What's Happening at the Arts Center

 

Back to News
Shoulder SeasonWarning - this news article expired on 2017-01-18. Information may no longer be accurate or applicable textile exhibition

TIAC DISPLAYS COLLECTION OF EXQUISITE CASHMERE SHAWLS FOR FIRST TIME

 

CLAYTON, NY (October 6, 2016) – The Thousand Islands Arts Center ~ Home of the Handweaving Museum (TIAC) is pleased to announce the opening of Shoulder Season, an exhibition featuring cashmere paisley shawls from the Handweaving Museum’s collection that have never before been seen.  It will open October 26, with a reception from 3-5 pm and run through January of 2017. The reception is free and open to the public.

            The term shawl originally denoted a textile of the highest class of wool or animal hair. The shawl of rectangular shape as we know it today dates back to the Roman times. Throughout the 19th century shawls bearing the Indian tear-drop shaped boteh or paisley design were popular in the United States and Europe.  The shawls are oversized squares or rectangular in shape with an average measurement being approximately 12 feet by 6 feet and usually made from blends of cashmere, silk, wool, and cotton, oftentimes of highest quality. These are known by three names: pashmina shawls, after the name of the fine undercoat of hair of the Kashmir goat; Kashmir shawls, after the location in Northern India where they were originally produced; or Paisley shawls, named after the town in Scotland that mass reproduced these shawls.

            The popularity of these shawls can be accredited to trade with the East India Company. The shawls were brought back to Britain and became the vogue among wealthy traders and aristocrats’ wives, although in short supply and very expensive. As a result, Europeans began manufacturing and selling them for a tenth of the price.

            In the 1870s, the Franco-Prussian war halted exports of the shawl from Kashmir and caused the industry to collapse. By the same time, a shawl woven on the semi-automated Jacquard Loom could be bought for only a few shillings. As with many other luxury goods, once the shawls were inexpensive enough that every woman could afford them, no one wanted to wear them.

Yet these early shawls remain an historic legacy of beauty and luxury even today.  This exhibition highlights the diversity and exquisite craftsmanship of these magnificent handwoven and embroidered pieces, many of which contain the weavers’ (oftentimes three or more people would contribute months to the production of a single piece) signatures or company marker. On display for the first time, many of these pristine pieces are close to 200 years old!

The Thousand Islands Arts Center is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of traditional arts and handcrafts through educational programs, classes, lectures, and exhibitions.  Home to a nationally-renowned permanent collection and library of hand-woven textiles and books, the TIAC also offers a wide variety of classes for all levels of students – from the beginner to the professional artist. The Thousand Islands Arts Center’s mission is to preserve and promote art and craft through education, instruction, exhibitions, and its permanent textile collection.


###