#SILK. From fiber to textile

On 9th April 2021, we visited Algemesí, a city near València (Spain), where we attended the reopening (after months of restrictions due to COVID-19, a new exhibition) of the local museum “Museu València de la Festa“, dedicated to the local festivity in honor of the Virgin Mary, registered in the list of Intangible World Heritage.

In this occasion, a new temporal exhibition of traditional & contemporary silk textiles and attire was the attraction of the opening.

The exhibition, named “#SILK. From #fiber to #textile (1890-1990), has been curated by Guillem Bernat Alventosa Talamantes, a particular collector who is exhibiting his own contemporary collection of haute couture with other traditional dresses. Silk is the “guiding threat” along all the pieces exhibited, which are divided into two sections, one for the traditional and local garments and secondly, other which gathers the contemporary & high fashion designs made by acclaimed fashion designers.

Steps into a #SILK preservation plan

Following our goals in terms of preservation of the #silk heritage, we visited the Museu i Col·legi de l’Art Major de la Seda (Museum & College of High Silk Art) in València, on 31st March 2021.

The College of High Silk Art is one of the most prominent buildings of Valencian architecture and culture. It is located in a special area in the historical heart of the city of Valencia: Velluters’ (velvet artisans) neighborhood.

With the transformation, restoration and renovation of the building (it dates from the 15th century) in the last years, driven by Hortensia Herrero Foundation, a piece of material and immaterial history of the city has been recovered, as the guild of silk weavers was reference in the world and one of the engines of the Valencian economy. The archive of the College of High Silk Art  is the most important in Europe and maintains a large number of copies from its inception to the present in scrolls, books and file boxes.

We met with some of the Board Governors from the nowadays Velluters’ Guild, building contacts and partnerships. First we presented our project and the updated results, as our Thesaurus, ADASilk and the Virtual Loom, tools which we offered to being used in their museography as much as the could be useful. We also encouraged the Board members to add their digitalized records to the huge database SILKNOW project is building in collaboration with Mueums, institutions, etc.

But, our main and central discussion was about the shared worries on the future perspectives of silk weaving tradition, threatened by multiple circumstances and challenges. In this moment, local artisans are suffering the consequences of the world pandemics of COVID-19, as the festivities and celebrations are not taking place, and most of their textile production is focused on folklore dresses. The transmission and legacy of the weaving techniques knowledge and textile craft was another key point of our meeting, as there are no ways to coach new artisans and professionals in the traditional techniques, there are not any educational plans or programs which include weaving tuitions.

Because all of these, we agreed in continuing working together, along with the creative industries in order to build a new plan on silk preservation, which would be send to the Spanish Government, to emphasize the need of concrete and useful measures, taking steps in the safeguarding of this traditional craft.