Skip to main content

Textile Arts of Peru - Weavers of the Clouds at Fashion & Textile Museum

Frances has many years' experience writing about exhibitions in art galleries and museums.

Sequined Waistcoat

Sequined waistcoat.

Sequined waistcoat.

Weavers of the Clouds -Textile Arts of Peru - Exhibition at Fashion & Textile Museum

Established by iconic British designer Zandra Rhodes, London’s Fashion and Textile Museum has an international reputation for fascinating and informative exhibitions exploring contemporary fashion and textiles from all over the world.

Weavers of the Clouds showcases the wonderfully vibrant textile arts of Peru. Featuring rarely seen items from public museums and private collections, the exhibition includes tapestries, paintings, photographs and illustrations as well as full costumes and accessories. Also on show are fine examples of sequin work, embroidery, hand woven trimming, sequin work, applique, crotchet and knitwear.

Exploring a variety of different methods and traditions Weavers of the Clouds charts Peru’s long history of textile arts from the distant past to the remarkable colourful 21st century.


Design by Naeem Khan Inspired by a Visit to Peru in 2017

Design by Naeem Khan inspired by a visit to Peru - silk, satin, velvet, breads.

Design by Naeem Khan inspired by a visit to Peru - silk, satin, velvet, breads.

Highlights of the Exhibition

The history of Peruvian textile creation stretches back through the centuries and every region has its own distinctive techniques and designs. The exhibition features machine embroidery from the Colca Valley, floral embroidery from Ayacucho in the South West, felting created in the North, weaving produced in the Central Highlands and knitwear originating in the Highlands.

Although these production methods date back to 800 AD their influence across the centuries is still very apparent. It can be seen in the work of fashion designers such as Vivienne Westwood and Naeem Khan as well as the work of Bauhaus designers such as Anni Albers and Gunta Stolzl.

Postcard Portrait by Martin Chambi

Portrait postcard by Martin Chambi

Portrait postcard by Martin Chambi

Martin Chambi’s Studio Re-created

Latin American photographer Martin Chambi was one of the first photographers to create portraits of the indigenous peoples of the Peruvian Andes. He sold these portraits in the form of black and white postcards, a selection of which are on display in a re-creation of his studio. Through these images we learn about the indigenous population of Cuzco and their costumes and traditions.

Martin Chambi

A Thread - Contemporary Art of Peru

A Thread – Contemporary Art of Peru looks at the work of 17 ground-breaking contemporary Peruvian artists.

Claudia Trosso, guest curator of A Thread, tells us: “This exhibition allows us to reflect on the practice of weaving and embroidery, the manipulation and transformation of textiles, the flexibility of non-textile materials and the artistic techniques that contemporary Peruvian artists implement to create a new medium.”

Silvana Pestana, Paiche Mantle

Mantle by Silvana Pestana uses paiche scales.

Mantle by Silvana Pestana uses paiche scales.

Interview with Claudia Trosso

Claudia Trosso spoke exclusively to Frances Spiegel about some of the works on display:

FS: I particularly like Silvana Pestana’s Paiche Mantle and I’m sure readers would like to know more about this artist and her work.

Pestana combines installations, murals, painting, sculptures, photography and tapestry. In the last five years, the artist has been exploring the Peruvian rain forest and its mysteries, bringing us closer to the Amazon through her artistic language.

Her work narrates the transformation suffered by these cultures in their desire for survival, in some cases by imposition, extirpation of idolatries and other processes of domination.

One of her subject matters is related to the illegal mining which takes place in the Amazon and its effects on the environment and its people. Pestana recovers paiche flakes (the largest flaky fish in the world, native to the Amazon river) to weave new skins. The artist also works with Amazonian tree bark to create mantles fully covered with geometrical symbols referencing ancient textiles from the Andes.

Scroll to Continue

FS: Silvana’s Paiche Mantle is paired with another beautiful item, Cecilia Paredes’ Flying South. I am fascinated by this dress. Can you tell us about Paredes and her work?

Claudia: Paredes is a multimedia artist known for her images of camouflaged bodies against patterned surfaces.

The artist frequently utilises natural elements, often recycled waste materials and primarily organic ones. In this show, we admire her beautiful dark blue, green and brown dress made of pheasant and peacock feathers, from The Flight Series. For the artist the use of feathers is related with the idea of rebellion and freedom.

(Ancient Peruvians used feathers in their costumes, garments and as adornments to figures of Christ; feathers were the way to communicate with the divine. During the Spanish colonisation, Peruvians were forbidden to use feathers as a threat to Catholicism cult). Flying is also a topic very much used in Paredes’ work. It represents relocation and liberty.

FS: The third item that particularly struck me is Jesus Pedraglio’s Inka Space. He uses thread and copper to create extraordinary mobile structures but what else can you tell us about this artist?

Claudia: Jesus Pedraglio works with thread and interprets it in hundreds of ways with other non-traditional materials such as nylon or copper.

Over the years, the artist became obsessed with space, making this the frame to carry out his artistic exploration and his main inspiration to create airborne sculptures.

Influenced by kinetic art, his experimentation with materials, volume and space, have resulted in hanging structures that show movement and an aesthetic composition.

For the artist, the constant use of nodes on his sculptures represent how tangled we feel as human beings when we experience personal issues that make us feel troubled.

Cecilia Paredes, Flying South 2018

Cecilia Paredes' dress features pheasant and peacock feathers.

Cecilia Paredes' dress features pheasant and peacock feathers.

Jesus Pedraglio - Inka Space, 2019

Curator Claudia Trosso stands beside Inka Space, a mobile structure made with copper and thread.

Curator Claudia Trosso stands beside Inka Space, a mobile structure made with copper and thread.

Inspiring Young Designers

The Fashion & Textile Museum is especially known for its work with young designers. The exhibition draws our attention to a collaboration between third year BA (Hons) Textile Design students at Chelsea College of Arts and Peruvian brand, KUNA. Students were invited to submit a collection of textiles inspired by Peruvian designs and methods and the winning items, selected by Dame Zandra Rhodes, are on show.

Weavers of the Clouds is open at the Fashion & Textile Museum, 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF, from 21st June to 8th September 2019.

Kaidi Ning - The Lines, 2018

Kaidi Ning's contribution, The Lines,  was selected by Zandra Rhodes.

Kaidi Ning's contribution, The Lines, was selected by Zandra Rhodes.

Weaving in the Peruvian Highlands

Getting to the Fashion & Textile Museum

© 2019 Frances Spiegel


Cecilia Paredes on February 21, 2020:

Thanks for highlighting my work Francis!

Frances Spiegel (author) from Wembley UK on June 22, 2019:

This is a very interesting exhibition and I will probably go to see it again.

Related Articles