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Migration, Adaptation, and Innovation: Two exclusive talks at The Bowes Museum

4th June 2024

The Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle will host two exclusive talks this month by members of Northumbria University, each offering a unique perspective on the creative, cultural, economic, technical impacts of migration, and the subsequent exchange of artistic skills.

The talks are a culmination of a 4-year long research project titled ‘Migration, Adaptation, Innovation 1500-1800’, funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The project was led by Northumbria University’s Associate Professor of History, Dr Felicia Gottmann and saw an extensive investigation into the role of immigration in knowledge exchange and the development of new technologies across the globe around the eve of the Industrial Revolution.

Dr Gottmann and her dedicated team collaborated with five institutions including The Bowes Museum, Durham University Oriental Museum, Shipley Art Gallery, the Jewish Museum, Berlin and German Museum of Technology, Berlin, using physical objects from their collections as another strand to their research. Community organisations and migrants of today were also engaged in conversation within this body of work around the value of immigrant skills; this has helped Dr Gottmann and her team to help develop resources for teachers, museum visitors and families.

Caption: Photo credit: Felicia Gottman

Jane Whittaker, Collections Manager at The Bowes Museum commented, “The Bowes Museum’s extensive collections of historic textiles, costume and oriental ceramics form the basis for the two talks this June and examples will be shown alongside.

“Felicia and Floris’ research will add fascinating context and a deeper understanding to objects collected by Joséphine Bowes for her museum.”

Crimes of Fashion: A story of French printed and painted textiles will be held at 2:30 on Thursday 6th June, delivered by Dr Felicia Gottmann.

The Bowes Museum holds some of the most beautiful eighteenth-century French textiles still in existence as well as numerous portraits of subjects in period clothing. This talk delves into the story behind them and how for nearly eighty years, from the late 17th to the mid-18th century, all printed and painted textiles were banned in France and how this led to a revolution in fashion and industry when import and production was legalised. Delve into a story of skulduggery: smuggling, industrial espionage, and migration and learn how this led to the beautiful fabrics we still copy and admire today.

The second talk, The International Origins of Japanese Ceramics: Korean Potters in Japan after the East Asian War of 1592-1598 will be held at 2:30 on Thursday 27th June, delivered by Northumbria University Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dr Floris van Swet.

The beautiful examples of Japanese ceramics in The Bowes Museum are a starting point for this talk which will outline the importance of Korean potters to the development of ceramics in Japan, as none would have existed without migrant knowledge and artistic skill. Discover the hidden narratives of conflict and collaboration following the East Asian War of 1592-1598 that had a profound consequence on trade, economies and national identity and shaped the world of Japanese ceramics.

These talks will appeal to enthusiasts of history and art and will unearth the untold stories behind artifacts and highlight their significance in shaping world cultures. Through a curated selection of items from The Bowes Museum’s collection that will be on display, attendees can get up close to the objects that have unearthed these captivating stories.

Book your free place* via The Bowes Museum’s website or call Reception on 01833 690606 to book.

*Included in membership or day admission.

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