Tag Archive for: Textile Museum of Canada

Susan Lahey Appointed to the Ontario Arts Council Board of Directors

Susan-LaheySusan Lahey of Mount Albert, Ontario, was appointed to the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) board of directors in April 2019.
Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Susan holds degrees from the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia, as well as a post-graduate diploma in Asian art from Sotheby’s School of Oriental and African Studies in London, England.  Her interest in Chinese culture and its arts led her to Taipei, Taiwan, for two years studying at Stanford’s Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies at the National Taiwan University.
Susan is President of Eastern Art Consultants Inc.  Prior to this, she served as the Department Head for Asian arts at Ritchies Auctioneers & Appraisers, a former Toronto auction house.  Currently she is an Accredited Member of the International Society of Appraisers (ISA), an organization that maintains the highest standards in the methodology and ethics of appraising.  Susan regularly works as an instructor of Chinese art (both ancient and contemporary); engages in public speaking at arts events, and contributes articles to digital and print publications on the Asian art market.
Previously, Susan held various work positions at the Royal Ontario Museum’s Near Eastern & Asian Civilizations Department.  She also served there as the Program Chair of the Friends of the Far East, Bishop White Committee Executive.
Susan is an active volunteer in her community of East Gwillimbury, where she serves on the Town’s Arts & Culture Advisory Committee.  She volunteered as secretary for the Foundation for Appraisal Education and served as the Art Society Convener at the Granite Club, organizing a wide variety of art-themed events and lectures for more than five years. 

Original article can be found here

Kashmiri Shawls: Fashionably Wrapped

Fashionably Wrapped: The Influence of Kashmir Shawls
Until July 4, 2010 at the Textile Museum of Canada, 55 Centre Avenue, Toronto

‘Connecting cloth, culture and art’ is the slogan of the Textile Museum of Canada, and it readily accomplishes this purpose with its current colourful exhibition Fashionably Wrapped: The Influence of Kashmir Shawls. The exhibition is curated by Central Asian and Caucasus textile expert Natalia Nekrassova whose previous well-received shows at the Textile Museum of Canada have covered topics on weaving traditions in Asia, the Silk Route, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Here she has selected thirty-three shawls from the museum’s permanent collection to demonstrate the transformation of the Kashmir shawl both in style and production technique after its arrival in Europe.

The shawl’s evolution from part of traditional costume worn by Kashmiri men for several centuries to an everyday accessory in Victorian England amongst women of all classes was a rapid one. As a significant international trade item, the most distinctive aspect of the Kashmir shawl was its fine, soft under-wool derived from the Himalayan mountain goat. This wool, known as ‘cashmere’ in English, was indeed named after the well-established textile centre of the Kashmir Valley in India.

Interestingly, the Empress Josephine of France played a pivotal role in the meteoric rise of the Kashmir shawl as a highly desired fashion item when Napoleon gifted her several exorbitantly expensive shawls in 1801. She appreciated them for their lightness, warmth and exotic qualities, and since other affluent ladies in Europe viewed her as an arbiter of good taste, these luxurious shawls quickly became popular.

In imitation of the Indian style, the British produced the “Norwich shawl” in the early 1800s. Shawls which had originally been hand woven by Kashmiri craftsmen were copied by weavers in France, Great Britain and Russia using the recently invented Jacquard loom and mass-produced during the Industrial Revolution, thus dramatically reducing production time and cost for consumers.

With their distinctive floral motif, the shawls marketed in Europe were commonly referred to as ‘paisley’ shawls after the city of Paisley, Scotland which eventually dominated shawl production in the 19th century. The characteristic motif of the delicate Kashmiri boteh (flower), a slightly curved floral cluster with bent tip, morphed into the familiar teardrop-shaped design used in a repetitive pattern preferred by European tastes.

Highlights of this exhibition include a Kashmir goat-hair tilikar (a type of shawl made of a patchwork of twill tapestry pieces sewn together) from 1850-1860; as well as an elegant and very feminine Norwich shawl from 1810-1820 made of wool and silk, with a supplementary weft patterning on twill-woven ground featuring the typical paisley pattern. Visitors also have the opportunity to view finely embroidered examples of mid-19th century coats or choga, long-sleeved garments worn by Indian men.

Although the fashion trend of the paisley shawl waned in the late 19th century, the pashmina descendants of the treasured Kashmir shawls are enjoyed cross-culturally today. This exhibition vividly demonstrates their importance as examples of exceptionally beautiful and practical textile art.

Susan Lahey, MA, ISA
President, Eastern Art Consultants Inc.
Written as an exhibition review for the Asian Art Newspaper