About E.A.S.T

East Anglian Stitch Textiles (E.A.S.T) was formed in 1995 in response to a demand for a self-supporting framework for textile artists in East Anglia, UK.


The membership of this group commenced with ten artists and now has fifteen.


Since it's inception E.A.S.T has had a close relationship with Braintree District Museum where it meets monthly and held the first E.A.S.T exhibition in 1997.The group continues to be mentored by Anthea Godfrey, Artistic Director of the Embroiderer's Guild.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Textiles from another ocean




Oceania, is one of the current exhibitions at the Royal Academy in London (continues until 10 December 2018).  This is a personal reflection of some of the issues and objects I found particularly interesting but especially those linked to textile art.

On entering the gallery you are confronted by an enormous blue cloth - stitched and slashed - made by the artist Kiko Moana of New Zealand.  It seemed to me the perfect illustration for an exhibition that was considering the art and cultures of a region both connected and divided by water.  As a modern work it was also a reminder that this is not about an art and culture from the past - this was an exploration of Oceania throughout its history.

The second art work was a film, Tell Them, by Kathy Jetnil-Kijna.  It begins with a description of a piece of jewellery, leads to a discussion about Marshall Island and its people, and ends with their fears for the future.  It was about the links between cultures.  It was a reminder that actions in one part of the world impacts on others.




The exhibition continues with a vast array of items - canoes, figures, musical instruments, navigational charts each one telling just a little about a vast array of diverse communities.  There were also plenty of textile items.  There were many pieces of bark cloth but also pieces of patchwork.  The relevance of Samoan fine mat was fascinating in that these precious items were also used in ceremonies of reconciliation.

In addition there were several pieces of jewellery.


The curators of this exhibition were not shy about discussing the problems that began when Europeans, James Cook in particular, first encountered many of these cultures.  Equally the curators were keen to highlight that not all of the objects displayed were looted items - many were gifted by their original owners or traded.  Curation and display, it seems, was also a big part of this story.


The impressive mourner's costume was a reminder that many of the objects on display were not originally intended to be static items but were part of a larger picture that would have included sound, scent, movement, etc.  It  highlights another major theme - that many of the objects are about memory.  The past and the present are combined in such items.

Having visited the British Library's exhibition James Cook: The Voyages (which finished at the end of August), it was interesting to see two such different responses to the same starting point - both exhibitions relate to the 250 year anniversary of James Cook's first voyage of discovery.  Both were very thought provoking and both were reminders of how the actions of the past still resonate in the present.


Janette