I have spent the past many years, off and on, researching about and looking at historic woven silk textiles. My education included field trips to museum collections, hours of reading technical books written by former curators and textile experts- from weave structure to loom technology, and formal weaving lessons in both simple and complex weave structures. At this point, I can truly say that I have a very good understanding of woven silk textiles though my objective is to become an expert in the execution of the most extravagant and laborious weave structures that machine looms cannot replicate. I now work with Rahul Jain…I have to start executing myself independently but this cannot be hurried- art projects are never hurried ; business ventures may be so but im in this for the development of art, not utility oriented textiles made for rough day to day use.
What do I think that collectors who collect textiles should focus on? Personally, I have a disclosure to make- I have no interest in printed textiles or rugs. Embroidered textiles are OK. Though I do not dislike rugs, I do dislike printed textile- and the rugs that I think should be collected are elaborate and not of the tribal genre.
What should collectors collect now?
I think that current textile collections should really focus on newly made textiles for the art market because most of the old textiles are in museums and their technical structures have been identified and the very old ones are not in very good condition any more. I do not understand the beauty of cut up fragments of 1500 year old textiles – but I do feel that if someone can recreate a fabulous weave structure with a similar level of ornamentation, then that textile should be favored to the 1500 yr old fragment. Let the museums hang on to the old fragments because they have resources to preserve them well and also make them available for textile fanatics (like me) to study when we want to! We could not access these pieces in a private collection due to logistical issues and if we don’t have access to them, the art textile profession should may as well come to an end! I am sure there are tons who may disagree with me here but if you cannot enjoy the beauty of the textile, there’s really no point having it! And for those who say fabulous textiles cannot be made anymore- that is NOT true- yes, they can! But the technical weaves should not be copied straight away from the past- a truly artful textile (according to me) is one that takes inspiration from the past in technical construction but allows the designer to introduce modifications (as was always done through history) – that way a continuity gets established and a new vocabulary gets developed.
The laborious and exhaustive nature of this exercise will, by default, limit production to just a few panels per year but these few panels would be the masterpieces of the 2000’s for the next generations to come. There are VERY FEW professionals in the world who have the expertise to create such pieces- and even those people don’t have ready made formulas when they modify textiles structurally- they need to experiment on the loom. And that’s how magnificence is created!
YOURE PAYING FOR SUPERB EXECUTION, CRAFTSMANSHIP & BEAUTY! Let that be the principle that guides you to build your collection!