Thursday, 17 September 2009

On the clothesline. Romanian Dowry

Quick post to let you know about an exhibition taking place over the next couple of weeks at the Romanian Cultural Institute in Belgrave Square in London until 25 September.

"On the clothesline", features a selection of textile artefacts from the amazing Museum of the Romanian Peasant, a collaborator on the sampler project. It explores the twice yearly ritual of cleaning the precious dowry textiles.

To quote directly from the website:

"Romanians keep their treasures indoors. Having a treasure room, the good room, the ruda room, filled with hand-made textile, clothes, carpets, items that are always displayed yet never used, is a must for any well-off Romanian peasant. This is the dowry of the woman and preserving it is a matter of pride and hard-work. Twice a year these treasures are taken outdoors to be cleaned and freshened up. They are washed at the river or at the water whirlpool, they are hung on the clothesline, ironed, treated for moths and arranged again on display in the good room. All these procedures can last as long as a week; as they say, it takes hard work to have a good room.
The good room, the ruda room in Northern Romania, is in itself an exhibition. An exhibition of the best and most beautiful items the family possesses. The exhibiting technique, if one can speak of it, is crowding. All the more crowded the good room is, all the more beautiful it is considered: carpets, pillows, tablecloths, linen, towels, icons, decorated plates, the more, the better!

This exhibition borrows from the village a form of display that the peasant does not consider as such. Hanging the precious family dowry on the clothesline is not a form of exhibiting it; it is only a necessary annual ritual. Still, the foreigner, the ethnographer, is fascinated by the display of textile on the clothesline. There (s)he can see and feel the fine details, the thread, the coloured models, the hand-made linen. It is only once a year that the treasures of the good room can be thus observed. For the rest of the year, they are hidden, one on top of the other, in the crowded museum that is the good room.

This is your chance to admire them from a close distance. Don't be afraid to touch them if you feel the need to, but bear in mind their beauty is also their fragility and old age. "
(Romanian Peasant Museum)

I hope to make it along in the next few days, and will let you know what I think, and if you're in London please go along to support the project and let me know what you think too. x

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