Author Archives: Silknow

Weaving our Past into the Future

On the 14th October, SILKNOW had its final review meeting. All work packages were presented, after a discussion, the work done so far in SILKNOW was approved according to the EU standards. It has been more than three years of weaving our past into the future. We have woven a network with different users, from museums to young designers, from technology to traditional industries. All to protect, conserve and disseminate the important heritage of silk.  Here is a summary of what we have been weaving these years and why.

Silk has surrounded us for centuries, from royal beds to traditional costumes, from liturgical vestments to ceremonial flag. It has been everywhere, within the Silk Road,  but also beyond it. Silk weaving has shaped manufacturing cities and trade routes, engaging visual artists, engineers and multitudes of workers.

Community, identity, history…Tangible and intangible experiences, technology, knowledge, arts and crafts inherited generation after generation. It is a link from the past to the future.  This heritage is still alive, but it may die soon. The artisans who used to weave using traditional techniques and looms are disappearing. Valuable historical fabrics are endangered by their sheer fragility. But technology continues to be very close to silk heritage, even today.

“The Analytical Engine weaves algebraic patterns, just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves.”

We have taken Ada Lovelace’s words as an inspiration to merge humanities and technology, in a team coming from six European countries. We have been working during three years to protect and disseminate silk heritage, weaving a net among academia, computing, arts and crafts, design, and creative industries.

Conferences, exhibitions, fashion catwalkstraining and capacity building programs, publications, all around silk heritage, have contributed to illuminate its important past, and its promising future.

In addition to that, we have created some digital tools

We have worked to create a unique resource, a thesaurus about silk in four languages, including one thousand words. It is based on many sources from across Europe,so that experts, museums, and just about anyone can delve deep into this knowledge.

Looking carefully at historical techniques, we have produced a digital memory tool, the Virtual Loom, that is able to weave on screen like a Jacquard loom does, giving the creative industries a chance for experimentation and business.

We have integrated the information from many museums bringing together data about thousands of objects around the globe locating them in time and space, giving everyone access to this hidden but precious heritage.

In short, we continue to weave the past into our future. Do you want to join us?

Related news:

Winners of the SILKNOW- Instituto Cervantes writing competition

Silk heritage is much more than textiles, it includes ideas, innovations and, of course, language exchange. To demonstrate this, SILKNOW, through its partner Instituto Cervantes, launched a literary competition inviting students at A2-B1 level to write a text inspired by the teaching materials “La Ruta de la Seda”.

In this compendium we present the winners of the competition. They have spun words through Spanish, weaving the past into the future.

AUTHORS LYON CENTRE:

  • My silk grandmother. Catherine de Coster. 1st prize.
  • When the Silk Road passes in front of your house. André Lauga. 2nd prize.
  • The silk scarf, a fashion accessory? Sylvie Thiault. 3d prize.

AUTHORS MANCHESTER CENTRE:

  • The Silk Road. Anonymus. 1st prize.
  • Silk and Spanish connect the world. Anonymus. 2nd prize

AUTHORS WARSAW CENTRE:

  • A paradise of colours. Ewa Ayton. 1er premio.
  • The Silk Road Journey Part I – Venice Martín Rodal Martínez. 2nd prize.
  • Dear Maria: letters from a traveller to his girlfriend. Anonymus. 3d prize.

Ganadores concurso redacción SILKNOW- Instituto Cervantes

El patrimonio de la seda es mucho más que los tejidos, incluye ideas, innovaciones y por supuesto, intercambio de idiomas y evolución del lenguaje. Para demostrarlo, SILKNOW, a través de su socio, el Instituto Cervantes, convocó un concurso literario invitando al estudiantado nivel A2-B1 a escribir un texto libre que estuviera inspirado en los materiales didácticos «La  Ruta de  la Seda».  

En este compendio presentamos a los ganadores del concurso, quienes a través del español, han hilado palabras, tejiendo el pasado hacia el futuro. 

AUTORES CENTRO LYON:

  • Mi abuela de seda. Catherine de Coster. 1er premio.
  • Cuando la ruta de la seda pasa delante de tu casa. André Lauga. 2do premio.
  • El pañuelo de seda, ¿un accesorio de moda? Sylvie Thiault. 3er premio.

AUTORES CENTRO MANCHESTER:

  • La ruta de la seda. Anónimo .1er premio.
  • La seda y el español conectan el mundo. Anónimo. 2do premio.

AUTORES CENTRO VARSOVIA:

  • Un paraíso de colores. Ewa Ayton. 1er premio.
  • Viaje por la ruta de la seda parte I – Venecia. Martín Rodal Martínez. 2do premio.
  • Querida María: cartas de un viajero a su novia. Anónimo. 3er premio

We are open! Avec notre passé, tissons notre avenir

On Monday 7th June, the exhibition “Avec notre passé, tissons notre avenir” opened to the public in the Instituto Cervantes in Lyon.

It will remain open from 7 June to 30 September 2021 , and will show how, thanks to the immigration of important Italian silk craftsmen since the 13th century, Lyon was for centuries a silk-making centre in Europe and became, in the 18th century (the golden age of European silk) the most important city in the design, production and innovation of the silk textile industry, and how, in turn, it exported its know-how to other European towns, especially Valencia in Spain, which later became a major centre of production.

Silk stories: round tables

As part of SILKNOW, the Instituto Cervantes of Brussels has organized a series of round tables called “Ensedados”. This cycle will take us to the territories of the European Silk Road from different points of view.

The first cycle will be a series of talks on literature, art and the history of silk. The second one, will be part of the European School of Administration and will focus on the challenges facing Europe and culture, in particular textiles, wothin the UN Sustainable Development Goals and International Relations.

More info.

Avec notre passé, tissons notre avenir

The Instituto Cervantes in Lyon is pleased to invite you to the opening of this exhibition on silk and its history in Europe, which is part of the Silknow project, on 7 June at 5.30 pm.

The exhibition Avec notre passé, tissons notre avenir (With our past, we weave our future) – which will remain open from 7 June to 30 September 2021 – will show how, thanks to the immigration of important Italian silk craftsmen since the 13th century, Lyon was for centuries a silk-making centre in Europe and became, in the 18th century (the golden age of European silk) the most important city in the design, production and innovation of the silk textile industry, and how, in turn, it exported its know-how to other European towns, especially Valencia in Spain, which later became a major centre of production.

Register to attend the opening!

Best Practices for the Documentation & Digital Data Curation for Textile Collections

Access to cultural heritage is recognised as a basic human right. Its enjoyment and recognition by the community makes them become its custodians, valuing it as worthy of protection. Despite textiles -and especially silk- play a key role within the history and current life of so many European communities, it is insufficiently recognised as an important kind of cultural heritage, of both tangible and intangible nature. Moreover, its conservation is a very complicated task, given its own physical fragility, and its dispersion in many small institutions.

On the other hand, the digital challenges faced by museums vary greatly, depending on their size, financial and human resources, etc. Small and medium size museums have little access to digital tools and repositories that can allow them to share their data beyond their own walls and websites.

Digital open access and data management is therefore one of the major challenges facing museums. Indeed, a large number of culturally significant historical artefacts have been digitized and made available online. This means that experts in cultural heritage, and often the general public, now have the ability to search for and access information about artifacts instantaneously, even when these are stored in distant parts of the world. However, each institution has its own cataloguing practices, that sometimes change, even within the very same museum. The resulting information can therefore vary greatly. The inherent heterogeneity of these data results in the creation of silos, incompatible with each other, and therefore mutually incomprehensible. Data heterogeneity is further increased by the multiplicity of languages used. This makes the discovery of these data even more difficult, as it requires users to master various languages and very different information management systems, as well as explicit or implicit data models. To begin to overcome these issues, museums need to talk to each other, as they are the first to suffer these problems. SILKNOW provided three workshops as a forum to share, debate and propose best practices that should help many museums that share the same situations.

The resulting guidelines are quite broad, since the extreme heterogeneity of collections, institutions and contexts makes it very difficult to provide more specific advice. However, we are sure that this first step is already a valuable contribution for a number of goals, such as the consolidation of museums in the digital arena, through a widespread adoption of digital open-access policies; the support and training to museum professionals tasked with its cataloguing and dissemination; the  recognition of textile heritage, its value and complexities; and the need for its increased protection. National plans or international charters should play an instrumental role in this regard. 

Download the best practices here.

#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.

Lecture Series- Zurbarán Centre

Three distinguished scholars explore the visual and material heritage related to the development of silk in Spain, starting with the pioneering production of silk in medieval Iberia to the new uses and meanings of silk in contemporary society. The lectures are hosted by the Zurbarán Centre at Durham University and organized in collaboration with the University of Leeds, the Instituto Cervantes-Manchester and SILKNOW.

The lectures will be delivered live on zoom, each will last ca. 35 minutes and be followed by a brief presentation of the digital tools developed by SILKNOW.

The lecture series is free and open to anyone interested in European silk heritage.

Plase register here and reeive a Zoom link for the lectures.

Friday, 7 May at 6:00 PM : Dr Maria J. Feliciano, Staging Medieval Silk in Iberia: Treasure, Ritual, and Ornament.

Dr. María J. Feliciano is an independent scholar based in New York City. She specializes in the visual culture of the late medieval and early modern Iberian worlds. She has published extensively on the influence of the arts of Islam in the artistic developments of Peninsular and Viceregal societies. She is the director of the Medieval Textiles in Iberian and the Mediterranean Research Project and a member of Material and Visual Cultures of Religion in the Americas (Yale University) and The Medieval Iberian Treasury in Context (CSIC), among other research groups. Dr. Feliciano’s lecture will be followed by a brief demo of the digital tools developed by the SILKNOW research project, in connection with the subject of the lecture. The presenter will be Jorge Sebastián, Professor of Art History at the Universitat de València.

Friday, 14 May at 6:00 PM: Dr Ana Cabrera, Revisiting Sericulture and Silk Production in the Kingdoms of Spain, circa 1300-1700: local and global networks

Dr Ana Cabrera is Director of the Instituto del Patrimonio Cultural de España since 2020. Previously she was curator of historical fashion at the Museo del Traje in Madrid (2018-2020), Marie S.-Curie Fellow at the Victoria and Albert Museum (2016-2018), and curator at the National Museum of Decorative Arts of Madrid (2002-2016). She has curated the exhibiton Alfombras y tejidos del Museo de La Alhambra in Granada in 1997 and Extra, Moda. El nacimiento de la prensa de moda en España with Maria Prega at the Museo del Traje. She is the author of four books, several book chapters and articles about museum documentation, the history of the Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas, and historical textiles. Dr Cabrera’s lecture will be followed by a brief demo of the digital tools developed by the SILKNOW research project, in connection with the subject of the lecture. The presenter will be Mar Gaitán, Research Technician, Universitat de València. 

Monday, 17 May at 6:00 PM: Professor Cris Carr: “Silk in contemporary society, beyond its ornamental use”

Cris Carr is Professor in Textile Technology at the University of Leeds, with a key focus on Healthcare Textiles, and he was Head of the School of Design until September 2020. He has published widely through research publications and conference presentations and is a member of several Editorial Boards for international research journals. In 2015 he was awarded the Society of Dyers and Colourists Gold Medal for his outstanding contribution to Textile & Colour Education and is currently a Trustee on the Society of Dyers and Colourists. Professor Carr’s lecture will be followed by a brief demo of the digital tools developed by the SILKNOW research project, in connection with the subject of the lecture. The presenter will be Cristina Portalés, Ramón y Cajal researcher, University of Valencia.

ADASilk. Travel into Silk Heritage

Although silk textiles were for many centuries very precious trading goods across the Eurasian continent and further, the knowledge about how production started in Europe and its culture surrounding it is not very known or easily accessible anymore. Textiles, clothes, furniture and so many other objects are scattered around museums and collections and information about them are not easily accessible, neither for researchers nor for the fashion industry and the broader public.

To solve this issue, we created ADASilk (Advanced Data Analysis for Silk heritage), which integrates an exploratory search engine and a Spatio-temporal map, is built on top of the SILKNOW’s knowledge graph that contains nearly 40,000 fabric entries with images and other relevant information describing them (e.g., production place, production timespan, material, technique, etc.). This repository is named ADASilk after Ada Lovelace, the British mathematician whose connection to the origins of computers is well known by now.

The data contained in ADASilk comes from the archives of Boston Museum of Fine Arts, CDMT Terrassa, Garín 1820, Joconde Database of French Museum Collections, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mobilier International, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Musée des Tissus, Paris Musées, Red Digital de Colecciones de Museos de España, Rhode Island School of Design, Sicily Cultural Heritage, Smithsonian, Versailles, Victoria and Albert Museum.

ADASilk is based on a generic exploratory search engine for knowledge graphs being developed at EURECOM and includes scientific contributions from Universitat de Valencia, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique – Lyon 2, Universita Degli Studi di Palermo, GARIN 1820 S.A., Institut Jozef Stefan, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Universitaet Hannover, Monkeyfab, and Instituto Cervantes.

The Virtual Loom and Spatio-Temporal Maps visualizations have been developed by Universitat de Valencia.