Textiles at the V&A

Course Dates: 28/11/24
Time: 11:00 - 14:30
Location: Off Site
This session takes place in the V&A’s remarkable collection. It can be taken as a stand-alone visit (no previous knowledge required, all welcome) or a final lesson for the six-week online course VB699 Textiles: An International History. You will see a wide range of woven, printed and embroidered cloth from around the globe and explore the roles these have played in the world’s material culture.
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Full fee £39.00 Senior fee £31.00 Concession £25.00

Textiles at the V&A
  • Course Code: VB108
  • Dates: 28/11/24 - 28/11/24
  • Time: 11:00 - 14:30
  • Taught: Thu, Daytime
  • Duration: 1 session
  • Location: Off Site
  • Tutor: Elizabeth Eyres

Course Code: VB108

Thu, day, 28 Nov - 28 Nov '24

Duration: 1 session

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Centre for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

On this one-session course you will engage with one of the most overlooked yet important aspects of material culture: the production and consumption (use) of textiles. Besides their most basic functions, textiles have had a huge range of social and cultural functions throughout their history. As well as having been intimately linked to the everyday lives of all members of all societies for millennia, textiles express power and prestige for their owners and wearers, as well as fulfilling symbolic functions.

In the collection we will explore the textiles from the Byzantine era and the European medieval world, when tapestries were the most highly prized art objects. We will also examine textiles from the Islamic world, and the manufacture of Spitalfields Silks in London. We will study the importance of textiles in trade and in political and cultural interchange, including the role of the Silk Road and the production of cotton fabrics, which was one of the chief drivers of the slave trade.

The Industrial Revolution was driven largely by a desire to mechanize textile production, which in turn drove advances in design in the 19th century, in which textiles played a key role. We will see how William Morris and other members of the British Arts and Crafts Movement readdressed how textiles were designed and made.

Please note that displays at the V&A can change at short notice. A meeting point for the session will be emailed to you at least one week before the session.

What will we cover?

• You will see the different ways in which textiles have been decorated over the centuries by means of figured weaving, printing techniques, painting, embroidery, sewing and dyeing

• We will look at examples of textiles from the Byzantine era, the European medieval era, the Ottoman empire, the Renaissance period, Safavid Iran (Persia), Tudor times, India, and other locations, depending on current displays at the gallery

• You will discover the role and work of key designers in the development of modern textile design in the 19th and 20th centuries.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

· Describe at least five different ways of applying pattern and decoration to cloth

· Recognise textiles from the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, Safavid Iran and the European courts of the medieval world

· Identify the work of at least three key 19th century textile designers and explain their importance.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This course is suitable for all levels and requires no previous experience or study of the subject. However, the six-week online VB699 Textiles: An International History course will give you excellent preparation for the gallery visit should you wish to take it.

You should be able to follow simple written and verbal instructions, demonstrations, hand-outs and health and safety information. You will be invited to take part in group discussion.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

You will be taught in the gallery with lecture and group discussions. Handouts will be provided by your tutor to support your learning on the course; these handouts will be available online/digitally for download via the college’s Google Classroom. You will be sent an invitation to join Google Classroom within a week of the course start date. There will be suggestions of optional follow-up reading and videos that you can watch online to supplement the class, but no formal homework is set. Please note: the tutor is unable to send documents via email because of copyright and data protection restrictions.

Please note that museum-based courses take place during public access hours. Tutors are not able to control sound levels or behaviours of visitors outside of the course group. Unless you are a wheelchair user, and have confirmed access details with us (as levels of access can vary between galleries), you will need to be able to walk between exhibits and stand for some time while looking at them (you may bring your own portable stool if you have one, but we cannot guarantee access to any gallery stools.) If you feel you may be impacted by these environmental variations, please inform the department on humanities@citylit.ac.uk before the course begins, to discuss reasonable accommodations we can make to assist your learning in the museum space.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You might wish to purchase a notebook for taking notes. You might wish to buy some of the books on the reading list provided. However, while a reading list is provided, do not feel obliged to purchase any books. Entrance to the gallery is free.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Textiles: an international history.

Elizabeth Eyres

Liz Keevill Eyres worked as a textile designer in the fashion industry for four years and then as a magazine journalist specializing in interior design for 13 years. Her first degree was at Camberwell School of Art which she did at the same time as completing a degree in History and Art History with the Open University. Liz studied and has taught at Kingston University, where she lead modules and lectured in history of art, design history and architecture for ten years and ran study visits both at home and abroad. Liz has researched into English Modernist textile design of the 1950s and the professional practice of the provincial Edwardian architect, in particular Norwich-based architect George Skipper.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.