Embroidered Blouse from Peshawar, Pakistan

Pitt Rivers Museum


Talks                                  Visits to Collections

Exhibition Tours                 Show and Tell


Members can access our online events using the same password for the current year's magazine

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

at 4.30pm

at The British Library

Show & Tell of Manuscript Textiles and an Introduction to the Buddhism Exhibition at the British Library

A Show & Tell by

Jana Igunma,

Henry Ginsburg Curator for Thai, Lao and Cambodian collections at the British Library

Please join us for a unique behind the scenes event at the British Library with curator Jana Igunma who will tell us more about the manuscript textiles collections. Jana is also the lead curator of the Buddhism exhibition on show until the 23rd of February at the British Library, which she will introduce to us. After the Show & Tell our group will have the opportunity to take a self-guided tour of the Buddhism exhibition which will be open until 8pm that day.

Image: Gilded and lacquered palm leaf manuscript with a custom-made cotton wrapper with geometric designs and woven-in bamboo slats. Burma, 1856. British Library, Or 16545.


Tuesday, 26 May 2020


at the V&A in London

This event has been cancelled.

Introductory Talk

to the Exhibition


Kyoto to Catwalk

A Talk by Project Curator

Anna Jackson

On 29 February, the V&A will open Europe’s first major exhibition on kimono. The ultimate symbol of Japan, the kimono is often perceived as traditional, timeless and unchanging. Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk will counter this conception, presenting the garment as a dynamic and constantly evolving icon of fashion.

The exhibition will reveal the sartorial and social significance of the kimono from the 1660s to the present day, both in Japan and in the rest of the world. Rare 17th and 18thcentury kimono will be displayed for the first time in the UK, together with fashions by major designers and iconic film and performance costumes. The kimono’s recent reinvention on the streets of Japan will also be explored through work by an exciting new wave of contemporary designers and stylists.

Highlights of the exhibition include a kimono created by Living National Treasure Kunihiko Moriguchi, the dress designed for Björk by Alexander McQueen and worn on the album cover Homogenic, and original Star Wars costumes modelled on kimono by John Mollo and Trisha Biggar. Designs by Yves Saint Laurent, Rei Kawakubo and John Galliano will reveal the kimono’s role as a constant source of inspiration for fashion designers. Over 315 works will be featured, including kimono especially made for the show, half drawn from the V&A’s superlative collections and the rest generously lent by museums and private collections in Britain, Europe, America and Japan.

Please note that spaces for this event are limited. Booking via Eventbrite will open in mid-April. You will need to book your ticket for the exhibition separately. For more information on the exhibition click here.

Image: Outer-kimono for a young woman (uchikake), 1800 – 30, probably Kyoto, Japan. © Image Courtesy of the Joshibi University of Art and Design Art Museum, 2204-36

Saturday and Sunday,

7 & 8 of March 2020,

from10.30am to 4.30pm

at the Ashmolean Museum, Education Centre

OATG Tapestry Weaving Clinic

at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford

Inspired by:

CAI GUO-QIANG - Gunpowder Art,

an exhibition curated by Sheilagh Vainker

A Making Workshop

with Eiko Cunningham

This weekend making event is for experienced tapestry weavers (intermediate/advanced) who wish to be inspired by the current Ashmolean Exhibition, and to be guided by master tapestry weaver Eiko Cunningham.

A hallmark of gunpowder art is its lack of control. We will use this as inspiration to explore new ideas in weaving. The tensions between controlled versus uncontrolled aspects of the creative process map readily on to tapestry design and execution. We will look to liberate our constraints as designer weavers, by challenging our assumptions and usual ways of seeing and working.

Participants will have a tour of the exhibition, followed by discussions and planning of small tapestries to be woven. Weavers are required to bring a frame already prepared for weaving with warp applied, and at least on inch of heading in white or monochrome already woven.


Cai Guo-Qiang - Materials Without Boundaries, Ashmolean Museum, 2019

Cai Guo-Qiang Gunpowder Art Symposium, 24 October 2019, Podcast listen here

Image: View from the OATG Tapestry Workshop 2018.

*Please note that the Ashmolean Museum open but currently not holding any group events. For an interactive exhibition visit have a look here.

Guided Tour of the Exhibition


8th- and 19th- Century Greek Embroideries

with Exhibition Curator

Dr Francesca Leoni and Textiles Conservator

Sue Stanton

Through a selection of highlights from the Ashmolean Museum  collection, this exhibition explores the visual richness and technical sophistication of 18th- and 19thcentury Greek embroideries, as well as their debt to the many artistic traditions that flourished around the Mediterranean.

For more information on the exhibition click here.

Image: EA2004.6 © Image Courtesy of the Asmolean Museum, University of Oxford


*This Event is now cancelled.


Four centuries of Japanese and Indonesian textile connections

A Talk by

Dr Maria Wronska-Friend

The exchange of textiles between Japan and Indonesia was initiated probably in the 17th century by the Dutch traders who, until 1868, had a monopoly in the trade with Japan. As the trade goods used to be dispatched from the ports of Java, at times textiles destined for Indonesian markets were sent to Japan where they became highly treasured goods, incorporated into local dress or used in the tea ceremony. At the same time, at least from the beginning of the 19th century, residents of Java highly treasured Japanese katagami fabrics brought to Batavia as a return cargo from Nagasaki.

Japanese fascination with Indonesian textiles, especially batik, continues until today with at least a dozen of workshops on the northern coast of Java specializing in the production of batik kimonos, obi and silk fabrics decorated with a fusion of Japanese and Indonesian motifs. The talk will be illustrated with examples of contemporary batik fabrics made on Java for Japanese customers.

Dr Maria Wronska-Friend is an anthropologist and museum curator. Her research interests include textiles and garments of Southeast Asia in global perspective, in particular cross-cultural transfer of textile technology and aesthetics. She gained her PhD at the Polish Academy of Sciences focusing on Javanese batik technique in European decorative arts in 1890-1930. Since 1992 she is associated with James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, where currently she is an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow.

Unfortunately due to travel restrictions imposed by the Coronavirus outbreak Maria Wronska-Friend is unable to travel to the UK from Australia. As a consequence, we are sorry to announce that her talk Kimono and Sarong. Four centuries of Japanese and Indonesian textile connection on April 16th has been cancelled. We hope to reschedule the talk for a later date this year or next year.

We will also be reviewing other planned events as this unprecedented situation develops over the coming weeks.

Image: Hand-drawn batik on silk made in 2018 in Yogyakarta, Central Java, for the Japanese market. Private collection.

Postponed to 2021.

Book Talk

A Fashionable Century: Textile Artistry and Commerce in the Late Qing

with author

Dr Rachel Silberstein

A plethora of embroidered and trimming ornament – ribbons, borders and appliqued motifs piled onto jackets, robes, skirts, trousers, and accessories – was the defining characteristic of late Qing fashion. This trend was ultimately caused by the growth in commercial workshops which produced textile handicrafts in greater volume and for greater numbers of consumers than ever before, widening access to fashionable techniques, materials, and design. Despite the importance of these commercial workshops, both to dress production and local economies, they have received little attention from dress and art historians more interested in imperial design and constructing an idealized view of genteel ladies sewing their own dress.

This talk examines the expansion of commercialized dress and embroidery production during the late Qing period. With a focus on Suzhou, the center of fashionable dress production and embroidery, it shows how this city benefitted from the Gu embroidery trend, and how the expansion of commercial embroidery created networks of urban guilds, commercial workshops and subcontracted female workers. Though little attention was paid to these workers, objects of fashion reveal much about women’s participation—as both producers and consumers—in the commercialization of textile handicrafts. By reading objects of clothing and accessories from museum collections alongside pattern-books and advertisements, we will see how embroidery shops and accessory producers sought to brand and market their wares, and in turn, what these efforts tell us about the conflict of gender values inherent to the commercial production of dress and embroidery.

Rachel Silberstein is a historian of visual/material culture and gender in early modern China, with a particular interest in fashion and textile handicrafts. She earned a DPhil in Oriental Studies from the University of Oxford (2014). Previously ACLS / Henry Luce Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor at Rhode Island School of Design, she is currently a lecturer at the University of Washington. Her book, A Fashionable Century: Textile Artistry and Commerce in the Late Qing, published with the University of Washington Press, combines texts and objects to investigate how handicraft commercialization changed women’s engagement with fashion during the mid-late Qing period. She has also published research on Qing fashion in the journals Fashion Theory, Costume, and Late Imperial China.

Image: Figure 1.2. An anonymous family portrait of four generations of a Manchu family in late Qing Beijing, ca. 1853. Ink and mineral pigments on paper, 185.5 × 384 cm. Mactaggart Art Collection (2007.23.1), University of Alberta Museums. Gift of Sandy and Cécile Mactaggart. (detail)

The Oxford Asian Textile Group programme includes talks, events and visits on a variety of textile-related topics. Lecturers are from the UK as well as overseas specialists visiting England.

Talks are usually held at either the Education Department of the Ashmolean Museum or at the Pauling Centre, 58a Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6QS.

OATG talks are free for members and £3 for non-members.

For more information or programme suggestions, please contact

© 2020 by The Oxford Asian Textile Group.

Gujarati block print

Newberry Collection, c.1900

Ashmolean Museum