Material Power Palestinian Embroidery
Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery
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Tabari Artspace (Dubai) is currently housing Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery, an exhibition dedicated to the art of embroidery, a crucial cultural practice of Palestine. Curated by Rachel Dedman (a curator, writer, and art historian), it has been organised by The Whitworth Gallery (The University of Manchester, UK) in collaboration with Kettle’s Yard (The University of Cambridge, UK), where it was presented for the first time last year. The show in Dubai will be open to the public until the 7th of April, 2024.

Detail of dress from Deir Tareef, 1940s. From the collection of Maha Abu Shosheh.
Courtesy of the Whitworth, The University of Manchester. Photo: Ruth Wedgbury.

Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery explores this beautiful ancient craft (tatreez in Arabic) and how it has evolved over the past 100 years. Historically, each area of Palestine boasted its particular motifs, techniques, and textiles. Practised by rural women, embroidery was their visual language: embroidered clothes reflected their origins and identity. So initially a village tradition, the embroidery art was changed by modernity and later became a symbol of resistance and resilience on personal and national scales.

Detail of dress from Beit Dajan, 1930s. From the collection of George M. Al-Ama.
Courtesy of the Whitworth, The University of Manchester. Photo: Ruth Wedgbury.

The show displays more than 40 dresses (they are called thobes) and other embroidered items from Whitworth’s internationally important collection which includes about 25,000 dresses and textile objects from across the globe. Some exhibits are loaned from prominent collections in Jordan, and the West Bank. The show’s edition at Tabari Artspace is also enriched by rare archival materials (photos and videos that show embroiderers in action and them speaking about their work).

Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery (installation view).
Kettle’s Yard, The University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England, 2023.

In the exhibition, visitors can also look at art pieces created by five contemporary art practitioners who reinterpret the embroidery practice. These are Mona Hatoum (a Palestinian-British installation and video artist), Khalil Rabah (a Palestinian conceptual artist), Mounira Al Solh (a Lebanese-Dutch artist), Aya Haidar (a British-Lebanese artist), Majd Abdel-Hamid (a Palestinian artist), and Maeve Brennan (an Irish artist, filmmaker, and writer).

To get more information about Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery, please visit the official web page of the exhibition.

You might also be interested in visiting Sheher, Prakriti, Devi at Ishara Art Foundation.