Exploring colonial history and material culture with Marta Velasco Velasco

The Royal College of Art graduate presented a concise history lesson on the spice trade and textile industry of the colonial world.

Part of the Project

From the Series

Marta Velasco Velasco took to the antenna stage to share her Pulau Banda research project. Starting with the interesting intersection between colonial fashion in the arid environment of Namibia, Velasco created a visual journal of information based on her travels there. With a view to get people interested in the history of this southern African country, Velasco traced the Dutch and Indonesian influences that formed a huge part of the region’s culture.

The Royal College of Art graduate investigated the role that nutmeg played during this time, an invaluable spice for seafarers to preserve meat and a clear sign of luxury. Velasco found that nutmeg was produced on a small collection of islands between Australia and Papua New Guinea named the Banda Islands. It was here that Velasco discovered an important textile tradition in which families who live on these islands could be distinguished by the patterns of their clothing. Textile design forms an inexorable part of culture there, as it is at once a functional shield against the sun and also a mechanism of visual communication.