KASPIA’S Caravanis the intriguing name of a new pop-up exhibition at Sydney’s Yellow House. The “hippie era” Potts Point venue was renowned in the 1970s as a “living” gallery (including walls, ceilings and doors) for an artists’ collective that included Martin Sharp and Brett Whiteley.
Now, in collaboration with Michael Prato of Afghan Interiors, local blogger and inveterate traveller Kaspia is using the space, in nomadic market fashion, to feature tribal wares sourced from remote areas in Central Asia, including Afghanistan.
The collection, which has been collated across more than 20 years, includes finely crafted village-made homewares, embroidered and woven cushions, rugs, jewellery, ethnic fashion and traditional adornments, wall-hangings, textiles and uniquely crafted furniture, each piece with a particular provenance.
“Rugs are in the same category as literature and art,” Kaspia says of the inherent stories of these items. “On my many journeys to remote parts of the world I always look out for rugs because of what they say about the people who live in those locations … their history and their present day, all woven into the carpets … like a life documented in moments and motifs.”
The intrepid Kaspia remembers staying in Pashtun villages on the Afghan border just months before 9/11. “My memories of sitting on rope-bed charpoys watching locals crowded on tribal rugs and giant kelim cushions recite poetry in the firelight can’t be forgotten. There are plenty of baby boomers who were on the hippie paths of Central Asia in the 1960s and 70s who would have similar recollections.”
Kaspia hopes many of those hippie-era travellers will want to bring those memories to life in their homes by purchasing items from her “caravan”. She has worked with artist James Gulliver Hancock on the styling of the Yellow House space, especially the main room where he has created a “hand-drawn look” to decorate the walls that acts as a counterpoint to the rugs — “the history books of Central Asia” — hung on walls in the downstairs level.
There are Senneh kelims woven by Kurds settled in urban areas of Iran who use a slit weave with cotton warps and pure wool weft (from $175 to $2700); and richly coloured Taimini pile rugs from weavers in harsh regions of Afghanistan ($400 to $7500).
Also in the mix are flat-weave kelims with a soft and shaggy pile, which are made by Turkic nomads ($350 to $1600; including “cool 70s browns and oranges”).
Kaspia’s Caravan, the Yellow House, 57 Macleay Street, Potts Point, Sydney. Daily, 10am-5pm, until February 1. kaspia.com.au