Lectures are in the Play House: 10.45 for morning members: 13.30 for afternoon members.

 Thursday 17 October 2019

Shimmering Splendour: Silk in Southeast Asia

By Denise Heywood

This lecture shows the origins of silk and how it became so valuable in China that it was a source of currency. It reveals its transformation from silkworm cocoons to dyed and woven fabrics in glorious colours and complex patterns. Silk conjures up images of sartorial splendour, glamorising handsome film stars, ennobling monarchs at royal courts and enhancing dancers’ ethereal beauty. Its origins were sacred, a gift from the gods to cover holy manuscripts and protect wearers with symbols.

About the speaker…

Denise is a writer, lecturer & photographer. She worked in Cambodia in the 1990s and has been a scholar of SE Asian art ever since.  

Her books include one on the Buddhist temples of Laos, Ancient Luang Prabang and Laos, also in French, and Cambodian Dance Celebration of the Gods, with a foreword by the daughter of King Sihanouk. 

She has written for many art, literary and travel publications, from The Sunday Times to Asian Art, and has appeared on television and radio. 

She has lectured all over Britain, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Southeast Asia for organisations such as The Arts Society, The Art Fund, University of London (School of Oriental & African Studies) on their post-graduate Asian Art Course, as well as The Courtauld Gallery, British Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum and many other art institutions, universities and literary and art societies. 

She leads art tours to SE Asia and lectures on cruise ships.

Raffle Prize

This is an extremely rare copy of a fascinating book currently out of print. The Book of Silk by Philippa Scott tells the rich history of this remarkable material through five millennia, reproducing hundreds of fabrics, furnishings and garments from all parts of the world. From ancient China, where the secret of reeling silkworm cocoons was first discovered, the narrative leads by the legendary Silk Routes to Byzantium and the Islamic world, to Ottoman Turkey and India – and on to the Renaissance, and the baroque and rococo silks of western Christendom. In modern times the fashion industry yields a wonderful array of designs, from Fortuny and Balenciaga, to Poiret and Schiaparelli.