It’s in the making – Otago Museum

D2021.50 Embroidered cap, late 19th century, Central Asia. Photograph Jen Copedo, copyright Otago Museum.

2021 was a great year for fabric culture at Otago Museum, what with the very successful Fashion FWD >> Disruption through Design exhibition on show over winter; for summer, the scale is both smaller and wider. Smaller in that the new textile exhibit, It’s in the Making, is in the compact display space at the entrance to the People of the World gallery; wider in that rather than a local design priority, the work on display has an international focus. It’s in the Making: the Margery Blackman Textile Collection celebrates Margery’s 2021 gift to the museum of her personal research collection of bags, bedcovers, and clothing, mostly from the West Asian regions.

D2021-49 Small bag, 20th century, Qashqai people, Iran. Photograph Jen Copedo, copyright Otago Museum.

Margery is well known in the textile community as both an artist and a scholar. She took up weaving in Scotland in the 1960s, and on returning to Scotland a decade later, tapestry weaving. Her work is held in major collections nationally while a large scale tapestry has a permanent prominent place at the entrance to Dunedin Hospital.

While refining her own craft, Margery developed a strong interest in global traditions of weaving. While she began with the northern European weaving of her first practice, her interests expanded to traverse the world, and particularly to the regions that feature in her collection. Her focus is on both the techniques and context of the textiles and the influences can be seen in her own work.

Margery has generously shared her knowledge over the decades of her scholarship through numerous papers – many for CTANZ – and in curatorial work for Otago Museum. Her gift to the museum of her collection passes on her work to other researchers; the exhibition gives us a glimpse into the development of a collection and the insights that Margery has drawn from it.

As usual in this gallery, it’s concisely and coherently displayed and as a particularly nice touch for a textile exhibition, the information panels are suspended fabric banners.

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