“Heritage textiles are the ancestors’ way of weaving”: a tribe of artisans returns to the roots | People

At dusk, on the imposing terrace of the Es Baluard Museum, right on the seafront of Palma, a woman tries on a hat and looks flirtatious in the mirror. It is made of Florentine wheat straw and is handmade by the artisan Ana Lamata, who has her workshop in Madrid. The table with the carefully unfolded hats and turbans is surrounded by other displays, with colorful organic cotton dresses, wool cushions or jute bags. They are part of the sample of 45 local and international artisans who exhibit and sell their products at the global meeting of heritage textile crafts XTANT 2021 that is held until June 26 in Palma and which also offers talks, handicraft demonstrations and an exhibition of tissues in the nearby Casal Balaguer.

“Heritage textiles is the way of weaving of the ancestors, it is a language that showed where you came from, who you were and what you felt. The Industrial Revolution broke it and now everything is absorbed by the fashion industry, which dominates the language and controls it ”, explains Kavita Parmar, designer and textile expert who, together with her partner Marcella Echavarría and the Contemporary Association of Arts and Crafts, promotes this interesting global meeting. His initial project to promote the traceability of clothing items and give their place to the artisan resulted in the label Who made my clothes (Who made my clothes), which through social networks tried to recover the humanity that had been lost with industrialization. An adventure that was not very successful for three years until the 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh, a complex that housed numerous textile workshops in the capital Dhaka in which 1,134 workers died and caused a change in many people who began to take an interest in the process of creating your garments. A work of activism that, for Parmar, can only be done day by day “with your tribe” and that they decided to take to various parts of the world in this format.

Image of the Xtan craft fair organized at the Es Baluart Museum of Modern Art, in Palma, on June 23, 2021.
Image of the Xtan craft fair organized at the Es Baluart Museum of Modern Art, in Palma, on June 23, 2021.FRANCISCO UBILLA

The remoteness of big industry, handmade garments and natural materials are the soul of the eclectic show. Irene Peukes, designer and artisan, works footwear and some clothing items for her Pla brand. The shoes are made of jute braided with cotton, with a natural rubber sole and sustainable felt, while the garments are hand-woven in Guatemala. “I try to unite the crafts of the world with the know-how of Mallorca,” he says. Alongside her, Araceli Iranzo exhibits the bags and purses made of Mallorcan palm hearts, which she herself collects, dries and braids through her brand Antic Mallorca. It collects the abandoned tradition of the town of Capdepera, which before the boom tourist lived by taking advantage of this material. “They are baskets and bags that last a lifetime, it takes 25 or 30 hours to make them. The quality is much higher than what comes from other countries, which has nothing to do with color or consistency, “he says.

Nearby is Carmen María Castañeda, who studied Fine Arts and after a time in Paris specialized in haute couture embroidery techniques. He discovered that they were always applied to fashion but the sensitive side was not captured, that of the languages ​​that create the materials and drawings. “I started with accessories that helped me to experiment with embroidery and then I realized that I did not need a garment or a pattern to conceptually develop my work,” she says. Now she is focused on contemporary artistic crafts under the name of Anónima by CM and works with embroidery on canvas, organza and vegetable paper, experiencing “the imperfection of technique” with the crochet de Luneville, a method that does not allow the craftsman to see what he is embroidering and that helps him push the fabrics to the limit.

Buyers at the Xtant craft fair, organized at the Es Baluart Museum of Modern Art in Palma, on June 23, 2021.
Buyers at the Xtant craft fair, organized at the Es Baluart Museum of Modern Art in Palma, on June 23, 2021.Francisco Ubilla

In another of the exhibitors you can admire the colorful fabrics that Oceane shows and that come from Burkina Faso. Ethical Fashion Initiative works with organic cotton from the African country, where the fabrics for the garments and the dolls on display are manufactured. Fabrics that, according to Oceane, later come to garments and accessories from firms such as Loewe or Camper. The typical tongue cloth Mallorquina, used for furniture, bags or shoes, this year was the focal point of this ephemeral event on the island. A textile that, like the rest of the garments in the sample, represents Parmar’s concept of luxury: “Luxury is something that is scarce, that takes time. And that, without a doubt, is what craftsmanship is ”, he concludes.