminate knowledge of Peru in the 20th Century. Postcards were an important part of Chambi’s practice; a selection of examples, dating from the 1930s, are being presented in re-creation of his iconic studio.
The Fashion and Textile Museum is a contemporary fashion museum in Bermondsey, London. Founded by British designer Zandra Rhodes in 2003, the museum is part of the Newham College of Further Education, and is open Tuesday-Sunday.