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Conferences in Previous Years

Conference 2006

The 2006 PASOLD CONFERENCE was on the theme:
Textiles for Interiors : Furnishing the Home from the Renaissance to Inter-War Britain
it was held at the Victoria and Albert Museum 
Organisers : Professor Chris Breward and Miss Clare Browne

This one day symposium was organised by the Victoria & Albert Museum , in partnership with the Pasold Research Fund. The programme was developed by Chris Breward, Deputy Head of Research and Clare Browne, Curator of Furnishing, Textiles and Fashion both of the V & A. Their choice of six speakers provided an exceptional programme of varied and stimulating insightful papers, that explored the production, distribution, consumption and culture of household textiles from the fifteenth to the early twentieth centuries.

Giorgio Riello ( London School of Economics) presented a paper on ‘The Material Culture of Textiles and the Life of the Home in Early Modern Europe’. This combined exceptional picture research and multidisciplinary approaches. He traced the relationship between textiles, textile objects and our understanding of images of the household. The wide ranging study captured the shifting nature of material culture as a reflection of wealth and taste through time and space.

Tricia Allerston (National Galleries of Scotland ) presented on the subject: ‘Renting Furnishings for the Venetian Renaissance Home- Typical Behaviour’. She interpreted the considerable level and variety of rented furnishings in Venice in the 17th century using the records of Jewish rental merchants. She showed that the considerable level of commercial activity around rental reflected cultural attitudes toward textiles. Textiles were a symbol of wealth and prestige and, by looking at what visitors to Venice chose to rent much was revealed about attitudes to furnishings and to the importance of household presentation.

David Mitchell ( London ) spoke on ‘Colour preference in English furnishings’ in the early modern period. He compared changing fashions in bed and wall hangings to examine the influence of colour and its reflection in furnishing fashions over time. Drawing upon probate inventories, David Mitchell’s detailed analysis by value, and by fabric type and colour revealed much about the meaning of, and reaction to, colour and changes in dyeing fashion and technology.

Margaret Ponsonby, (University of Wolverhampton ) presented a paper covering ‘Making the Home, 1750-1850: Textiles in use, Display and Storage’. She focused on urban and rural households in the West Midlands . The paper considered window and bed curtains in particular and showed showed how textiles recorded in inventories were very much a reflection of the changing priorities of domesticity.

Mary Brooks, (Textile Conservation Centre, University of Southampton )spoke on ‘Conservation and Context: Insights into a Chippendale Bed Cornice’. This paper gave an unusual insight into the way in which revelations from the conservation process can facilitate an understanding of the cultural context of textiles. The piece of bed cornice in question came from Harewood House in Yorkshire . Mary Brooks showed the way in which conservation analysis and archival research altered the understanding of the biography of the object and the design of home furnishings.

Sarah Cheang's paper on ‘Dragons in the Drawing Room: Chinese Embroideries in British Homes, 1860-1940’ showed how embroideries from Chinese clothing were sold through department stores to adorn household furnishings. Her study demonstrated how this practice projected narratives of colonial conquest into homes. A major source was her study of the furnishings at Quex House in Kent .

A wide range of common themes emerged from the symposium including the interplay between material objects, culture and consumption, the importance of visual images in understanding the shifting position of textiles in daily life, and the relationship between economic, social and historical forces in understanding textile design. This excellent day also highlighted the importance of multidisciplinary symposia of this kind where textile conservators, museum curators and academic historians can share a range of perspectives on a carefully specified theme.

A particularly valuable element of the conference was the three lunch time break- out sessions. These introduced the visual database of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Centre, the Museum’s Word and Image Study, and the Textile Store of the V & A.
The session on the visual database of the AHRC Centre for the Study of the Domestic Interior (co-hosted by the V&A, the Royal College of Art and Royal Holloway) was led by Liz Miller, Flora Dennis and James Hall. Delegates were offered an overview of the way that the database had been researched and constructed and advice on how its content might be used by researchers in the field of textile history.

The sessions on the Museum's Word and Image Study Room, led by Mor Thunder, and Textiles Store, led by Clare Browne, gave delegates a chance to view examples of textiles, and textile designs, relating to the day's papers. These ranged from Renaissance Italian lace pattern books, and designs for printed cotton furnishings by the late 18th century pattern-drawer William Kilburn, to 17th century bed valances of 'wrought dimity', and Norwich worsted furnishing damasks.

Other recent conferences have included:

October 2004

Business Networks in Textile Industrial Districts, University of Nottingham, International Business History Institute

September 2003

Clothing for Extremes, jointly sponsored by KIMMlite and organised in collaboration with Mountain Heritage Trust.

April 2002

Textile Matters: Object Based Research. The Contribution of Conservation to Textile History and Research, Textile Conservation Centre, Winchester Campus, University of Southampton

October 2001

Textiles and the Arts and Crafts Movment, Centre for North West Regional Studies, Lancaster University

March 2000

Textile Mill Building and Architecture in the 18th and 19th Centuries, Masson Mill, Matlock Bath

March 1999

The Legacy of Hosiery, in collaboration with Leicester City Museum Service.

April 1998 

Linen in Europe, Lisburn