Travelling and Textiles – a perfect mix!

Travelling and Textiles – a perfect mix!

It’s summer time here in Ireland and the living is, well, slightly more laid back than the norm.  Having decided to metaphorically kick off the shoes for the month of July, I thought it might be nice just to “see and share ” rather than “do” and this forms the basis of my post.

Before I start on the main focus of this post (my holiday in Italy),   I just have to show you a beautiful piece that totally blew me away.  Before heading off, I visited Dublin’s Botanical Gardens.  Founded in 1795, it is an oasis of calm for any visitor and I would highly recommend a visit if you happen to be in the neighbourhood.  While there, I noticed that there was a patchwork exhibition happening in one of their exhibition spaces.  This piece just caught me, so I want to share it with you.  The artist is Ethelda Ellis and the piece is called ‘Aoife’s View’.  The curator told me that Ethelda is a medical doctor by profession.  If you would like to see more of Ethelda’s beautiful creations check out her blog:

Now, to the Italian holiday.  We headed to Como mid-July and, in spite of the heatwave, spent our time sightseeing and eating!  Our base was Como which is to the north of Italy, right beside Switzerland.  Lake Como is totally dwarfed by the Alps – a really beautiful place.

We called into the Cathedral, the Duomo which was magnificent internally and externally.  I reckon that to appreciate all its beauty would take months observing 24/7!  I want to share with you a small area of a tapestry which was made in 1610 and which underwent restoration in 1990.  It was impossible to get a good photo of the entire masterpiece as so much detail would have been lost.  So I settled for a little!

One of our tours took us to the tiny picturesque village of Orta which is situated on Lake Orta.  It was recommended that we visit the interior of the local church which was situated at the top of a steep street.

My journey was interrupted by the sound of a piano recital and when I investigated I discovered a rather special textile exhibition happening in the same building.  The works exhibited were by Sergio Cerini.  The artist merges his early experiences in the Italian high fashion industry with his current artworks, producing beautiful pieces which are in essence a mix of paper mache and textiles.  The description does not do justice to his widely exhibited pieces and he was reluctant to allow me to photograph his work.  He did, however pose in front of one of the pieces and others can be viewed on his Instagram page @sergiocerini

Since the 1800s, the city of Como was historically the main producer of Italian silk.  When ultimately production was outsourced to China, the area was in danger of losing connection with its cultural heritage.  The large factory was bought by the Hilton hotel chain.  These photos show early paintings of the factory, what it became at the height of the industry and where it is now (apologies for the reflection on the glass):


Rather than allow the old machinery to be lost to history, a wise decision was taken about 10 years ago to set up an Educational Silk Museum to preserve these beautiful machines.  Along with displaying the machinery, some of which dates back to the nineteenth century, the museum offers interactive videos and exhibits of high fashion clothing.  Unfortunately this section was not open during my visit but I thought it might be fun to show you some of the many machines featured.  So please, grab a cuppa, sit back and I hope you enjoy the show.  I have included captions for ease of reference.


14 thoughts on “Travelling and Textiles – a perfect mix!

  1. Textile art seems to follow wherever you go, Helene! 😀 What lovely things you saw. I’m glad the machinery wasn’t lost forever – it hurts my soul to hear every time a loom or spinning wheel is destroyed simply because no one knows what to do with it…

    1. A new rendition of the song by Crowded House is coming into my head Leonor 😉
      It was a really special trip, although the heat was something to store in the memory banks. Even the locals said this!

      I actually thought of you all as I looked at the huge looms and machinery, I just knew that they would be appreciated. There’s a lovely young staff overseeing the museum so hopefully a new generation of enthusiasts is establishing itself.

  2. Thanks for taking us on vacation with you! It’s great that you got to see lots of textiles. I loved seeing all the machinery too and also thanks for the captions. Otherwise, I would have had no idea what all those different machines did. It would have been a sight to see when the factory was running full bore.

    1. Thanks Ruth. Apparently the silk factories were the main employer in the Como area for the majority of the the century. Their departure to China left a huge gap in the local economy. Tourism has partially filled it. It is a very beautiful and historical area so it’s good to see it being promoted.

    1. Isn’t it absolutely gorgeous Lyn. I checked out some of her other work and it is just as beautiful – near photo-realism but when I looked at it up close it was pieced together. She is a very talented lady.

      Delighted to have been able to share the other photos. It was an interesting journey 🙂

  3. Thank you for taking us on holiday! I loved Aoife’s view; did you get any idea of the size of the work Helene? I also looked at her other work, all of it is so beautiful, and so realistic.

    1. Thanks Marie, her work is really spectacular. I was looking at the original photo I took cm x and gauging by the size of the bio underneath I am guessing around 75cm X 35cm.

    1. Thanks Ann,
      When I saw the inside of the museum my first thought was that I had to share this place. The craftmanship on the old equipment alone was very special. All of this could so easily have been lost with the arrival of globalization. Thank goodness the towns people had the presence of mind to conserve this little piece of textile history!

  4. How I yearn to travel to all these lovely places. I hope we live long enough! In the meantime, it’s wonderful to have friends far away, that share their adventures with us. Thank you, Helene! I love the sweet piece of tapestry you captured. I can only imagine what it was like before it’s restoration. Wouldn’t that be an interesting job to have??

    1. It was a really sweet journey. Our first where we actually felt safe not to wear masks (except on the plane). We joined a lovely group of humans on our tours (same folk on every tour) which made it like old times.
      The tapestry was stunning. It is so big that it was impossible to photograph in its totality. It’s such an important part of the Duomo that the family who were responsible for its restoration now have a plaque on the tapestry. I am thinking that the small part I photographed might inspire some modern art. What do you think?

  5. A wonderful summation of your recent travels & finds. Also an amazing collection of photos some of which are inspiration in themselves.

    Thanks for sharing Helene x

    1. You are most welcome Antje. It was good to have normality return on holidays with no social distancing and everything else that has become commonplace. x

We'd love to hear your thoughts!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: