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Cypriot textiles - techniques, materials, patterns, uses and the importance of dowry textiles

20th MARCH 2019 at 7pm

Cypriot Alatzia Fabric - Woman's Dress
Mary Spyrou will discuss a folk art tradition which experienced a decline from around the middle of the 20th century

The talk will look at a variety of Cypriot textile traditions including weaving, embroidery and lace making, which are now listed under the UNESCO Intangible cultural heritage of Cyprus.

Cyprus is located in the eastern corner of the Mediterranean sea, at the cross roads where the west meets the east, settled, conquered and occupied by many civilisations, including Byzantines, Venetians and Ottomans, all of whom have had an influence on the development of the artistic heritage of Cyprus.

The raw materials used - silk, cotton,wool, flax and linen ; the designs and patterns inspired by nature, and the many items made, including garments and domestic furnishings, for example, and especially their role and importance as dowry textiles, part of a rich Folk art tradition which experienced a decline from around the middle of the 20th century will be the main focus of the talk.

I am a second generation London born Cypriot, brought up surrounded by a community involved in the garment industry and tailoring. But it is the heritage textiles of diverse societies, which I first saw, housed in museums that grew my interest and passion for hand crafted textiles. 

Since graduating in textiles from the Royal College of Art in 1984 I have worked in education, as a lecturer and textile artist.  I have exhibited my works in a variety of venues, including RIBA, The Art Workers Guild and The Oxford Gallery.


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