Don’t miss this chance to see an array of textiles from the 16th to the 19th centuries.
Indian textiles were among the most significant works of art traded between Asia and Europe during the Age of Spices. Medieval Indian artists were the first to develop the sophisticated technology for printing cotton with brilliantly coloured dyes that were resistant to fading, and by the beginning of the international spice trade in the early 16th century, India was mass-producing the patterned cloths for international markets.
The first Portuguese, Dutch and English spice merchants sailing to Southeast Asia learnt very quickly that it was Indian textiles that locally were most sought after to barter for valuable spices. For the next 200 years, India dominated the global textile trade until Europe developed mechanised fabric printing in the late 18th century.
See some rare and delicate examples of textiles for the first time on display at the Art Gallery of South Australia in Treasure Ships: Art in the Age of Spices.
This is the first exhibition in Australia to present the complex artistic and cultural interactions between the East and the West from the 16th to the 19th centuries – the period known as the ‘Age of Spices.’
The exhibition presents almost 300 rarely seen objects, including ceramics, decorative arts, paintings, prints and of course textiles in the form of clothing, rugs and bedspread covers, known as palampore. The objects come from public and private collections in Australia, India, Portugal, Singapore and the United States.
Among the most famous Indian textile designs in the Age of Spices was the fantastic blossoming tree, called the ‘tree of life’. The origins of this design are uncertain but it may have been inspired by descriptions of the Tree of Bliss which grows in the centre of Paradise according to Islamic cosmology.
By the 18th century, there was great demand in Europe for dyed textiles depicting this subject and they were commonly painted on drapes and bedspread covers made in India for Western clients.
The Indian artist often took great liberties with the subject too, eclectically combining various Indian, Chinese and even Western themes in their interpretation of the ‘tree of life’.
The 18th century textile, made as a bedspread for an English clientele, on display in Treasure Ships features the ‘tree of life’ in combination with an imaginary flowering bamboo, inspired by Chinese and Japanese art, accompanied by the legendary European cornucopia or ‘horn of plenty’ bursting with flowers.
For more information on the exhibition, visit www.treasureships.com.au
Treasure Ships: Art in the Age of Spices
13 June – 30 August 2015
Art Gallery of South Australia
Tickets available now www.treasureships.com.au
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