Yesterday I visited the press presentation of the new exhibition No Words But Threads at the Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam. I would like to take you to this special place by the water, in a beautiful old building. Be amazed by the incredible diversity of handmade embroideries that show how embroidery is not only an expression of culture, identity and fashion, but also a language in itself through which people tell stories.
This unique exhibition, which opens its doors June 8, 2023, showcases a wealth of embroidery from the museum’s own collection, from people around the world. It highlights the multifaceted meaning of embroidery, as a document that tells stories, and as a reflection of both group and individual identity. “Not Words but Threads” sheds light on the often unknown makers, who with love, patience and skill have created and continue to create these beautiful works.
The moving story of Saïda
I found it remarkable that several artists were present at the press presentation to personally explain their work. Moving was the story of Saïda Bennoude Azzabi (1952) who, born in the Moroccan city of Fez, lives in Veghel and for fifty years has privately built up an oeuvre in the traditional Tarz embroidery technique. How extraordinary that a woman does this while living far away from her native soil, behind closed doors without anyone enjoying her work? For the first time, some of her work can be admired in this exhibition.
Great also to meet Zyanya Keizer! Although we both had a studio in Arnhem for a while, we had never spoken to each other. Too bad I don’t have a picture of her beautifully embroidered pantsuit. For that you will really have to go to Rotterdam yourself. It is very worthwhile.
With this exhibition, the Wereldmuseum Rotterdam responds to recent developments in society, in which embroidery has gained renewed significance as a valuable activity and an essential part of “slow living” – living consciously and attentively in the here and now. It is therefore nice that interactive elements have been added to the exhibition, allowing visitors to experience embroidery as an activity as well. The museum collection is an inspiration and one cannot help but take in with admiration the technical ingenuity with which these works were created.
Each embroidery is the work of the hands of talented women and men, whose names are often unknown. The anonymity of artisans stands in stark contrast to the way artists are named. In this exhibition, therefore, an effort has been made to identify and name the makers as much as possible.
This exhibition, “Not words but threads,” impressively shows how works of art were created out of love, patience and resilience. It proves that this art form is timeless and still alive and kicking. Don’t miss it!
“Geen woorden maar draden – borduren” van 8 juni tot en met 22 oktober 2023 in the Wereldmuseum Rotterdam.