Textile art has an increasing profile, witness Phaidon’s new ‘Vitamin T: Threads & Textiles in Contemporary Art’, which presents 100 current practitioners. A logical place to see it must be the Fashion & Textile Museum in Bermondsey. ‘Weavers of the Clouds: Textile Arts of Peru’ combines Peruvian geographical and historical background with costume designs from one of the world’s oldest cultures, and brings the story up to the present with a selection of contemporary designs and recent Peruvian art. Among the interesting features are a remarkably well preserved pre-Hispanic tunic created in orange, yellow and blue macaw feathers in a highly intricate production; the uniquely Andean Scaffold weave, a process of discontinuous warp and weft to create tapestry-like designs; and the striking clothing of the Tapada Limeña, which covers up all but one eye of the wearer and was worn regularly in daily life in Lima in the 18th and 19th centuries. The older art given context by this includes some fine photographic documentation of ‘clothing in action’ – notably by Cuxco-based Martin Chambi, one of the earliest indigenous Latin American photographers, and by Mario Testino, perhaps the most famous living Peruvian. Few of the 17 contemporary artists (chosen by Claudia Trosso) are well-known in Britain – I was aware only of Ximena Garrido Lecca, Lizi Sanchez and Ishmael Randall Weeks, – but, for example, Mariella Agois’ tapestry-styled abstract painting and Ana Teresa Barboza´s merging of textile with photography are also very effective. A visit to Bermondsey (the show runs to 8 Sept) makes art and fashion sense.
Art writer and curator Paul Carey-Kent sees a lot of shows: we asked him to jot down whatever came into his head