Home » Posts tagged 'textiles'

Tag Archives: textiles

NADFAS becomes The Arts Society

The National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS), a 90,000 member-strong arts education charity founded nearly fifty years ago, has changed its name to The Arts Society.

The Arts Society will build on the strength of the current organisation which has a network of 400 volunteer-driven local societies and contributes to around 500 separate projects each year, donates around £200,000 annually to arts initiatives and contributes around £3M worth of volunteer work to the heritage sector.

The Arts Society works to promote and advance arts education and works to preserve our artistic heritage. It supports the arts, locally, nationally and globally by organising regular events, including study days, cultural visits, tours and lectures.

The Society often supports artists and students in the arts to undertake specialist skills, provides volunteers in museums, churches, historic houses and galleries to help to keep them running.

Each year, the Society works with the Royal Society of British Artists to give talented young artists the chance to be displayed in the RBA Annual Exhibition in London’s Mall

Volunteers contribute to the preservation of collections, deepening the understanding of the nation’s treasures through lengthy digitisation work, photography, archiving and cataloguing.

In Birmingham, the Society has created arts and history trails between diverse places of worship, helping to bring communities together and to spread appreciation of the similarities and differences between religions in local areas.

The Arts Society offers more than 5400 hours of lectures each year, covering architecture, archaeology, painting, prints, sculpture, textiles, furniture, furnishings, costume, glass and ceramics, enamel, metalwork, garden design, installation art, music, dance, theatre, literature and film.

If you would like further information , visit the NADFAS website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and the latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in 2014, we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Book Review : Ming Art, People and Places by Jessica Harrison – Hall (British Museum Press)

ming art

Interest in Chinese culture has grown considerably in the last few years, however Chinese history is still shrouded in mystery for many in the West. The current Ming: 50 years that changed China exhibition at the British Museum is illuminating some aspects of Chinese history  and this book accompanies the exhibition, yet goes further by covering the whole Ming period which is often referred to as a ‘golden age’ of Chinese culture.

The Ming dynasty ( 1368 – 1644) was remarkable for its rule under one family and covered a period when China became a global superpower.  Considering the duration of the dynasty, the book can only offer a concise introduction to many of the main features of the dynasty and its legacy for Chinese development.

The author makes the point in the introduction that Ming China was a gloriously complicated place but looking at the paintings, texts and objects from the period allows readers to open a window on many aspects of the period.

In the first chapter, the role of the imperial family is discussed, each emperor developed a network of family members who represented imperial power in the many regions of China. The prince’s palaces were often slightly less grand than the imperial palace but were important power bases housing a vast array of family members, servants and court officials.

With large populations at the palaces, there was an increasing need to find havens of peace and quiet. Within the Ming period, a large number of  gardens were constructed which sought to condense the natural world into a small space. Artificial and natural hills and lakes were complemented by buildings and waterways to create a space that encouraged poetic and literary contemplation.

Many of the palace gardens became the location for a number of sports and firework displays, at special festivals, plays were performed and music entertainments conducted.  Ceramic pots for plants were widespread and even ceramic garden furniture. In the fifteenth century, Fans were imported and became very popular amongst the members of the court. Like their European counterparts, the Ming emperors kept large parks for hunting and keeping exotic animals.

The large gardens of the palaces were replicated on a smaller scale by wealthy residents in the busy cities, there is a vast amount of literature that illustrates the importance of the gardens for social gatherings and to reaffirm the Chinese connection to the natural world.

The enormous growth of the imperial palaces wealth and of an increasingly prosperous middle class led to a boom in luxury goods. In the early Ming period, a number of these goods were manufactured within the imperial palace compound itself, however often luxury goods were presented to imperial courts as tribute. Often methods of manufacture were jealously guarded and highly regulated meaning that much of the production stayed within China.

The quality of the Cloisonné, lacquerware, jade, ceramics and textiles was remarkable and produced in considerable numbers for the imperial courts and other wealthy officials. However the highest quality was always reserved for the emperor himself and goods produced for the imperial palaces were marked to distinguish them from other production.

Certain Chinese goods were exported to mainly other Southeast Asian countries and even as far as the Middle East and Africa. These tended to follow long-established trade routes, in the 15th and 16th centuries very few Chinese goods arrived in Europe and those that did tended to be owned by the nobility.

In the fourth chapter, Ming Tombs and their occupants are the focus of interest. the author makes the important point that many of the most extraordinary Ming objects that survive today were excavated from tombs. The whole process of dealing with death , finding and constructing a burial-place, the funeral and preserving the memory of the deceased in Ming China  was undertaken very seriously.

Imperial and princely tombs were constructed like palaces above and below ground and often had sculptures of people and animals to help the spirit on its way. One unusual aspect of the tomb goods is that in some tombs are models of miniature buildings, figures, animals and food. These miniature worlds often made of earthenware  were created to keep the spirit happy. In Chinese culture,  angry ghosts were the ones that disturbed the living.

Remembering ancestors is an important part of Chinese culture and the more wealthy patrons commissioned paintings or sculptures of the deceased, these Memorial portraits became a focal point  in services to remember and pay homage to the deceased.

Closely allied to the process of dying was religion and the final chapter looks at religious sites and their communities. One surprising aspect of Ming China was the diversity of religious traditions and beliefs. There were various sects of Buddhism and Daoism, Muslim communities, Jewish communities and numerous cults. The emperor himself was considered to have Heaven’s blessing and introduced imperial services and rituals  to establish connections to illustrious ancestors.

The emperors status did not prevent patronage of other religions, there were often close connection with the imperial court and Buddhist temples.  Widespread construction of Buddhist monasteries were a feature of much of the Ming period.

This beautifully illustrated little book provides an informative and fascinating introduction to the Ming period. The lavish illustrations of objects from the period  that are in the extensive collections of the British Museum bring to life the often secretive and complex worlds of Chinese emperors and their palaces. The wonderful workmanship of paintings, furniture, costumes, ceramics and jewellery help to explain how even  in modern China, the Ming Dynasty is still considered a ‘golden age’ of Chinese culture.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you would like to find our more about the book or buy a copy, visit the British Museum website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January, we attract thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website
here