At one time Great Britain clothed the world. In the 1880s, when the British textile industry was at its height, 85 percent of the world’s population wore clothing made from fabric produced in the mills of Lancashire. From 1910 to 1913 alone, seven billion yards of cloth were folded, stamped, labeled, and baled. Most of this output was for export, and 30 percent of it went to India.
British textile manufacturers selling into the competitive Indian market were dealing with a largely illiterate population. In order to differentiate their goods, they stamped their cloth with distinctive images—a crouching tiger or perhaps an elephant standing on top of a globe. When chromolithography came into widespread use in the late 1800s, illustrated paper labels (known in the trade as “shipper’s tickets”) made to appeal to the local people were added. Designed, printed, and registered in Manchester, these brightly colored images were pasted onto the pieces of cloth being sold, further helping to establish a company’s brand. Hindu gods, native animals, scenes from the great Indian epics—the Mahabharata and Ramayana—and views of everyday life were common subjects. In a sense a form of premium, they provided the consumer with an additional incentive to buy the goods of a particular firm.
Labels of Empire begins with the late 19th-century heyday of British textile manufacturing and closes with Indian independence in 1947. By combining visual narrative, popular culture, and magical realism in a way never done before, this book offers an unprecedented look at the British textile industry in the time of the Raj—and its remarkably successful use of paper labels as trademarks.
Forged in the crucible of family tragedy, Edgar Jerins’ monumental charcoal drawings are a towering achievement of contemporary American art. Arthur Miller commanded “Attention must be paid” and in these meticulously observed images, the artist does exactly that.
His middle American subjects have been buffeted by a sea of troubles, sometimes of their own causing. Jerins brilliantly and movingly captures friends and family members at a moment when all denial has been stripped away. There is no irony here, no flippant art world in-jokes, no smug condescension and certainly no sentimentality. Jerins shows us the redemptive power of suffering, the quiet heroism of the American spirit, and our refusal to give up no matter the odds against us.
The difficulties his subjects have with relationships, money, health, aging, substance abuse, violence, and death are part of the human condition that we Americans all know too well.
With unflinching honesty and the kind of empathy only known by fellow travelers, Edgar Jerins brings a new realism to American art. His art is not just about life, it is life.
By Western Hands celebrates the history of rustic design—from the Adirondacks and National Park “parkitecture” style to the work of legendary western furnituremaker Thomas Molesworth—and describes its evolution to the art form it is today, one that is born of an individual artisan’s creative process and uniquely inspired by place.
The book includes leading voices in the movement, features original examples of bespoke mountain and rustic interiors, and showcases one-of-a-kind artworks from fifty of the best rustic and western decorative artisans working today.
By Western Hands; Functional Art from the Heart of the West is at once a history, a compendium and a curated showcase full of design inspiration, whether one owns a rustic, western or country home, or simply dreams of one.
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