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The CIETA Congress

Dyestuffs and Colours in Textiles – Materiality and Significance

Conventions where we meet in person to discuss research and objects and also visit textile collections together have always been part of the CIETA’s activities. Every other year, the CIETA invites its members to an international congress defined by a general theme. The congresses are held in different cities, usually in the end of September or the beginning of October. Over three days, papers introduce the participants to ongoing projects, the results of cutting edge research, important collections and individual textile objects. Visits and gallery talks complement the programme, and on an additional excursion day the participants are invited to museums and treasuries in the area.

Recent congresses have been held in:

  • 2017 – The State Hermitage, St. Petersburg: “Power, Rank and Status – Textiles and Representation”
  • 2015 – Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin: “Textiles in Transfer and Transformation“
  • 2013 – Musées des Tissus et des Arts Décoratifs, Lyon “The History of Textile Collections and Textile Research”
  • 2011 – The National Museum, Copenhagen: “Cultural Encounters in Textiles and Costume between Northern Europe and the World”
  • 2009 – Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire, Brussels: “Textiles in Trade (woven textiles, lace, tapestries…)”

The 28th CIETA congress will be held from 7 to 10 October at the Deutsches Textilmuseum, Krefeld (Germany). A Call for Papers invited the CIETA members to submit proposals on the general theme: Dyestuffs and Colours in Textiles – Materiality and Significance.

The invention of aniline dyestuffs in the middle of the 19th century caused a revolutionary change in textile production and fashion, making textiles of a wide range of colours available to new groups of consumers. Until then, dyestuffs had been costly commodities, some of them traded across long distances, even from one continent to another. In the hands of an experienced dyer, the precious substances could create beautiful effects, enhancing the inherent qualities of wool, silk, linen or cotton and contributing to their absorbing or reflecting light. Workshops or production centres could specialize in individual colours; preferences for certain colours or colour schemes characterized periods and places. In subtle shades or bold statements, coloured textiles were appreciated both as materials for dress and accessories, and for the furnishing of sacred and secular spaces. They could also constitute a language, indicating different levels in a hierarchy, allegiances to rulers, religious orders, political parties or sports teams, or the events in a liturgical calendar. An important element of heraldry, colours and colour combinations represent families, towns or countries and also guilds, brotherhoods and other social groups. To the present day, coloured textiles serve as media of communication, transmitting codes and statements to an audience. In recent times, the long-term effects of the degradation of dyestuffs and mordants in textiles have proved challenging, both in the conservation of textile objects and in their appreciation by specialists and the general public.

The CIETA members were invited to send in proposals for the congress until 15 September 2018.

Preliminary programme

Proposals had to be submitted before 15 September 2018. A vetting committee has selected papers and developed the programme for the congress. The CIETA members will next receive additional information concerning the organization of the congress and the programme of excursions.

Preliminary programme PDF (139.77 KB)