"We touch the textile as little as possible "
"We always wash our hands first "

"This foot is completely degraded 
We never make something anew 
We conserve what is there 
To make things anew is historical forgery"

"Always has to be reversible , in twenty years, when new techniques have developed, people should be able to make changes "

"Completely weathered 
The fiber is gone "

"Every time I turn it around or touch it, material comes off 
Every material, that old, keeps losing fibers. "

"I copied all the pattern 
And remade it 
For the other one I need to make it again, because they are never identical "

"This piece is in this boot in one piece, and the other boot in 3 pieces "

"By working with it you really get to know the object "

"It has not been washed 
We hardly ever wash 
Because every treatment needs to be reversible 
Washing is impossible to reverse "

"There can be traces that are archeologically interesting, or that can be genetically interesting 
If you wash, that will be all gone "

"Sometimes it is necessary, when your textile is so dirty that it can cause damage to your object 
That can be for example when there is sand inside, which is sharp, that can harm your textile "

"The history of your piece is very important for the scientific knowledge of your piece 
They are techniques that we cannot do anymore 
The finest linens from our collection, today we are not able to make those anymore 
Either because we lost the technique or because there were maybe genetically different kinds of flax "

"For that reason we try to intervene the least as possible 
And keep the history as much as possible "

"They were not interested in textile 
That’s why there are hardly any scientific studies around the topic 
The grave of Tutankhamun , the textile has only been looked at in 1992 
Let alone the analyses…  "

"That is something like 1000 after Christ 
Samite weaving 
At least two weft systems and two warp systems 
They call that complex bindings 
Manually woven "
"I’m laying them flat now, the pleads
With small weights 
To be able to do anything about it, I need to lay it flat 
I will not iron it "

"Look , these are all falsifications 
This is a false loop fabric 
That is just sewn on top 
You can see it on the background 
They try to make a loop pile "

"Here you also see it, they just worked on top
That is a nice patchwork of everything together 
That head, or what has to look like a head, is just placed there after
All those lines, just fake 
Also here, completely remade 
Probably 19th century, for commerce "

"To preserve the materials we need a constant humidity 
From 48degrees and a temperature of 18 degrees 
Here it is 20 degrees, but that its constant is the most important 
That is centrally arranged 
We have a central for all the rooms , 
There are alarms attached to that 
So if humidity or temperature changes the technician will be warned on his phone 
So he can come and adjust it 
It’s supposed to be like that 
It’s very important "

"Pure stylistically it is always risky to date objects"

"if there is a variation in climatological circumstances 
textile can have only little fluctuation"

"It has been for a few thousands of years in the ground 
It’s not supposed to be consumed by us 
I hope we can enjoy it for some more thousand years 
Otherwise you can’t afford to exhibit them " 
"So it is a combination between showing something and conserving it 
You need to keep that in consideration "
"Every plead is supported 
A vertical setup is not that good for conservation 
Every plead is a weak point which can cause a rupture in time "

"A difference in experience 
This is a tunica but it became more like a painting 
This will last the longest, but I don’t see a human in this "

"These are the body fluids which you see there 
By the way they were wrapped inside 
A head and the start of the shoulders "
"That’s a big the danger of stitching everything on a backing 
You make the textile into a kind of painting "

"That is completely supported 
Just to support the weaving 
Not only the holes"
"In Egypt everything was s spun 
Imported wool from Persia was z spun 
So by looking at the spin direction you can trace where it’s from 
Now and then you find z spun material in an Egyptian grave 
But that could have been imported of course "

Translation and transcription of excerpts of a conversation with restorer Kristin van Passel at the Phoebus Foundation Antwerp by Evi Olde Rikkert 

Image Phoebus Foundation©

The head office of Katoen Natie appears not to be a normal office building. Hidden treasures are kept in the inner core of the building. Enter the dark room. Who / what do you see here? There is a special carpet on the wall, displayed behind glass. It appears to be depicting a map or landscape, but only fragments are still visible. Evi Olde Rikkert interviews the restorer of the carpet: “This textile has been underground for several thousand years, in Egypt or somewhere along the silk route. Due to the constant climate in the desert and the dry soil it is well preserved. Textiles can normally only withstand a little variation in temperature.” Evi conducts research into what the rest of this landscape would have looked like. A guided tour to explain these findings will take place at the Katoen Natie headquarters the 28th of June, also a 3D model will be on view on a touchscreen to further explore the knotted landscape. 

(collaboration with curator of the textile collection Danaƫ Vermeulen, Katoen Natie and the Phoebus Foundation, picture of ancient carpet by the Phoebus foundation, other two images are the script/flyer of the guided tour by Evi Olde Rikkert)