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Art of the Poor conference in London and Anne-Kristine Sindvald Larsen’s first presentation

27 June 2018

On 14–15 June Paula Hohti, Anne-Kirstine Sindvald Larsen, Michele Robinson and Piia Lempiäinen attended the The Art of the Poor in the Late Middle Ages and Renaissance Conference at Warburg Institute, organised by Dr. Rembrandt Duits. This two-day conference aimed to shift the focus from elite groups to popular groups, and explore art and aesthetic values of the so called “poor” during medieval and early modern period. Important focal point was to raise discussion on how we determine who was poor, what we consider art, and how different art forms were spreading among different socio-economical groups.

The conference saw several interesting papers discussing the art by, for, and about the poor. The topics ranged from the depiction of poverty in paintings, frescoed churches and artworks commissioned by village communities or artisans, to many aspects of the material culture of the poor. These included for example presentations on medieval pottery, devotional souvenirs and candlesticks, their aspirational meanings as well as practical usage.

On Friday, the morning session was dedicated to clothing, when Paula Hohti and Anne-Kristine Sindvald Larsen gave papers on their research. Paula discussed the changing artisan fashions in Italy, while Anne-Kristine gave her first presentation about her PhD research on Danish artisan clothing. Both presentations were received with great interest and they sparkled a lively discussion afterwards. We were very happy to see Anne-Kristine present her materials for the first time, and are excited to see how her research progresses.

Anne-Kristine Sindvald Larsen presenting her research.

Anne-Kristine Sindvald Larsen and Paula Hohti

Exploring Northern Italy: Team Training Trip

Our Team in Venice.

On 6–12 May, the entire Refashioning team took part of a training trip in Northern Italy. The aim of this trip was to deepen our understanding of the production and use of textiles in Italy during the Medieval and Early Modern period, and to do so, we had decided to move across Tuscany, Emilia and Veneto, the main centres of Italian textile production.

Our week consisted of several formative activities that supported the aim of the trip. We started the week in Florence, one of the European capitals for the wool production in the Renaissance period. On Monday, we took a weaving course in Fondazione Arte della Seta Lisio, where our teacher, Angela Giordano, thought us different regional weaving techniques from Tuscany, Sardinia, Lombardy and Marche. We were excited to learn about the mechanics of different loom types and about the weaving process, and enjoyed the day of concentrated weaving.

Weaving workshop at Fondazione Lisio.

Hard at work.

On Tuesday, after visiting the Museo del Tessuto in Prato, we travelled to Bologna,where on Wednesday we visited the Museo del Patrimonio Industriale. The museum showcases the long industrial history of Bologna, such as the history of local silk production, which made Bologna one of the main European centres for silk production, specialising in in the manufacturing of veils, already during the medieval period. The museum retains a functioning copy of the Bolognese silk mill, one of the first examples of proto-industrial production, and it was fascinating to study the mill and afterwards see the canals that powered the silk mills.

1:2 scale silk mill model at the Museo del Patrimonio Industriale.

Bologna.

Moving North, Padova was our next stop. On Thursday we had a joint seminar with the Department of Historical and Geographic Sciences and the Ancient World (DISSGeA) of the University of Padua on Fashion and Popular Groups in Renaissance Europe. We met local scholars Andrea Caracausi, Salvatore Ciriacono, Mattia Viale and Francesco Vianello, who talked to us about the production and consumption of silk ribbons, the budget of Venetian artisans and the consumption of textiles of the Veneto women.  This opportunity to engage with other researchers and exchange ideas was one of the highlights of our trip, and presented interesting possibilities for possible future co-operation.

Professor Andrea Caracausi giving a presentation on ribbons.

Our team with local scholars in Padova.

To properly conclude our visit, of course, we stayed for two days in La Serenissima: Venice. On Friday, we visited Tessitura Luigi Bevilacqua, one of the oldest – and still active – weaving factories of the city.  We had the possibility to see weavers and looms (once used by the Silk Guild of the Republic of Venice) at work,producing the refined soprarizzo velvet, and to touch with our own hands fabrics made following ancient techniques. One of the most striking feature of the workshop was that many of the looms and tools were old, some even from the 17th century, and this gave us some kind of idea what a 17th century weaving workshop might have looked and sounded like.

At Tessitura Luigi Bevilacqua.

At Tessitura Luigi Bevilacqua.

Velvet in the making.

Pattern samples at Tessitura Luigi Bevilacqua.

Besides silk, we learnt a lot also about lace. We started our “lace journey” in Burano, at Museo del Merletto, where the production of lace concentrated in the 19th century, and concluded it at Palazzo Mocenigo, with a backstage visit to the museum collections. There our expert guide, Paola, showed us extant examples of Venetian lace from 16th to 20th century, and explained us in detail the history and the manufacturing process. As an extra treat, we got to study and actually hold a 15th century pianelle platform shoe, which had just returned from exhibition in Canada.

Unfinished piece of Venetian lace with it’s original pattern at Museo del Merletto.

Paola showings us details of a 16th century Venetian lace.

Paula was over the moon to hold this 15th century platform shoe in her hands.

In addition to this stimulating programme, we thoroughly enjoyed spending quality time with our team. And of course, our learning efforts were eased by Italian food, culture and lovely weather. After the week we reflected on everything we had learned, and got many ideas for our future events.

 

CFP: Lower-Class Dress, Fashion and Identity in Europe, 1450–1650

29 May 2018

Lower-Class Dress, Fashion and Identity in Europe, 1450–1650

Renaissance Society of America Annual Meeting
17-19 March 2019
Toronto


In recent years there has been a surge in interest in Renaissance and Early Modern dress, especially in the context of European courts and wealthy households. Although revealing of important aspects of identity, consumption, social practices and more, these studies consider just a small segment of the population; what did average men and women wear and why? How and why did they create or cultivate particular looks? How did ideas about fashionable dress and appearance spread throughout the lower classes? How can modern scholars recover information about lower-class dress, when we rarely have extant examples, archival references or visual sources?

This panel aims to broaden our knowledge of dress and fashion in the past and seeks papers that ask questions about how the average person – for example artisans, shopkeepers, farmers, or peasants –  dressed in Europe from 1450–1650. Papers may utilise objects in museum collections, archival sources, visual and material culture, or printed or manuscript material and address questions around reconstruction, curatorial practice, production and/or consumption, gender, sexuality or other aspects of identity. Interdisciplinarity is strongly encouraged and speakers may bring knowledge from dress history, material or visual culture studies, economic history, archaeology, art/social/cultural history, digital humanities or other fields. Papers from PhD students, early career scholars and established academics are all welcome.

Please send an abstract of no more than 150 words, proposed paper title (15-words maximum), a short CV (300-words maximum), and a brief list of keywords along with your name, email address, and institutional affiliation to Michele Robinson at michele.robinson@aalto.fi by 1 August 2018.