Womanhood Threads and Traces
The love and insight Agapi Sbokou (1914-2007) employs to compose her personal collection of Cretan hand-woven textiles is lavishly displayed at the “Womanhood Threads and Traces” exhibition, taking place at Cretan Malia Park, between May 18th and November 5th.
Curation by Katerina Nikolaou
Scientific advisor Vassiliki Panayotopoulou
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Spinning, slubbing; notions inextricably threaded into Agapi Sbpokou’s daily routine, as the art of weaving has always been her predominant source of inspiration, being herself a weaver. In this exhibition however, it is her entrepreneurial prowess that comes into focus for the first time with a cartography of her idea to organise a nucleus of fellow-weavers which in turn birthed a new network of threads and notions. One of thread’s properties is to connect and bind together different objects. Similarly, Agapi Sbokou assembled and helped the women in her region to access the job market, thusly keeping the Cretan art of weaving alive from the 1950s all through the 1980s.
In Crete these were mainly the works of women and depending on their intended use were split into two categories: clothing and household. The particular collection features works that have a utility function either for the household’s needs or its decoration.
“Patanias” are amongst the most distinct handicrafts of Cretan weaving art and a major chapter in the art form’s history. Kilims which are essentially heavy beddings characteristically ornate with colourful geometrical shapes are also significant. “Vourgies” and “anapla” which were instrumental tools for the villagers working their fields, constituted a symbol of masculinity as well as women’s good housekeeping.
The textiles exhibited do not cover but reveal the artisan skillfulness of that period’s women, while at the same time reflect their unfeigned creativity. A creativity which varies from region to region and is uniquely expressed as much on the designs themselves as on the clarity and harmony of the colours’ combinations, allowing the viewer to feel an intricately threaded and deeply nuanced world.