As early as 1846, the Vlisco company, based in Helmond, served the West African market with Dutch Wax textiles. From 29 January through 6 May, 2012, the Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem will present Six Yards Guaranteed Dutch Design, an exhibition about how Vlisco’s Dutch textiles became a part of various West African cultures and found their way into international fashion, the visual arts, and photography.
The exhibition Six Yards is a tribute to Vlisco textiles: over a hundred years old, born in Indonesia, designed in the Netherlands, loved in Africa, and desired in the West. These colourful fabrics make their way to fashion shows in Paris, the markets in Ghana, and galleries in London and New York. The exhibition Six Yards focuses on all the relevant angles, from their presence and meaning in the work of artist Yinka Shonibare, to the stories in the oral tradition that have come from the fabrics. The exhibition explores the history of the textiles and their stories, touches on Dutch (post-)colonial history, takes a look at the differences and similarities between Western and non-Western cultures, and sheds light on how visual artists, like Viviane Sassen and Yinka Shonibare, as well as top designers around the world have been inspired by Vlisco’s textiles.