The Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) just acquired the greatest single collection of Indian trade textiles in the world: The Roger Hollander Collection. The museum has 70 important pieces from the collection on show now until 3 June, in a blockbuster exhibition entitled “Patterns of Trade: Indian Textiles for Export 1400 – 1900″. If you’re changing planes in Singpore soon, seize the opportunity and see this show.
Synaptic Strap No. 1: Indonesia. A tremendous number of truly ancient Indian trade textiles have been discovered in Indonesia during the past 30 years. With improvements in carbon-14 dating techniques, a number of examples (notably, from Torajaland and Timor) have turned out to be at least 600 years old. You can see some of them at the ACM now. Think about that a second. These cloths (with still-beautiful patterns and colours) were made during the Majapahit era, when Java’s ancient monuments were new, kings were rolling in gold, and legends were being lived and written.
Synaptic Strap No. 2: Roger Hollander. Roger, who personally gathered together the textiles now in ACM’s collection was a dear friend. See my previous blog post about the sale of his ranch in Wyoming to Bill Gates (who lives just a paddle down the beach from my parents). Some of the textiles in the ACM collection were formerly in mine and have made their way (via Roger) back to the region where they were valued and displayed as prestige pieces for centuries.
Synaptic Strap No. 3: Macan Tidur Textiles. I still have quite a number of ancient Indian trade textiles in my collection, and this exhibition has spurred me to review them now, and to photograph them.
Synaptic Strap No. 4: Typography. If you are hypersensitive to typography and its influence, as I am, and can “hear” the type in a book as a voice when you read, you’ll appreciate this. Through my exploration of the Patterns of Trade exhibition and its catalog, I stumbled upon a stronghold of typographic talent, in Relay Room, the Singapore studio that designed the identity, typography, print and other media for the exhibition. They did a truly fine job. Respect.