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Bolaji V. Campbell

Nigerian sculptor and textile artist. He started out as a bricklayer and received no formal training. One of his earliest commissions was for 12 cement pieces for Ulli Beier’s Mbari-Mbayo Club at Oshogbo. He exhibited internationally in the 1960s and 1970s and is best known for his public pieces, such as openwork cement screens based on Yoruba doors (...

Article

Pamela Elizabeth Grimaud

French fashion designer, of Tunisian birth. Alaïa is renowned for his ‘second skin’ fashions and masterful cutting techniques (see fig.). Christened the ‘King of Cling’ by fashion journalists, Alaïa rose to prominence in the 1980s following years of realizing commissions for a loyal and select clientele. His designs are modern, overtly feminine in their celebration of the female form and, in Alaïa’s own words: ‘not sexy, voluptuous’. Alaïa’s sculpted fashions have been known to render other designers’ fashions unwearable—they simply feel too large in comparison....

Article

Egyptian, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active in the USA.

Born 1963, in Cairo.

Draughtswoman, embroiderer.

Ghada Amer grew up in Paris. She studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Nice before travelling to the USA where she attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She lives and works in both New York and Paris. In 2005 she was Artist in Residence at Kansas City Art Institute....

Article

Chika Okeke-Agulu

American painter, sculptor, fibre and installation artist of Egyptian birth. Amer, one of the few young artists of African origin to gain prominence in the late 1990s international art scene, studied painting in France at the Villa Arson EPIAR, Nice (MFA, 1989), and the Institut des Hautes Etudes en Art Plastique, Paris (...

Article

Gordon Campbell

Unwoven cloth made from the bast (inner bark) of a tree. It is also known as ‘tapa’, with reference to the Polynesian bark cloth made from the bark of the paper mulberry and used for clothing. There is a huge collection of Polynesian bark cloth in the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu. In sub-Saharan Africa bark cloth was traditionally decorated with free-hand painting applied with grass brushes, and was used for room-dividers and screens as well as clothing. Its widest application was in Japan, where bark cloth was used for windows, screens, kites, flags and umbrellas....

Article

South African, 20th–21st century, male.

Active in France.

Born 11 August 1962, in Johannesburg.

Printmaker, choreographer, performance artist. Identity politics.

Living Art.

Steven Cohen was the first South African artist under apartheid to create confrontational performance art engaging with sexual and cultural identity. He began his career in the 1980s, while conscripted into the South African army, when he went absent without leave and learnt how to screenprint at Cape Town’s Ruth Prowse School of Art....

Article

Ann Poulson

Greek fashion designer based in Paris. Dessès was born in Egypt to Greek parents and arrived in Paris in the 1920s to study law and diplomacy. By 1925 he had changed his mind and was employed as a designer for Maison Jane. He left Maison Jane to open his own couture house in ...

Article

Esna  

John Baines

Egyptian city c. 55 km south of Luxor on the Nile. Inhabited since ancient times, Esna remains important as the terminus of one of the main caravan routes between Egypt and the Sudan, and as a centre of textile production. The only ancient building to survive is part of the Greco-Roman Temple of Khnum, but Deir Manayus wa Shuhada (the ‘Monastery of the Martyrs’), a 4th-century ...

Article

Fustian  

Gordon Campbell

Coarse cloth made with a cotton weft and a flax warp, first made in Egypt in the 2nd century ad and then revived in England in the 18th century. From the 19th century the term has denoted a thick, twilled, cotton cloth with a short pile or nap, usually dyed an olive or leaden colour....

Article

Beth Dincuff Charleston

American fashion designer. Few designers have managed to be as influential as Norma Kamali without extensive press coverage. Specializing in ready-to-wear garments, Kamali introduced the world to the concepts of high-heeled sneakers and mix-and-match bikinis, originated the ‘sleeping bag’ coat and was the first designer to see the wide sartorial possibilities of both sweatshirt jersey and parachute silk (...