Friday, August 24, 2007

King Cotton

'Wussten Sie, dass nicht nur Jeans, Windeln und Handtuecher, sondern selbst Foerderbaender, Faltboote oder Geldscheine - diese sogar zu etwa 98% - aus der Textilfaser Baumwolle bestehen? Dass kaum ein anderer Rohstoff den Lauf der Welt so stark beeinflusst hat, beschreibt der Autor in seiner 'Kulturgeschichte der Baumwolle' sehr kenntnis- und detailreich. So entstheht ein abgerundetes Bild von 'King Cotton', dessen Globalisierung im letzten Kapitel thematisiert wird mit aktuellen Abschnitten zur 'Altkleidersammlung fuer Afrika' und 'Fairer Handel'."

"Did you know that not only jeans, nappies and towels are made from cotton, but also conveyor belts, collapsible boats and bank notes - these even to approx. 98% - consist of the cotton fibre? That hardly any other raw material has influenced the course of the world to such an extent is described by the author in depth and detail presenting a comprehensive picture of 'King Cotton'. The subject of the last chapter is globalisation with an up-to-date look at clothes collection for Africa and Fair Trade issues."

Wolfgang Moenninghoff, King Cotton: Kulturgeschichte der Baumwolle, Artemis & Winkler 2006

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Success every time?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Fabric of Buildings

Yesterday I went on a tour of the building site which is to become the Cultural Centre in Eastbourne, house the Towner Collection and host exhibitions and conferences.The old Towner Gallery was situated in the Old Town, in a park between my house and the supermarket, a daily encounter as I went about my everyday life for over ten years. Whereas the old Towner Gallery was an old manor house with a domestic feel, the new Cultural Centre is a semi-industrial building wedged into Eastbourne's theatreland close to the sea front: polished concrete instead of creaking floorboards. The semi-finished building was shrouded in plastic sheets flapping like sails in the wind. Wearing helmets, fluorescent safety vests and boots we climbed up scaffolding and makeshift staircases, admiring vision and views, scale and potential. Among the building paraphernalia, boxes of cables and wires, clumps of textile bits on the floor, the inner life of the building soon to disappear under the smooth polished surfaces. Will textiles be able to resurface once the centre opens? I envisage threads, looped and knitted, stitched and tangled emerging from corners and crevices, climbing along steel frames, furtively invading space.

Lead buttons

Last week my children had a clear-out and I took several big bags of stuff to the dump. In the dump shop I found a perfect wooden sewing box - inside were two lead buttons and three plastic rings.

I also bought another filing box for 'The Textile Files'.

Dark shades

It has been a summer of dark shades and moods.


"During these two years in the cellar, his wife very slowly knitted a skirt, which she unravelled as soon as it was finished, only to start again."

Herzberg, Wolfgang (1990), Ueberleben heisst Erinnern: Lebensgeschichten Deutscher Juden, Berlin, Aufbauverlag 1990, quoted in Leydesdorff, Selma, Passerini, Luisa & Thompson, Paul (eds), Gender and Memory, International Yearbook of Oral History, Vol. IV, Oxford University Press 1996, p.204

Monday, August 13, 2007

Familienverbindungen - Family Links

Wegen Zerwuerfnissen in der Elterngeneration habe ich meine Verwandten vaeterlicherseits nie richtig gekannt. Vor drei Jahren, dank der Initiative meines aeltesten Cousins, haben wir uns wiedergefunden, neue Freundschaften sind entstanden. Mehrere Male haben inzwischen gegenseitige Besuche stattgefunden, Bande sind geknuepft, auch zwischen unseren Kindern. Letzte Woche war ich bei Gisela in Deutschland und sie gab mir Stopfgarne aus dem Naehkasten ihrer verstorbenen Mutter. Diese Woche ist Gisela bei mir in England und wir wollen zusammen Stoffe drucken. Wir teilen eine Leidenschaft fuer Textilien.

Because of rifts in the parent generation I never really knew the family of my father. Three years ago, thanks to the initiative of my oldest cousin, we found each other again. Since then there have been mutual visits, links have been made also between our children. Last week I was in Germany with Gisela and she gave me mending yarns from her late mother's sewing box. This week Gisela is staying with me in England and were are going to print fabrics together. We share a passion for textiles.

Familienverbindungen - Family Links

Bei meinem letzten Deutschlandbesuch habe ich noch einen meiner 'verloren gegangenen' Cousins besucht. H. und seine Frau C. leben auf dem Land. In einer umgebauten Deele organisieren sie Kulturveranstaltungen: Konzerte, Auffuehrungen, Lesungen, Ausstellungen. Frueher hatten sie auch Schafe und gehoerten einem Spinnkreis an. Schon lange wollte ich spinnen lernen - das Spinnrad wurde rausgeholt, ein rohes Schafvlies, ungewaschen, ungekaemmt, gefunden. Ich konnte lernen und ueben. Ein fortlaufender Faden braucht Aufmerksamkeit und ein harmonisches Zusammenspiel von Augen, Haenden, Fuss - erst wenn der Koerper gelernt hat, stellt sich ein Erfolg ein. Ein Augenblick des Zoegerns und der Faden reisst. Die fettige Wolle macht die Haende weich und zart. Der Geruch von Schafwolle auf der Haut begleitete mich noch einige Tage lang.

During my last visit to Germany I met another one of my 'lost' cousins. H. and his wife C. live in the countryside. In a converted barn they organise cultural events: concerts, performances, readings, exhibitions. They used to have sheep and and were members of a spinning circle. I've been wanting to learn spinning for some time. The spinning wheel and som raw, unwashed and uncarded fleece were found - could learn and practice. A continuous thread needs attention and harmony of movement between the eyes, the hand, the foot. Only one the body has learned, can there be success. A moment of hesitation and the thread breaks. The greasy wool makes the hands soft and tender, a lingering scent of sheep wool stays on my skin for several days.